Tag Archives: career tips

Grab A Cheeky Donut! 5 Procurement Resolutions You Can Actually Keep

It’s that time of year again. January has come and gone and you’ve realised that, despite the best of intentions, you’re not actually going to deliver on your personal New Year’s resolutions.

Rather than despairing about all those unrealistic “get fit” goals, how about refocusing your energies on some professional resolutions that will truly benefit your procurement career? The beauty of these targets is that they can actually be met, and won’t be broken in a cheeky late-night fridge raid.

The year has barely begun but we’ve already heard some profound advice from procurement leaders around the world, but here’s the skinny – the real McCoy – the five goals you REALLY need to focus on to reach the top.

So, grab a donut (breaking a healthy-eating resolution while doing so), adjust your focus and rebuild your resolutions to become a world-beater in 2017.

  1. Get tech-savvy

Late last year, I predicted that IT procurement professionals will become the next generation of CPOs (Chief Procurement Officers).

So, if you want to stay in the race, you’ll need to get tech-savvy very quickly. This means making the time to upskill yourself so you will have the confidence to make decisions such as:

Decision Skill-set
Whether to store your company’s precious customer data in the cloud or in data centers. Learn about big data analytics and understand the benefits of the cloud versus data centers.
How to protect your company’s IP and customers’ privacy from hackers. Keep up-to-date with the rapidly changing (and fascinating) world of cyber-security.
How to comply with privacy legislation. Build a relationship with your organisation’s lawyers to learn about data protection laws.
Which technology vendors you should (or shouldn’t) tie your company’s future to. Familiarise yourself with the technology landscape and the big players.

2. Become a Play Maker

Last year on Procurious we talked a lot about procurement’s game changers.

When visualising what type of procurement professional you want to be, you could do worse than become what The GC Index calls “The Play Maker”. It reads a little like a horoscope, but to quote – “Perfectly placed right in the intersection of all GC Index’s four profiles, this individual is interested in people and relationships. They’re best equipped to take on the all-important task of stakeholder engagement, but also managing upwards (C-level) and outwards (supply markets). Play Makers at their best will lead through building productive relationships and helping others to do the same”.

To me, the Play Maker sounds like the perfect procurement professional. A relationship expert who is equally at ease managing the C-suite and suppliers will go a long way very fast.

BME’s landmark Procurement 4.0 study also highlighted how procurement will need to network both vertically and horizontally, inside and outside the organization, to thrive in Industry 4.0.

  1. Put on a show

CPOs today are paid to drive global change and (in case you didn’t know), storytelling lies at the heart of every successful change programme.

I recommend that CPOs and other change-drivers adopt the “the Disney formula”, which involves a core idea (the story) being cleverly communicated through a number of different channels. This technique can be easily adapted into a formula that’s relevant for procurement pros: “the book, the movie, the merchandise, the ride – and the tweet”!

If you can’t see how Disney’s storytelling formula could be adapted to your change-management programme, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Save yourself some time and energy by finding your own inspirational company who demonstrate best-practice, steal their formula, and get to work!

  1. Network your face off

The “n-word” makes most people cringe and break into a cold sweat – but overcoming your fears and mastering the art of networking is well-worth the effort.

Inspired by Kathryn Minshew’s piece for the Harvard Business Blog titled “Network Your Face Off”, Kate Lee of Fronetics wrote a clever blog article for Procurious where she gave seven reasons why you should focus on developing your network in 2017.

Here are the facts – professionals with larger networks earn larger salaries, they’re offered more professional opportunities, they stay in their jobs longer, they are more “in the know”, and (last but not least), they’re happier!

  1. Cyber-study

If one of your resolutions is to build a habit of continuous learning, you’ll need to throw out your old perceptions of professional development and adapt to the brave new (online) world. You can now access the latest thinking and procurement insights on your laptop, smartphone or other device, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. This means there is absolutely no excuse for you not to be plugging those career competency gaps!

Procurious’ learning section is organised into bite-sized microlearning videos ranging from 2–12 minutes, giving you the ability to learn from the best in the business in the time it takes to fetch a coffee.

Never forget that simply asking questions is often the best way to get the answers you need. With 19,000 members (and counting) on Procurious, the possibilities to engage in insightful and relevant discussions are limitless.

