Tag Archives: career advice

Career Advice To A Procurement Newbie….

Did it feel like you were thrown in at the deep end upon entering the procurement world? Some of Procurious’ resident experts offer some career advice to anyone starting out on their journey….

Starting out in a new career is never easy; there’s so much to learn, good impressions to be made and new people to meet. But all that’s made easier with a little help from your global community of procurement friends!

The discussion board on Procurious never disappoints as a hotbed for rich debate and discussion.  So, of course, we weren’t surprised  by the wealth of responses when a procurement pro in need reached out for some advice as a newbie to the profession.

To give you a helping hand we’ve compiled some of the best responses from our members….

Get qualified!

The procurement debate rages on regarding professional qualifications. Are they beneficial, are they important? Do you really need them in the age of the internet.

The general consensus amongst Procurious members is: Yes!

Anthea Simon said ” I would say a top tip would be get your CIPS qualifications, this is the advice I was given by my mentor who is a CPO for a leading manufacturing company. If you have ambitions to excel within your procurement career I would say try and get yourself a mentor.”

Steven Onyango agreed saying “have the CIPS qualification, you will really enjoy as it’s detailed and you will love and relate well with some of the units.”

Whilst Chris Cliffe conceded that the CIPS qualification will be “very valuable and worthwhile” he advises aspiring professionals not to rush “make sure it’s the profession for you first, and then commit to the training.”

Open a book

Sometimes funding and timing restraints don’t allow for official certifications and training. In these instances it’s your responsibility to take control of your career and your learning.

Anthea Simon says “read… read… read….read around procurement. There is so much information out there on procurement, supply chain management; anything and everything you want to know about this’ wonderful world of procurement’…

“I spend a good portion of my day reading procurement material whether on the internet, books, audios. Also ask questions. I work closely with the Head of Procurement for my organisation, and I’m always asking him questions if I don’t understand anything or I just want to learn more about something.

Sheri Daneliak agrees advising professionals to “read everything you can get your hands on concerning Procurement and Supply Chain until you can get your certification. This site is a great place for help…”

Build relationships

To succeed in procurement, building relationships is of the utmost importance; with suppliers, clients and stakeholders.

Mike Lewis suggests that procurement pros ” View [their]  critical suppliers as partners and develop relationships based on positive mutual benefit.”

Chuck Intrieri agreed statingThe key to procurement is collaboration. Adversarial relationships do not work. It has to be a “win-win” for both parties.”

“Bringing value to your end users and customers (suppliers and co-workers).” is Tahj Bomar’s top advice. “People, process, and technology. The process and technology, figure what works in the company culture/environment. But, getting people on board and understanding I find is the key! Create  “win-win” situations”

Understand your company

“Understanding in your company, area, category or commodity exactly what you are spending on what products with whom and why.” is Jim Reed’s advice. “I have been asked to save money several times in an area where the spend was low, optimised and attacking it would have been a waste of time, whilst big ticket opportunities would have been ignored. Being able to articulate the spend context has always enabled me to turn that round.”

Marcin Witkowski supports this and instructs professionals to “get as much information as you can about what you are supposed to buy.”

“Listening is the key” says Terry Gittins “find out what you customer wants and work with them to achieve it. Keep it simple and you will bring them with you.”

Click here to view the full discussion and all responses. 

Could You Do A TED Talk On Your Category?

Great category management is like a killer TED Talk – it’s strategic, it’s well researched and it’s delivered with true passion.  Have you got what it takes?

Our webinar, Breaking the Groundhog Day Mentality: Enabling A True Category Management Mindset takes, takes place at 1pm GMT on 29th November 2017. Register your attendance for FREE here.   

There are over 2,500  TED talks available online, each dubbed with the organisation’s tagline “ideas worth spreading” or “talks to stir your curiosity”.

But, what makes these bitesize videos so universally appealing? What common traits do the talks share that piques the curiosity of the general public and guarantees thousands upon thousands of views?

We’ve delved in to the intricacies of a winning TED talk and, it turns out, some of the key qualities of a killer TED talk can also be applied to category management.

Christopher Eyerman, Senior Director, Denali – A WNS Company explains, “Category management is not just a process, it’s not just a set of tools. It takes on-going focus and the development of key skill-sets, just like any function or discipline within an organisation, in order to be the best that you can be.”

So, what are the things category managers need to do well as per the TED talk rulebook?

Keep It Snappy And Strategic

TED talks never, ever exceed 18 minutes of content, no matter what the subject matter, level of complexity, importance or fame of the person delivering the talk. By insisting speakers cut content from a talk they might normally deliver, TED guarantees audiences a level of discipline, focus and a clear thought process behind the key point delivered. The process encourages presenters to take a strategic approach.

Christophe Ysebaert, Partner, Transitive Management, explains, “Procurement organisations need to switch from being 20 per cent strategic to 80 per cent strategic. A key skill set for your team of category managers is to have a strategic mindset.”

Much like producing a TED talk on a complex subject, “To build strategy, you have to work from a huge amount of data,” Christophe continues. “You’re going to gather data from the market, your internal stakeholders, spend data etc. At some point, you need to analyse that data and come up with something that makes sense in terms of strategy.”