Finished your cheeky donut? While you’re picking at the crumbs, let’s make a commitment – to our professional selves, to our procurement teams and to our companies – to supercharge our procurement efforts this year with relevant and achievable career goals. Here’s to an exciting and transformative 2017 for everyone!

Learning the Fine Art of Creativity

We live in an ideas economy where creativity is the new currency. So is it possible for those with less artistic flair to learn how to get their creative juices flowing? 

Register as an online delegate for the London Big Ideas Summit 2017 here.

Everyone’s A Little Bit Creative 

Many of us enjoyed a childhood spent imagining, innovating and creating whether we were painting pictures, constructing dens from cardboard boxes or inventing fantastical make-believe games.

Indeed, the vast majority of research into child psychology suggests that we are all born naturally creative but we subsequently endure an education system or working environment in which our imaginations are more or less stamped out of us.

James Bannerman, a creative change agent and author of Non-Fiction best-seller Genius: Deceptively Simple Ways to Become Instantly Smarter, firmly believes that everyone has the capacity to be creative and innovative. Of course, some adults demonstrate greater potential than others but by employing certain techniques and embracing our inner creativity, we can all achieve additional moments of pure genius.

In a world where innovation is the new currency, procurement teams that fail to execute their ideas with originality will fall behind and die. James will be on hand at the Big Ideas Summit 2017 in London to give our CPOs and online delegates tips to release the creative genius in their teams.

Innovate Or Die

The maxim that organisations must innovate or die has never been more true thanks to rapid technology developments and fierce competition. In procurement, CPOs need to foster their intrapreneurs and work to achieve what Bannerman calls a ‘return on inspiration’:

“ It is easy to become fixated by Return On Investment in business, and often with good reason. The problem with traditional ROI, however, is that it is built upon ‘known returns’.

Creative Thinking, however, is more closely connected with ‘surprise returns’. You don’t always know what you’re going to get at the end of it – because creativity involves ‘the defeat of habit by originality’ (as Arthur Koestler once said in his 1964 classic The Art of Creation.

Yet, to those with an open mind, it can still be worth exploring the world of “return on inspiration”, as the ad agency Golley Slater referred  to it,  to see what comes out the other side”

At the Big Ideas Summit 2017, Bannerman will be putting 50 CPOs through their paces as he introduces them to lateral thinking exercises.

“ During our interactive session we will look at the C.A.N.D.O. model – which I write about in Genius!  This pinpoints the 5 main ways to come up with new ideas, whatever the challenge and whatever the problem: New Connections, New Alterations, New Navigations, New Directions and New Oppositions.

Before we explain what they are, and how they can be used in the real world of work, however, we’ll start off with a few Lateral Thinking exercises.

Take the question ‘What do you lose everytime you stand up ?’ for example. Many people struggle with this question, because they approach it far too rigidly and logically.”Maybe you lose your balance?” or “Maybe you lose the comfort of your chair” etc… If you apply a little Lateral Thinking and spin the question around, however, it can start to become much easier. ‘What do you gain everytime you sit down’ ? You gain a lap!

Join the conversation and register as a digital delegate for Big Ideas 2017 now!

Top Reasons to Advance Your Career With an MBA

Competition for the top procurement jobs is fierce. Have you considered that an MBA might be one way to get ahead of the pack?

MBA

Procurement can be a very competitive industry. Both procurement managers and officers are continually looking for ways to advance their career and beat out other job candidates for the best roles.

If you’ve been in the same position for a while and seem to be struggling to rise higher, it might be time to get your nose in some textbooks and build up your network of contacts through a higher degree.

A Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) can, in particular, be a fantastic option to study. You can choose one of top online MBA programmes to work on part-time, or opt to quit your current role and study full-time instead.

Here’s why you should consider enrolling in an MBA program today.

Job Prospects

One of the major reasons why it’s worth completing an MBA is the job prospects that can come from such qualifications. Having an MBA listed on your resume can help you to stand out from other job candidates in a crowded marketplace, particularly if you’re keen to get into a higher, leadership position.

Employers typically tend to see MBA graduates as having greater business acumen, skills, and knowledge than those who haven’t completed the higher degree. They also appreciate the fact that students will often be more likely to “hit the ground running” on day one.

In addition, having an MBA under your belt can also give you more job security with your current company or within your industry. Employers tend to feel that business school graduates bring more value to their roles and to an organisation in general, by:

  • Having a broader business understanding
  • Being able to handle complex situations
  • Improving adaptability, nimbleness, and innovation
  • Being able to spot inefficiencies and better problem solve

This kind of belief can mean that if the economy tightens or a firm’s results decrease, and people start to be let go, your name will be much lower down on the list than others.

Relationship Building

Another major benefit of studying an MBA is that doing so gives you the chance to meet, and build solid relationships, with like-minded graduates from around the world.

Many people who have completed MBAs find that contacts they made during their studies become invaluable contacts in the long-term. Having this network to use as a sounding board, and to turn to for advice, ideas, and referrals, as you build your career is priceless. These connections can help you to really stand out from others in your company or industry.

Getting to know graduates from across the globe exposes you to different cultures, business practices, points of view, and networks. It’s something you wouldn’t necessarily have in many other types of degrees. MBAs are very international studies, and tend to have strong alumni networks which stay close even in spite of distance.

Learning Practical Skills

Of course, completing an MBA is also certain to give you a wide variety of practical skills which you can use at work every day. For starters, communication is something that graduates really have to get good at during their studies, whether through completing team projects, individual presentations, or work placements.

Working together in teams, and getting a group of potentially strong personalities to move in the same direction, can also help you to learn helpful leadership, management, and negotiation skills for the future. Completing studies while you’re still in a full-time job also requires fantastic time-management skills.

Other transferable skills which students can graduate from an MBA with, and use throughout their career, include:

  • Creativity;
  • Problem solving;
  • Critical thinking;
  • Computer proficiency; and
  • Cross-cultural understanding.

Learn About the Bigger Business Picture

Lastly, completing MBA studies also gives you the chance to stop and think about the bigger business picture. This will help you not only in your current role, but also throughout your career.

MBA coursework typically always involves students looking at the global economy and trading markets. This gets people to think about more than their own little world where they currently work. It also makes it easier to see how events impact on both a micro and macro level in a business.

Tiffany Rowe is a marketing administrator who assists in contributing resourceful content throughout the World Wide Web. Tiffany prides herself in her strong ability to provide high quality content that readers will find valuable.

Are You Sitting Comfortably? Then I’ll Begin…

Treat your next interview like you’re telling a story. Make it engaging. Make it clear. But most of all, make it memorable.

tell a career story

Once upon a time in an office block not too far away, our hero/heroine walked into the most exciting and biggest interview of their career…

For me, a successful interview is like reading an enjoyable story. Stories “create “sticky” memories by attaching emotions to things that happen. That means leaders who can create and share good stories have a powerful advantage over others”(1).

I consistently advise people that I have represented to have their own story and message when attending an interview. An engaging and memorable story resonates with the reader; it holds our attention, keeps the pages turning and becomes memorable in the mind of the reader.

Here are a few points to think about.

The beginning of the story…AKA first impressions.

A great story has a strong start. So if you get an opening question like, “So, tell me about yourself?” or, “So, why are you interested in this role/company”, then start well. Through your opening 2-5 minutes, generate interest and attention in the mind of your ‘reader’.

Use language that feels right for your career story. I think it never hurts to describe things simply but effectively. Try to use words that add zest to your experience and motivations. Just try not to over complicate the ‘plot’.

Don’t lose your reader, keep those pages turning.

What is your message in your story?

Understand what the challenges of the role are, and what are the current and future demands on the organisation. Your recruiter and your own research will help you understand this.

Settle on your ultimate message, then you can figure out the best way to illustrate it at interview. Use your career story to invoke a clear connection between what value and experience you bring and how you can harness that experience for your new prospective Employer. Make the Interviewer want to know the story behind your career. Characterise yourself positively.

Be true to your IQ and that of your audience.

It would be foolish to underestimate your audience. Your interviewer is looking to hear information on your career experience that resonates with them.

They will want to understand you as a character and what you offer and stand for, so never dumb down your message or yourself. Make your story relevant and credible.

Maintain pace, select an appropriate momentum

I’ve heard on too many occasions from hiring managers that an Interviewee started amazingly well, then petered out after 20 minutes. 10 times out of 10, the hiring manager is terribly disappointed – ”Gee, they started so well, we thought we had found our perfect candidate!”.