Tell Your Story

It goes without saying that communication and story-telling are key elements of any TED talk. Presenting key messages, an argument or a lecture in an accessible and insightful way to a diverse audience widens the appeal of topics that might have previously been alienating.

Christophe explains,  “When you do category management, you talk to internal customers, business people etc. and you have to be able to sell your case and your strategy.

“At my company, we’ve put together a package of information about how to tell a good story because that’s something you need to do all the time in this profession. ”

Category managers must be able to present their case to a wide range of stakeholders.

Find Your Passion

It’s rare to watch a TED talk and not get a sense of the speaker’s passion for their subject. They are the experts in their chosen topic, its greatest advocates and their extensive knowledge on the subject reflects this.

Chris explains why passion and curiosity are at the heart of category management, “Getting very deep with your category, getting deep with the data, deeply understanding the external market place, and having that sense of true curiosity [is important]. The best category managers never seem satisfied, they never think they know everything they need to know, they’re always pushing and trying to find additional information and additional ways to better understand their categories.”

Ask yourself, Chris says,  “Could you as a category manager give the TED talk on your category?”

Know Your Audience

When dealing with internal or external stakeholders in category management, you need to know what makes them tick or how to engage them, what you want to achieve from talking to them and what are you selling them!

“This doesn’t mean – ‘I know Joe we play basketball together!’ ” says Chris. “It’s about really understanding them. From their business, their needs, co-aligning with them in terms of their objectives and yours, developing a strategy, and sharing your vision with them.”

Just like in a TED talk, category managers need to leverage their sales skills.

Chris concludes “Selling your vision, building a strong business case and being able to influence stakeholders and align stakeholders to a strategy” are crucial to make it as a great category manager.

Want to hear more on this topic from Christopher Eyerman and Christophe Ysebaert? Tune in to today’s webinar, Breaking the Groundhog Day Mentality: Enabling A True Category Management Mindset at 1pm GMT. Register your attendance for FREE here. 

Why Don’t You Trust Your Procurement Boss?

Ever feel like you’re being stabbed in the back by your procurement boss? You’re definitely not alone and we have the stats to prove it!

When Procurious put out a call for procurement survey participants, we were delighted when 500+ professionals across more than 50 countries shared their insights and wisdom.

Amongst our most startling discoveries was that over half of those surveyed don’t trust their boss to be proactive about their career progression. This result indicates that professionals need to seize control of their own career advancement, while managers need to be incentivised to support and progress their direct reports.

The Results Explained By Global CPOs

At The Big Ideas Summits in Chicago and Melbourne earlier this year we revealed the results of the survey to our CPO delegates.

We were particularly interested in their thoughts on what procurement managers should be doing in order to regain the trust of their team members. The video below shows a compilation of their responses:

What’s the root cause of these  trust issues?

Why is trust so terribly lacking between procurement professionals and their leaders?  A number of  key factors arose from our research:

Rate of Change – David Henchliffe, Group Manager Procurement OZ Minerals attributes the lack of trust to the astounding rate of change in today’s organisations, “What people seen as firm and certain today, is gone tomorrow. That constant change erodes trust. And it erodes peoples’ view of your genuine-ness.”

My boss doesn’t want me to leave – Many of us can relate to the experience of having an overly protective boss, a boss who is keener to hold on to their talent at all costs rather than priortise career development. Alan Paul, CEO Sourceit, takes his responsibility in this area very seriously, “As a manager I need to demonstrate to my staff that I’m not afraid of them leaving the organisation. I want to develop them I want them to improve themselves.” If employees feel like they are missing out on opportunities because of an unsupportive boss, it’s likely they’ll leave anyway!

My boss doesn’t engage or communicate with me – The value in talking and listening can never be underestimated.  Imelda Walsh, Recruitment Consultant, The Source believes that “fantastic leaders encourage honest and open conversation. If procurement managers can take that step, you’ll naturally build trust”

My boss isn’t helping my career development – If it appears that your boss doesn’t care about helping you to advance your career, of course you’re not going to trust them! Michelle Varble, Procurement Director, United Airlines, asserts that  “we need to take a geuine interest in [our employees] success- we need to take on the roll of mentor even if we havent recieved a specific invitation to be a mentor.”

My boss isn’t ethical – Employees will hold a leader in high regard who both demonstrates good ethics  and demonstrates that they genuinely care about good ethics. People want to work for companies that are not soley motivated by savings and profit, that aren’t covering up immoral behaviour and where they aren’t suspicious of the goings on at the top of the company.

A lack of ethical behaviour at the top sets a terrible example to the rest of the organisation and destroys trust.

What can procurement leaders do to regain trust?

Encourage development – Anna O’Dea, Director and Founder of Agency Iceberg, believes that “a  good employer should encourage the development of their employees. If your employer isn’t investing in your training or opportunities, you could be in a one-way relationship.”

Spend time with your talent – David Henchliffe advises leaders to regain trust by devoting more quality time with employees, “spend time with them, get to know them, admit your mistakes and praise them when they do well.”