Like any strong story, start well, maintain the plot, maintain clarity and consistency through each chapter (or job).

Don’t lose the reader, keep those pages turning.

To do this, you must be well prepared. You must have planned your storyline, organised and detailed all sub-plots, and all the characters in your career history. It has to remain relevant to your ultimate message.

A strong ending

Many an interview can lose its way with a fluffy and overly elaborate ending. Be concise and finish strongly. Be positive, perhaps even bold. Don’t fade out with a whimper.

Ask yourself, how many times have you commented on poor or lacklustre ending to a book that you have read. I bet you can remember how that ending made your feel years after reading it. I’ll even bet you never read, or recommended, that story to anyone again!

  1. Extract from the Harvard Business Review – ‘How To Tell A Great Story‘.

The Source is a specialist Procurement mid to senior and executive recruitment and search firm with national reach. We provide tailored contract and permanent recruitment solutions to leading organisations in the Australian market.

Treading the Fine Line Between Assertive and Aggressive

What is the difference between assertive and aggressive, and why does it matter in job interviews? 

assertive

Assertiveness is saying what you mean without being impolite, asking for what you want without making demands. Assertive behaviour helps you to avoid being manipulated or put off easily. This style is far more likely to create a positive impression than either aggressiveness or non-assertion.

Aggressiveness means that you stand out, but not in a good way. Being overly pushy or contrary will probably irritate and alienate the interviewer. You may get what you want in the short term but it may hinder your progress later. On the other hand, passive or non-assertive behaviour can lead to a loss of your self-respect. This is where you let others get their own way and make yourself into a walkover.

It has been reported that interviewers reach a decision about an applicant within five minutes after meeting them. In this time there is little more to evaluate than how you look and speak, how you carry yourself, and how you greeted the interviewer, all clear indicators of your level of self-confidence.

Being confidently assertive helps you reduce the stress in an interview situation and to exercise more control over your working life. Here are three ways to sail through the interview assertively.

  1. Prepare well

It’s a bit like preparing for negotiations. Research your interviewer and the organisation you are intending to work for. Know how to respond to those difficult, and sometimes inane, questions, like what would you do in a conflict situation or what makes you the best candidate for this job. Remember that assertive behaviour is not specifically designed to get you what you want in every situation; in fact, it involves negotiation and compromise.

Bring your notes and don’t be afraid to use them. It makes you look well-prepared. If something of interest is mentioned about the job, pause and write it down. Be professional and be the best prepared candidate they are likely to interview.

  1. Practice your success stories

It is crucial to create a strategy for communicating your accomplishments to your interviewer in a succinct and memorable fashion.  Do you have a C.A.R?  Skilled interviewers will look for proof of your stated achievements by drilling down into the details of what you say you have accomplished.

C.A.R. stands for Challenge » Action » Result.  Write down a few gems relating to work areas that will come up in the interview. By dropping a story into the conversation you can showcase the action that you took to overcome a problem and can demonstrate to your interviewer that you achieved the desired result.

Mini-stories should be succinct and limited only to relevant details, just a few sentences. They will allow you to share examples of your past successes and let your actions speak.

  1. Polish your communication skills

Candidates demonstrate their assertiveness by the questions they ask, as well as the questions they answer. One trait employers look for is the ability to communicate effectively at all levels in an organisation. Being too tentative with senior managers is not a good sign.  People are just people, so speak with confidence and show a positive attitude but with respect.

Come prepared with questions about the job, such as expected results after the first year, where it fits into the organisation and what happened to the person who had the job before. Practice your questions as well as your answers in preparation for your interview.

Speak clearly and use good diction at a reasonable volume. Talking too quickly and loudly is not being assertive, it shows nervousness. Non-verbal cues influence an interviewer’s impression of you just as much your words do, so keep up the eye contact. Express your opinions honestly, but wisely.

What the recruiters say

Candidates show a poor level of assertiveness when they:

  • Show a lack of confidence in expressing achievements and abilities
  • Sound unsure of themselves when answering questions
  • Are overly agreeable to everything said by the interviewer
  • Trail off or mumble instead of clearly completing a thought

At the end of the interview, ask what’s next in the hiring process.  You may not get a straight answer but it is clear that you want to know.

What to do When You Feel Like Quitting

Feel like quitting? It’s important to ask yourself some key questions before you hand in your letter of resignation. 

download-e1476106098769

Moving jobs is consistently rated by psychologists as one of the most stressful events in a person’s life (more stressful, for example, than the birth of a child or planning your wedding). So it’s vital for your own well-being that you manage the whole situation very carefully.

Before you even begin to start the process of hunting for a new job, you need to ask yourself the key question – what’s my motivation?

Why Do People Start Looking Elsewhere?

People look for new jobs for a whole host of reasons, but they generally fall into one of the following groups:

  1. Dissatisfaction with the work they’re doing
  2. Dissatisfaction with their remuneration
  3. Dissatisfaction with their working environment
  4. Dissatisfaction with their manager(s)

It’s interesting to note that people are often only motivated into actively looking for a new job when they are unhappy with more than one of these aspects. If you currently find yourself in this position, here’s my advice.

What to Do When You Feel Like Quitting

Before you storm into your boss’s office with your letter of resignation, you should think carefully about whether your dissatisfactions can be resolved in your current situation. Let’s look at these one by one.

1) Feeling Unsatisfied?

If you are finding your current work is unsatisfying, first check if there are other, more interesting projects coming up for which you could volunteer. Or, if you are finding that your expertise is causing you to become “pigeon-holed” into one area, look into whether there are internal opportunities to cross-train into different and more exciting areas, and gain new skill-sets.

2) Struggling on Your Salary?

If you’re unhappy with your salary, you need to check whether you are being fairly remunerated for the work that you do. This information may not be easily obtained within your company because of individual confidentiality, but job-boards contain a lot of data, and sites like Glassdoor will give you a rough idea of whether you are being paid what your skills and experience are worth.

If you have been with the same company for a long time you may find that your pay has only increased by small increments each year, and your own boss may be unaware that your salary is unfair in relation to the market as a whole. Before you hand in your notice, you should at least talk to your manager, armed with the relevant information, to give them a chance to improve matters for you.

But be warned, you may have already hit the salary threshold for your skill-set, in which case you should think about learning new skills, developing niche expertise or taking on more responsibilities.

3) Unhappy with the Working Environment?

Your working environment covers everything from the company culture (which you probably can’t change) to the working hours and your work-life balance.

People’s needs change throughout their careers: if your domestic situation changes because of childcare needs or caring for a relative, talk to your HR department or manager about adjusting your working hours.

Increasingly, companies understand the cost to them of losing experienced staff (and having to find and train replacements) so they are much more willing to be flexible in accommodating the needs of their teams.

4) Bad Manager?

Perhaps the hardest problem to resolve is a bad manager. Micro-manager, absent manager, unappreciative manager, bully…it’s an old truism that “people leave managers, not jobs”.

If you’re feeling unappreciated you may need to run an internal PR campaign and make sure that your boss has realised all of the things that you’ve achieved for the company.

If the person you report to is irrepressibly miserable, or a shameless bully, you may have the capability to neutralise or ignore their toxic behaviour. However, it may be too emotionally-exhausting and this will be all the worse if the company’s senior management don’t seem to care.

Focus On Being Happy

So, if your managers are steering your company onto the rocks, while paying you a pittance for working every hour under the sun…it’s maybe time to go.

At least you have investigated whether the situation can be saved, and by looking at your motivations you will know which aspects are most important for you.

This will save you many hours of pain and stress in the job-hunting process because right from the start you will know what your “red-lines” are.

  • If you absolutely need a certain level of income to support your family then you can rule out everything below that;
  • If you absolutely need to be able to drop your child at school in the morning then you can focus your attention on those employers who support flexible working hours;
  • If you’re committed to learning new skills then you need to find a company who will truly support your drive for self-improvement.

Once you know what you’re trying to achieve with your job-move then you will be focusing on the things that are important to you, the things that are most likely to make you happier and less stressed. This is really important not just for your own well-being but also because there is a huge body of evidence that proves that happy people work more effectively, and so you are creating a virtuous circle for your next job.

And now it’s time to think about the next key step – your CV!

Richard Harris is Managing Director at Mohawk Consulting. Mohawk Consulting is a specialist recruitment company, working within the professional services market, particularly at the level of experienced hire/manager/director.