Put clear career progression procedures in place – Implementing clear structures within an organisation reassures employees that their progress is being monitored and the value they contribute is recognised.  John Foody General Manager Procurement, U.S Steel explain how his organisation “We’ve put in place some tools that we call Career Ladders, that evaluates and gives feedback to our people. It provides them with feedback on their skills, their capabilities, areas to continue to work on. It gives them a sense of progress as they continue to move through our organisation.”

Take the fear away – Don’t let your employees worry about your lack of commitment to them. Reassure them that you  have their best interests at heart, and not your own!  Alan Paul asserts that “for a manager, a true leader, it’s about taking away the fear that your people are going to leave and trust that they’re going to stay. But also accept the fact that eventually they are going to move on.

How can you advance your career without the help of your untrustworthy boss?

As Procurious founder Tania Seary asserts, “It’s all too easy to find excuses for why your career is not panning out the way you intended. Soft targets for blame include your employer, your peers, your organisation or even your own personal life- challenges for blocking your charge to the top.

“We know there are some significant problems with procurement bosses around the world but…as I have always said, and will continue to say, the only common denominator in your career is YOU.”

So join that professional network, start updating your online CV, enroll on an eLearning course, listen to that podcast series you keep forgetting about  and start connecting with influential peers and thought leaders! The procurement world is your oyster…

Request your copy of the Gen NEXT Report

The Gen NEXT report, exclusively available to Procurious members, is packed with data, insights, recommendations, and links to over 20+ Procurious articles that further explore many of the findings that are raised in the report. Email us to request your copy. 

Three Imperatives Of Every Successful Category Manager

Every leadership role in every business comes with its own set of imperatives, a set of tasks that must be focussed on to guarantee success. But what imperative should a great category manager follow?This article was written by  Lynn Rideout – Director Procurement Services, Denali – A WNS Company.

Entrepreneur and venture capitalist Fred Wilson once described the three tasks that every CEO should focus on, whilst all other tasks should be delegated to their team.

These three things, the CEO imperatives, must include:

  • Setting the overall vision and strategy of the company and communicating it to all stakeholders
  • Recruiting, hiring and retaining the very best talent for the company
  • Ensuring there is always enough cash in the bank

If your CEO can’t excel at all three, the chances are you’ve got some fairly big problems within your organisation.

What if we were to take the concept of the three imperatives, and apply it to category management?

What should you do well to be successful?

What are your imperatives?

And, furthermore, how do you take the basic understanding of category management and enable it across your organisation?

At Denali, we believe the greatest category managers follow these three imperatives.

1. Know Your Stakeholders

First and foremost, successful category managers understand the importance of stakeholder alignment and building positive relationships. Follow these tips to enhance your stakeholder relationships through your category plan:

  • Be with your stakeholders – Spend time (both real and mental) with them every day
  • Intimately know their business objectives – use a consistent framework to correctly identify true requirements, the key enablers, and barriers to those objectives; where value is created?
  • Establish true alignment – establish shared goals and earn trusted advisor relationship
  • Sell YOUR vision – “if not now, then when?”, be aligned and integrated with stakeholders
  • Bring new opportunities to the table vs. react to requests or issues
  • Plant seeds with stakeholders – start one project at a time; build reputation and trust

Remember, to effectively persuade and engage your stakeholders, you must tailor the content for each discussion. Tell your story and help build the business case. Building successful relationships is an evolution. Your stakeholder relationships will grow with time – and so will your credibility with stakeholders!

2. Understand Your Categories

Understanding the internal and external dynamics of your categories drives idea generation and stakeholder engagement. Follow these tips to better understand your categories:

  • Get dirty with the data – become intimate with your category details, but get to true insights – the “so what’s”
  • Be curious – ask why, seek innovation, and develop new strategies
  • Be intentional regardless of the depth and category maturity
  • Be “in the market” – study market drivers/trends, talk to suppliers, participate in market events, read broadly
  • Network with category peers in other industries/organisations
  • Understand your suppliers – capabilities, performance, why you use them, and leverage them

Establish a plan to refresh and maintain category knowledge as part of building your story. Knowledge will grow with time, but it should not delay execution.

3. Deliver Results

Now that you know your stakeholders and understand your categories – it’s time to execute. Use this newfound alignment and knowledge to drive deliberate consideration of a prioritised portfolio rather than executing on strategic sourcing project at a time. After all, category management is MUCH more than simply executing sourcing projects.

  • Take a portfolio approach – Know your targets and have a plan to get there, get many projects teed up, and leverage available resources
  • Eliminate extraneous work – Get comfortable with not doing it all
  •  Press sourcing strategies for greater value (go to auction, demand management, standardisation, supplier innovation, etc.)
  • But don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good – you must start somewhere
  • Leverage all available resources to reach your objectives
  • Sustain the value by managing supplier relationships and performance

The best way to deliver results is to have a sense of urgency with a bias toward execution.

To learn more about how to a successful category manager and enable a true category management plan, register for our upcoming webinar.