What the Numbers Say – Behind the Scenes at Career Boot Camp

Numbers don’t lie! Over 6,500 procurement professionals took our Career Boot Camp challenge. Were you one of them?

cbc by numbers

As the dust settles on one of Procurious’ biggest events this year, we’re taking a look at what the numbers say about what our Boot Campers were most interested in.

Which topics were the most popular over the course or Career Boot Camp? Which of our podcast presenters had the biggest audience? What were the podcasts and articles most shared on Twitter?

Membership Boom

First up, the great news for all Procurious members is that our online community has grown bigger and stronger than ever.

Just over 870 new users signing up over the course of Career Boot Camp. That’s 870 more procurement and supply chain professionals for you to share knowledge with and add to your ever-growing professional networks.

On top of this, a staggering 6,500+ visitors listened to at least one of our free podcasts, while nearly 20,000 people read one of the great article that were published during the campaign.

It was great to see so many of you engaging with the podcasts and the content. If we’ve all taken just one lesson from Career Boot Camp, then we can start getting our careers on the right track!

Most Viewed Podcasts

We shared 15 podcasts, coming from a range of fantastic Career Coaches. If you missed out on hearing any of these, you can now catch up with them in the Procurious Learning area.

But which of the 15 podcasts were the most listened to?

  1. Give Your Career a Cardio Boost” – Founder at Procurious, Tania Seary
  2. Incubate Your Big Ideas on the Job” – VP Strategy and Market Development at Coupa, Gabe Perez
  3. Five Surefire Ways to Become a CPO” – CEO at ISM, Tom Derry
  4. Become a Global Player” – Cultural Diversity Expert, Dr Tom Verghese
  5. Take Your Conscience to Work – Finding Meaning in your Procurement Career” – Business and Enterprise Director at Social Enterprise UK, Charlie Wigglesworth

The interesting thing about this top five list is that it’s such a mixed bag of topics. We’ve gone from Tania Seary’s “Kick-Off” podcast that got Career Boot Camp off to such a great start, to topics on progressing in your organisation.

Not to mention the fact that two of our most popular podcasts came from Tom Derry and Gabe Perez, representatives of two of the profession’s important organisations (ISM and Coupa).

Looking further down the list, we see two topics that are front of mind for nearly all procurement professionals. Our increasingly global marketplace is putting demands on our cultural intelligence and diversity knowledge. Dr. Tom Verghese’s message really hit home with you all it seems.

Then we had the topic of social value and social enterprise, with Charlie Wigglesworth from Social Enterprise UK. All professionals, but in particular procurement’s Millennials, want to make a wider difference in their careers.

Working with social enterprises struck a chord with you, and allowed us to build on our learning on the topic from Big Ideas 2016.

Best Reads

As well as article from our Career Coaches, we also invited our influencers and community to share their thoughts. We received an overwhelming number of articles (thanks!), and they really helped spread the word about Career Boot Camp.

Amongst the content were some articles that seemed to inspire you all with the career message. Our Top 5 here were:

  1. Only 24 Hours in a Day – Manage Your Time Wisely (Procurious HQ)
  2. Does Your CV Pack a Punch for a Real Live Human? (Andy Wilkinson, The Chameleon Career Consultancy)
  3. Career Espresso – 5 Minutes a Day Fast-Track to Success (Tania Seary, Founder, Procurious)
  4. The Top 5 Ways to Stand Out In Procurement (Anna del Mar, Head of Learning & Development, Future Purchasing)
  5. How To Land Your Dream Job? You Gotta Work For It (Lucy Harding, Partner and Global Head of Practice at Odgers Berndtson)

The top five most read blog articles show that Procurious readers value practical, actionable career advice.

From tips on how to start on the path to landing a dream job, down to detailed advice on time management, the most popular articles delivered an array of best-practice career advice.

Social Media by Numbers

We also spread the good word on Career Boot Camp across our social media platforms. The articles were well shared and read across the board.

Within the articles, there were a few topics that got people coming to see what Boot Camp was all about. These were:

  1. Does Your CV Pack a Punch for a Real Live Human? (Andy Wilkinson, The Chameleon Career Consultancy)
  2. The Top 5 Ways to Stand Out In Procurement (Anna del Mar, Head of Learning & Development at Future Purchasing)
  3. Irresistible Procurement Candidate? Have a Finger in Every Pie (60 Second with Rhonda McSweeney, Group Manager of Procurement and Contract Management at CS Energy)

It again shows that people were interested in the really detailed tips and career advice. But at the same time, they were interested to hear what our CPOs and influencers had to say for their own career advice too.

#CareerBootCamp: What Twitter Had to Say

The Career Boot Camp hashtag was tweeted out more than 1,200 over the course of the campaign, and reaching a potential audience of just under 400,000 users.

Once again, the Procurious HQ team can’t thank all our followers and supporters enough for their help with this. Your help allowed us boost our numbers and reach a truly global audience.

Global Activity for #CareerBootCamp
Global Activity for #CareerBootCamp

It’s great to see such large numbers of procurement professionals taking an interest in their careers. We hope you got as much out of Career Boot Camp as we did, and that you’ve already started making changes for your procurement career.

Although Career Boot Camp is over, there’s no need to despair. You can still listen to all fifteen podcasts via Procurious for FREE here.

Why the Traditional Procurement Skill-Set Won’t Make a CPO

Perfecting a traditional procurement skill-set traditionally is a sure-fire way to stop your career progression in its tracks.

skill-set

 

A large part of my professional career has been devoted to leading global procurement organisations around the world. My business partner, Sammy, and I have collectively spent the better part of five decades doing this.

It’s true enough that we gave it all up and we are now in our own practice (The Beyond Group AG), following our own rules. However, those years instilled in us a number of ideals, which, on reflection, were less crucial than we were conditioned to believe in the earlier stage of our careers. Luckily, we have been smart enough to realise it over time!

It’s Time to Check Your Skill-Set

What am I referring to?  As we develop our procurement careers we have a notion that a certain skill-set is expected of us. Proficiency in category management, price analysis and negotiation tactics, to name a few, are most typically associated with the procurement function.

Whilst softer skills come into play as you advance into more senior roles, procurement professionals are expected to demonstrate aptitude for these sharper procurement skills from the offset.

We spend the vast majority of our professional lives honing these very same capabilities.

In my experience, these skills can only get you so far and certainly not into the CPOs chair. In today’s world, there is an important arsenal of skills demanded of CPOs.

These skills, as well as scoring above the traditional ones, will largely supplant the capabilities procurement professionals have been diligently polishing for so many years.

Organisations will simply demand of us that we are much more than we are today.

Where’s the Proof?

For the last five years, The Beyond Group has been at the forefront of dealing with the issues pressing the procurement function to change. We hold annual Think Tanks where a limited number of invited companies send their senior procurement people to deeply delve into a specific topic over the course of 4 and a half days

In 2016 we addressed the skills and capabilities needed by procurement professionals in the future.

Over the course of our three sessions we brought together practitioners, academics, professional recruiters and insightful speakers to help us pinpoint the skills that will differentiate between simple buyers and the new leaders of the function.

Assess, Analyse, Solve

Our sessions follow a specific agenda.  In the first session of the Think Tank we assess the real issues we are trying to solve. Then, in the second session we analyse options and debate outcomes.

In the third and final session we get to the bottom of the issue and try to solve it by coming to a collective understanding and collaborative solution. This year was no different.

This year the collective output of the group was that three sets of capabilities will define the CPO of the future:

1. The Business Partner (know your customer)

  • Intrapreneurial agility
  • Game Changer capability
  • Credible Experience

2. The Cross-functional integrator (manage your internal relationships)

  • Consultative skills
  • Project manager
  • Credible performance

3. The Alliance Manager (know your market)

  • Big Picture view
  • Ambassadorial skills
  • Risk and conflict manager

Most interestingly, despite the fact that we had a roomful of procurement professionals, not one of the “traditional” skill-set appeared anywhere on this list of the skills future CPOs need.

Place for ‘Hard’ Skills

This is, of course, not to say that hard skills no longer hold value in the procurement industry. It’s crucial that procurement pros master the skills associated with an interconnected supply chain: horizontal networking through social media; big data & analytics; and cognitive computing (e.g. Industry 4.0).

However, it is my belief that these will be rudimentary in the future and, as such, it won’t be necessary to call them out. They will simply be part of the assumed knowledge that everyone will have. We will continue to explore this theme in our future Think Tanks.

Sammy and I have taken to heart what a respected mentor once said to us: “You must lead with your head, heart, hands and guts”.