Our webinar, Breaking the Groundhog Day Mentality: Enabling a TRUE Category Management Mind, takes place at 1pm GMT / 8 am EST on 29th November 2017. Register your attendance for FREE here.

Breaking the Groundhog Day Mentality: Enabling A True Category Management Mindset

Does your category management journey ever remind you of the movie Groundhog Day?  Our latest webinar will advise you on how to break that repetitive cycle!Our webinar, Breaking the Groundhog Day Mentality: Enabling A True Category Management Mindset takes, takes place at 1pm GMT on 29th November 2017. Register your attendence for FREE here. 

The life of a procurement professional can easily descend into a vicious cycle. You’re asked to do more and more, in order to drive bottom line results for the business, but you’re without the time to approach these challenges innovatively.

It’s often something straight out of the movie “Groundhog Day,” where procurement is given bigger and bigger targets, and has to scramble to execute on more projects, touch more spend, react to more stakeholders and more issues, and then simply do it all over again….and again!

The problem is, if our category managers can’t find a way to break the reactive cycle and start taking different approaches, they can’t add value and deliver the best results.

Successful organisations have embraced the request to do more, and have turned it into an opportunity for the function; to increase the strategic role of procurement and make it a destination role within the business.

How do successful organisations navigate this journey? What are the keys to success? And what is imperative for individuals and organisations to do when on this journey to ensure they become closer than ever before to the business?

What content can I expect from the webinar?

We’ll be discussing:

  • What does it mean to have a category management mindset?
  • What key competencies or skills should category managers be developing?
  • How will category management needs continue to evolve over time?
  • How can procurement leaders change the game for category management?
  • What mistakes are category managers repeatedly making?

Who are the guest speakers?

Tania Seary – Founder, Procurious

A true procurement entrepreneur, Tania is the Founding Chairman of Procurious, The Faculty and The Source. Throughout her career, Tania has been wholly committed to raising the profile of the procurement profession and connecting its leaders.

After finishing her MBA at Pennsylvania State University, Tania became one of Alcoa’s first global commodity managers.

In 2016, Tania was recognised by IBM as a #NewWaytoEngage Futurist and named “Influencer of the Year” by Supply Chain Dive. She hosts regular procurement webinars, and presents at high-profile events around the world.

Christophe Ysebaert – Partner, Transitive Management

Christophe Ysebaert is a Partner with Transitive Management with expertise in purchasing strategies, strategic sourcing and project management. He is also a Part Time Teacher at Skema Business School in Lille (France) teaching category management and strategic sourcing.

Prior to joining Transitive Management, Christophe worked during close to 30 years for Dow Corning as a global manager in Supply Chain and Purchasing jobs. He served roles in Global Planning and more recently in Purchasing as part of the Procurement Leadership Team responsible for strategic sourcing and for a global augmentation program with a third party provider. He has also managed a global portfolio of commodities as well as led the European Direct Procurement Group.

Christophe holds a Master of Science in Business Engineering from Mons University and a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Logistics and Supply Chain Management from Penn State University.

Alpar Kamber,  Executive Vice President, Denali – A WNS Company 

Alpar Kamber is Executive Vice President at WNS and the BU Leader for Procurement Services. He was the Founder and CEO of Denali Sourcing Services, a next-generation procurement services provider that enables procurement organizations to influence more spend and execute more effectively and efficiently.

In January 2017, WNS, a global business process management leader, acquired Denali Sourcing Services. Prior to joining Denali, Alpar held management positions at Ariba, FreeMarkets, Diamond Technology Partners and E&Y. Alpar leads WNS clients in building scalable sourcing programs and operationalizing their procurement function that drive consistency, repeatable outcomes, and bottom-line value across the organization.

Alpar’s expertise is in procurement value chain, organizational design, change management and global program execution. Alpar holds an MBA degree from Tepper Business School of Carnegie Mellon University. Alpar Kamber was named a 2011 Pros to Know by Supply & Demand Chain Executive. Read more about Alpar Kamber in the HfS Research interview, Meet the sultan of strategic sourcing.

Christopher Eyerman, Senior Director,  Denali – A WNS Company 

Chris Eyerman is the Senior Director for WNS-Denali. Chris leads WNS-Denali’s Solutions and Capabilities group to design, deliver and continuously improve procurement programs that provide real, lasting value and creates permanent change in how our customers conduct procurement business.

He is a senior supply chain and program management executive with more than 30 years of technical and business experience, including 18 years of leading category management, source-to-contract, procure-to-pay and supply chain transformation programs. Prior to joining WNS-Denali, he served roles in program management, business development, product management and operations at FreeMarkets, Ariba and Exostar.

Chris holds a BS degree in Mechanical Engineering from Penn State, an MS degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from MIT, and an MBA degree from Carnegie Mellon University.

How do I register for the webinar?

Registering for our webinar couldn’t be easier (and, of course, it’s FREE!)

Click here to enter your details and confirm your attendance. We’ll send you a confirmation email with a link to the webinar platform and a handy reminder one hour before we go live!

I’m already a member of Procurious, do I still need to register?

Yes! If you are already a member of Procurious you must still register to access the webinar via this platform. We’ll send you a confirmation email with a link to the webinar platform and a handy reminder one hour before we go live!

When is it taking place?

The webinar will take place at 1pm GMT on 29th November 2017.

Help! I can’t make it to the live-stream

No problem! If you can’t make the live-stream you can catch up whenever it suits you. We’ll be making it available on Procurious soon after the event (and will be sure to send you a link) so you can listen at your leisure!

Can I ask a question?

If you’re listening live, our speakers would love to hear your questions and we’d love for you to pick their brains . Questions can be submitted throughout the live stream via the webinar platform, or via @Procurious_ on Twitter.

If you think of a brilliant question after the event, feel free to submit your question via the Discussion Board on Procurious and we’ll do our very best to ensure it gets answered for you.

Our webinar, Breaking the Groundhog Day Mentality: Enabling A True Category Management Mindset, takes place at 1pm GMT on 29th November 2017. Register your attendence for FREE here. 

Take Some Advice From Procurement’s Top Influencers

Don’t cry because it’s over…. Smile because you can re-live all of the action from The Big Ideas Summit Chicago on Procurious! The event might be over, but you can still  register for The Big Ideas Summit Chicago to access footage  from the event. 

Last week, Procurious gathered 50 of the U.S.’s top procurement and supply chain influencers in Chicago for the Big Ideas Summit for a day of rich discussion on the trends impacting our industry.

We debated whether entrepreneurial skills are something we’re born with or something we can teach…

We learnt why procurement pros must become better intelligence gatherers in preparation for the disruptive forces coming our way in 2018…

And we discovered that it’s possible to engineer moments of serendpity to ensure we meet the right people at the right time!

Couldn’t join us on the day?

Did we slip your mind? No problem! The Big Ideas Summit itself might be over but the global brainstorm continues on Procurious. There’s heaps more content to get your teeth stuck into via the learning area and in our Big Ideas Summit Chicago Digital Delgate Group.

Here’s a taster of some the content you can expect…

Everyone’s A Little Bit Entrepreneurial

Nina Vaca, The Chairman and CEO of Pinnacle Group has experienced a roller-coaster of ups and downs in her 20-year journey from a niche IT business, that was started on her living room floor, to the workforce solutions powerhouse it is today.

She offered some fascinating insights in to her life as a successful entrepreneur and asked us to think of entrpreneurship as a continuum, and not as a noun.

Everyone, Nina believes, has a little bit of entrepreneurial skill. Whilst your position on the entrepreneurial scale whether it be 5, 50 or 100 determines your overall potential, we can all move forward in our abilities to some extent!

Nina also provided some advice on how to spot entrepreneurial qualities during an interview process. How do you identify the visionaries, the ones with fire in their belly who will galvanise the people around them. Find out more below:

Can We Speed Up Real Life?

Greg Lindsay, Futurist, Urbanist, Journalist and Author, is a firm believer in the fact that innovation is fundamentally social. Indeed, case study after case study has demonstrated that the best ideas are more likely to arise from a casual chat around the water fountain than in any scheduled meeting.

So how do we engineer serendipidous moments. Of course, as Greg acknowledged at last week’s event, this is an oxymoron. But it is possible to create the conditions for unplanned encounters with people where ideas can happen. How do you meet the person in the office you should be working with, how do you meet people in the same social speheres you are yet to encounter?

Greg’s presentation was all about accelerating the experience of life, which is all about unplanned encounters. They happen all the time anyway, so the trick is to figure out how we can bend them to our will? Learn more in Greg’s video interview:

You Have All The Info You Need. Now, What To Do With It All…?

Justin Crump, CEO at Sibylline thinks that every procurement leader needs to become a better intelligence gatherer.  Given the rate at which technology is evolving and how global events are impacting the world, it is increasingly difficult for companies to keep-up without considering risk in real-time. Intelligence about the world we live in drives business operations and the better informed we are the easier it is to drive progress.

Justin explained that procurement teams need an effective process to managing the information they have and turning it into something they can use, what he terms an “actionable insight”.

In the past it was hard to get hold of information and now we’re swamped with it with the advent of social media – the challenge is pulling it al together.  In his video, Justin offers some advice on how to do this and outlines the disruptive forces are heading our way in 2018?

Want to see more from The Big Ideas Summit Chicago.  Register now  (It’s FREE!) as a digital delegate to gain access to all of the day’s action including video interviews with our speakers and attendees. 

Don’t let your career break become a career breakdown

We know the story; a promising career comes screeching to a halt! But how do you ensure your career break is the start of something brilliant and not the car-crash it, at first, appears to be!

The first part of my professional story sounds exactly like scores of other professional women’s: college, work, apartment, graduate school (nights), wedding, better job, travel, better job, and… family!

Suddenly, the career I had been working so hard to build came to a screeching halt. I went from being the Associate Director of Consulting at Emptoris to… well I didn’t know what. My newborn daughter was completely unimpressed with my title, my two graduate degrees, or my extensive knowledge of spend management principles. I honestly didn’t know if and when I would return to the workplace, in procurement or otherwise.

Then I received a completely unexpected, unsolicited invitation to join Buyers Meeting Point. Anna was 18 months old and her little brother Timmy was expected in a few months’ time. Could I juggle two small children and a fledgling business? I labored over the decision, but ultimately came to the realisation that I might never get such as opportunity again.

I am not a natural entrepreneur!

Here’s the funny thing about that: I am not a natural entrepreneur. I know a lot of entrepreneurs. They are a very unique and amazing group of people. They have vision. They have passion. They act with confidence even when they don’t particularly feel it. They have a tolerance for risk that I can hardly comprehend. In fact, I’m such a NON-trepreneur that when I was getting my MBA at Babson College (home of U.S. News and World Report’s #1 graduate program for entrepreneurship in the nation for over 2 decades) I did not take one class in entrepreneurship. Why? I was never going to own a business… doh!

I found myself at home with 2 children under the age of 2 and no schooling in entrepreneurship building a business. As I look back 8 years later, part of me is still shocked that I made it work. I think the key was my goal: to never, ever, ever, (ever!) return to a cube again.

My kids are now 9 (Anna), 7 (Timmy), and 4 (Joseph). They are healthy, active children, and since the kitchen table is also my executive conference room, my business life and personal life often collide. If your career break becomes a brand new beginning, here is my advice for balancing family and work from the joyful chaos of a home office.

Partner with your calendar and task list

When you have a lot of disconnected moving pieces in your head, your best bet is to communicate with yourself in writing. I am disciplined about keeping my calendar(s) up to date so that podcast interviews and new prospect calls do not collide with horseback riding lessons or meeting the school bus.

The same goes for managing tasks. I am not kidding about this piece of advice: if you do not write it down, it will not happen. Period. There are daily tasks, weekly and monthly recurring writing schedules, and one-off writing contracts. They all have to be kept in priority order so that deadlines are not missed. I find it helpful to work with a hard copy to do list each day, putting work tasks alongside family ones. That way, if the vet calls while I am finishing an article, or I see a request come in from a colleague to share something on social media while I am making lunches for the next day, I can jot it down without breaking off to find my phone.

Build a network

Something I know I share with procurement colleagues working in traditional positions is that feeling of dread that arises when someone at a party asks what I do for a living. “Procurement? What on earth is that?” Sigh.

It is even more important that non-traditional professionals have a strong network of peers to lean on. The major downside of working from home is that you can feel isolated without ever being alone (not even for a second). Using Skype and social media sites to build connections and invest in peer relationships is a must. Figure out who is really a ‘friend’ and who just wants another number in their connection statistics. Make sure you reach out to people and engage with their topics on a regular basis – not just when you need something.

And… most importantly, laugh!

For years, I have scheduled calls around nap schedules, archery lessons, half day preschool, and parent teacher conferences. In the summer (when book manuscripts are inevitably due for some reason…) I keep Italian ice in the freezer because it takes my kids so long to eat it. One of my final book manuscripts received a little additional editing from Anna – she drew a shark on page 137. I have presented webinars with Joseph driving Matchbox cars at my feet and once I tripped over a Minion toy during a podcast interview. Luckily, the sound was not picked up on my microphone!

When work and home life share the same headquarters, your best case scenario is two-way immersion. I like to think that I show my children that the only thing that can hold you back in life is the limitation of your own imagination. They have been at my side (cheering!) as I brought each of my final book manuscripts to FedEx to overnight to the publisher. My husband (a hardware engineer) has been called upon more than once to work ‘IT magic’ for some accessibility or conversion effort. I get to continue working in an industry I love without being tied to a desk.

With today’s connectivity and open-mindedness about contract labor, there are very few things that you can’t turn into a career from home. If you have the determination and discipline, there is no reason that you, too, can’t say good-bye to a ‘cube dwelling’ life forever.

Hope Is Not A Strategy

As Procurious assembles 50 of the U.S.’s most influential procurement & supply chain leaders in Chicago; you’re invited to take control of your career and join us for FREE as a Digital Delegate!

We’re live from the Big Ideas Summit Chicago! Register now as a digital delegate to follow all of the day’s action!

It’s all too easy to find excuses for why your career is not panning out the way you intended. Soft targets for blame include your employer, your peers, your organisation or even your own personal life- challenges for blocking your charge to the top.

You might be a rock star employee who delivered on all your KPIs, participated in “extra curricular” activities, and can boast a strong and supportive network (you even know the CEO!) but it doesn’t mean you’ll be offered your dream role when you think you deserve it!

The Common Denominator To ALL Your Career Problems

When career breaks don’t fall in your favour, you need something (or, even better, someone!) to lash out at. Bosses are always a great starting point, right?

“My boss is useless… emotionally inept…a control freak…”

The list goes on, and on! In fact, our Procurious community tells us there are some significant problems with procurement bosses around the world (we’ll be releasing those survey results in a couple of weeks).

Bosses aside, there are some real structural issues that are impeding procurement pros’ progress. These include super flat organisational structures that don’t allow for upward career progression and serious financial constraints that restrict team sizes and budget for training. These factors have many implications, one of which is that you can’t get away from the office to learn.

But…as I have always said, and will continue to say, the only common denominator in your career is YOU.

If you’re going to get anywhere with your career – you have to take control.

It’s Time To Take Your Career To The Digital Side

In today’s digital world, there is absolutely no excuse for you to not be advancing your career. And it’s no use turning a blind eye to all of the rapidly advancing tehnology developments, in the hope that it won’t impact you. It’ your responsibility to get on top of it!

If your boss’ attitude and organisational structure are thwarting your efforts, don’t keep knocking your head against a brick wall; walk along it, through the side door and into the ether!

Need to learn something? Take an online course. Have a question? Ask your global network of peers in an online discussion group. Need to improve your profile to get that next job? Post your achievements in a strategic way through social media, update your online CV, and connect with influential peers and thought leaders. This is easy…and can all be done from the comfort of your own desk.

It may not be as effective or as stimulating as attending live training or networking events, but when live attendance isn’t possible, eLearning is a viable alternative. In fact, in our recent Procurious survey, 61 per cent procurement pros said a combination of both online and offline was the ideal mix for propelling their career prospects.

The good news is that there is a lot of useful online content and it is only going to get better! Top training providers in the profession are responding to the market by shifting their entire courses into bite- sized units online. And your peers are voting with their feet (or their clicks!)

Procurious has seen interest in online learning grow steadily. There have been 65,000 downloads of the Introduction to Procurement eLearning module and, just this month, more 6,000 procurement pros took part in our online Career Boot Camp. These figures demonstrate the value procurement professionals see in bite-size online learning.

Over five thousand Procurious members visit our discussion board every month to share ideas and offer advice to their peers. And our blogs spark debate, with members feeding their own commentary and ideas into the global community.

This group of Procurement’s Generation Next, are leveraging these online learning opportunities and connecting with thousands of peers around the world, as well as senior executives, thought leaders and CPOs.

Don’t Delay, Start Today!

Our digital Big Ideas Summits, along with all the other networking, discussion and eLearning we have on Procurious, will empower ambitious individuals, from wherever they are in the world, to stay ahead of the curve.

Together we aim to inspire a global generation of procurement leaders, business intrapreneurs, ‘people who can think outside the box’, and challenge them to take a more innovative professional outlook.

By registering as Digital Delegates today, procurement’s rising stars will be able to connect directly with other attendees, access video interviews from our speakers and other educational content– and even receive a digital goodie bag.

Live From Big Ideas Chicago

To register to attend for FREE as a Digital Delegate sign up here. 

Your Procurement Career Upgrade: Download Complete!

Career Boot Camp 2017: That’s a wrap! 5 global CPOs, 5 FREE procurement podcasts – available NOW! 

Career Boot Camp 2017 is done and dusted!  Sign up here (It’s FREE!) to access all five podcasts. 

Procurious promised we would upgrade your career.

We pledged that we would transform your procurement future.

We swore our five, global CPOs would prepare you for workplace 4.0.

But we never said it would be easy!

Last week, Procurious and Michael Page Procurement and Supply Chain presented Career Boot Camp 2017.  If you joined us, we hope you’re feeling inspired and motivated to make you procurement dreams come true! Now’s the time to take you career to hand; using the tips, guidance and insights provided by our podcast speakers, you’re equipped to take the procurement world by storm. It’s going to be a long journey but we’re right here with you, every step of the way!

Want to catch up on any missed episodes, recap on your favourites or get stuck in to heaps of related content? Look no further.

Over 5000 procurement pros took part in Career Boot Camp.  Were you one of them?

I couldn’t make it, can I still take part?

Want to learn how to “fail forward”, why you should be locking up your data scientists or the reason Co-op’s CPO won’t be showing you her cake recipe?  

Great news! You might be a little late to the party but that means you can access the whole series in one fell swoop. Whether you want to listen on the go, from your sofa or during your lunchbreak, in one day, one week, or one month, Career Boot Camp 2017 is ready and waiting for you to listen at your leisure!

Anyone and everyone is welcome to partake in Career Boot Camp and it’s totally, 100 per cent free.

How do I join?

If you’re already a member of Procurious simply head over to our eLearning area to access the full series of Career Boot Camp 2017.

Not yet a member of Procurious? All you need to do is register here (it’s FREE!) and you’re good to go!

What can I expect?

Career Boot Camp 2017 was designed to help you transform your career and your future if, and only if, you’re ready and willing to upgrade! Our five CPOs provided inside information on what it’s like to work at their organisation, what they’re looking for in new hires and how they see the function progessing in the coming years.

More and more procurement professionals are opting to develop their key skills and gain knowledge through eLearning and other online channels. In a fast-paced, technology driven world, innovation, agility and forward planning are essential if procurement professionals are to succeed and be future leaders.

Need a little more persuasion. Click below to listen exclusively to Day 1 of Career Boot Camp in FULL.

Ramsay Chu, Rio Tinto CPO, How to Fail Forward:

“The best skiers have fallen many times. No one is an Olympic caliber downhill skier from the outset. It’s not a natural or innate talent that anyone’s born with. They get better by learning, pushing themselves to the limits, oftentimes falling, picking themselves up, and moving on.

“I think the fear of failure oftentimes casts a very long shadow, and potentially impairs our ability to really think big.”

Best of the Career Boot Camp Blog

Once you’ve had your fill of our five podcasts you might like to do a little wider reading. There’s heaps of great. related conten in our blog at the moment. Here are some of the highlights.

  • The Biggest Mistake Leaders Make On Their Way To The Top By Tania Seary, Founder Procurious – Procurement leaders, listen up! We hate to break it to you, but life’s not fair. And neither is your procurement career!
  • Personal Development: You Da Brand! By Matthew Friend, Associate Director Michael Page Procurement and Supply Chain – So you’ve decided you need to take your procurement career to hand by proactively managing your personal development? Here’s how to set yourself up for success.
  • 5 Global CPOs Answer Your Top Five Procurement Questions By Procurious HQ – How did the CPOs at Barclays, Vodafone, The Co-operative group, AstraZeneca and Rio Tinto fair when we put them to the test in a round of quick-fire questions?

Gain instant access to the full series of Career Boot Camp 2017 when you sign up to Procurious. 

Already a member of Procurious? You’re automatically enrolled for Career Boot Camp! Click here to listen now!

Barclays CPO: You’re In The Driver’s Seat, So Take The Wheel!

Don’t just come along for the procurement ride! If you want to make it big as a CPO, you’ve got to get in the driver’s seat and take the wheel!

Career Boot Camp 2017 launches on 4th September, featuring podcasts  with 5 global CPOs. Sign up here (It’s FREE!)  

What are today’s CPOs looking out for in the high performing procurement leaders of tomorrow?

Accepting change is good. But it’s even better if you can embrace it and drive it!

Barclays CPO, Al Williams, is certainly looking for more in his hires than a simple willingness to tolerate change. If you’re in the driver’s seat, you’ve got to take the wheel and drive the agenda!

On the fifth and final day of Career Boot Camp, Al discusses how procurement can generate value, how the function should be positioned within an organisation and how he encourages his hires to think about positive change.

And, if you’re in the market for some new shining stars, find out what you can do to make procurement a preferred and enticing destination for the next generation of professionals!

Five days, five CPOs, five fifteen-minute podcasts to help you upgrade your procurement career. 

Featuring tips and guidance from the best in the business, each of our  CPOs will dedicate their week to coaching you on becoming the best procurement leader you can be!

On Day 5 of Career Boot Camp we hear from Managing Director and CPO Barclays Al Williams.

Need a little convinving before you sign up? Check out our teaser trailer below to hear what Al had to say in reponse to our quick-fire questions.

Grabbing The Wheel

What attributes is Al Williams looking for in high performing procurement leaders?

“We’ve been building out a new leadership team in our procurement organization so I’ve had an opportunity to interview and select people, both with internal, internal within the organization and external. And some of the things I’m looking for, in addition to what I just talked about around innovation and problem solving and that kind of thing, is their ability and their willingness to embrace change. Not just manage it and tolerate it but they actually drive it, right?

“I want leaders who are in the driver’s seat, sort of pushing the agenda, and not just along for the ride, and certainly not those that feel like they’re victims and end up kind of victims as a part of a larger process. Deriving, embracing and driving change. I would also say a collaborative approach is very important and it’s collaborative in two dimension from both inside the organisations and outside the organization and in the market.

“It’s very important that we’re not the land of no, especially at a leadership level.  I think people want to be a part of an organisation like that, that’s a problem solving and collaborative team.”

What’s Procurement’s Position?

How should procurement functions position themselves within larger organisations? It’s a question that all senior procurement leaders are asking themselves. For Al, the answer is three-fold.

“One is we need to make sure that we’re positioning procurement as a strategic, value-adding player in the business, and not transactional. If we act transactional, and behave transactional that’s how the business will treat us, and that’s how we’ll be perceived by the business.

“Second is of course making sure that we align to the key business metrics or the key business outcomes that are important to the overall business strategy. And that would include things like financial metrics. That may be, if you’re a public company, [understand] what are the key things that are important to drive profitability and align determined outcomes to those. I would say the same thing from a risk perspective as well, aligning to the organisational risk tolerance, risk temperament and any metrics that are associated with that. So that’s an important positioning.”

And thirdly?

“Procurement used to be consultative, it needs to be in a position of influence, it needs to be helping the business, it needs to be sharing perspective, market knowledge, helping shape strategy, at least from a spin perspective for the business. When I talk about helping the business, a good example is policy compliance. We tend to have to be the communicator of, and sometimes the police of, certain policies in our businesses.

“I think it’s very important that procurement is positioned as ‘Hey, we’re here to help you be compliant to the policies and to help sort of maneuver you through the mirage of steps and checks that need to happen'”.

Listen to Al’s full podcast when you sign up to Procurious. Career Boot Camp 2017 launches on 4th September, featuring podcasts with 5 global CPOs. Sign up here (It’s FREE!) 

Already a member of Procurious? You’re automatically enrolled for Career Boot Camp! Click here to listen to Al’s podcast in full.