This has a very different, and more profound, meaning than it did some years ago in the procurement world.

Giles Breault is Principal and Co-founder at The Beyond Group AG, a specialised research & advisory firm focusing on the topic of “what’s next” in Procurement, and Business Productivity.

Some Procurement Lessons Just Can’t Be Taught

Not everything in life can be taught. Why is attitude more important than aptitude…(and almost everything else).

taught a class

David Hearn is the Chief Advisor at CPO Advisement Services, specialising in effective change management and the successful implementation of eProcurement tools.

With 20+ years leading direct and indirect sourcing and procurement groups under his belt, David has some great advice to offer regarding the importance of building good relations, retaining millennials with challenging roles and what defines the procurement talent gap.

David keenly asserts that the attitude of his employees is of the utmost importance. Only with a good attitude, good relationship building skills and effective collaboration can you build a successful career. Everything else can be taught.

1. What were your first 3 jobs?

My first job was as an engineer for General Motors where I was responsible for sourcing parts.

I moved on to the telecommunications company, AT&T. As a system consultant here I developed skills in selling, influence and relationship building. 

My third job was at Sun Microsystems as global sourcing manager. Whilst here, I honed skills gained from my first two jobs and learnt more about business partnership. 

2. What’s one thing you know now, that you wish you’d known at the start of your career?

 I wish I’d understood the importance of building relationships with the people you work with, internal and external. Good working relationships enable you to accomplish so much more, faster.

3. How can CPOs attract and retain millennials?

There are a number of ways to retain the enthusiasm of millennials in the workplace. Don’t given them boring, stereotypical procurement roles. Instead, craft new roles which allow them to learn on the job whilst delivering tangible results that they can be proud of.

Millennials want to contribute to the common good so it’s a good idea to find projects for them which have a positive impact on the world.

Finally, it’s a smart move to rotate millennials through multiple roles quickly.  Keep them learning, motivated and challenged.

4. Does the procurement talent gap exist? Or is it just as perception problem?

The only gaps are in soft skills such as relationship building, influence and collaboration. These skills are necessary in order to be a success as a trusted business partner.

5. What’s more important for your hires – attitude or aptitude?

Attitude – 100 per cent. Anything else can be taught but you can’t teach attitude.

6. What key skills are critical for procurement in the next 5 years?

  • Relationship building
  • Collaboration
  • Influence
  • Selling
  • Leadership

The Procurious Career Boot Camp will increase your stamina, get you in the best career shape of your life and help you stand out from the crowd.

It’s not too late to sign up. Enlist here and get access to our 15 free podcasts from some of the best career coaches around. Don’t miss out – your career will thank you for it!

5 Reasons Why Your Organisation Needs to Offer Sabbaticals

Sabbaticals were once confined to a few professions such as academia and the clergy, but are increasingly working their way into the HR policies of businesses across every sector.

quitting-job sabbaticals

You’ve just lost one of the most valuable members of your team because your organisation’s inflexible HR policies meant she couldn’t take six months off to travel with her family. Offering a sabbatical would have saved you the time and expense needed to recruit and train a replacement.

Does this sound familiar? How many of your best workers have quit for this reason? Where once sabbaticals were only offered to a select group of people, more and more organisations are offering them as part of their employment strategy.

Here are five reasons you need to offer sabbaticals to your team. 

  1. Retention

Let’s face it. Businesses across the board are struggling with retention, with millennial staff generally jumping ship every 2.5 years.

A sabbatical policy might just be the magic bullet you’ve been looking for to increase retention and longevity of employment. For example, you could offer a short sabbatical (paid or unpaid) after 5 years’ employment, a longer sabbatical after 10 years, and so on.

Remember, the alternative is having the employee quit to pursue their dreams, while you’re left with the expense and trouble of finding a replacement.

  1. Rejuvenation

There are so many reasons employees may want to take a sabbatical: study, travel, volunteering, health, family and so on.

But one of the underlying motives for people to take a career break is that we’re not machines – after a few years in the same role it’s natural to start feeling burnt out or stuck in a rut.

That’s why sabbaticals are essential for revitalisation, giving employees an opportunity to rediscover their mojo, rebuild their enthusiasm for their career and come up with new ideas.

  1. New ideas

As mentioned above, sabbaticals are traditionally associated with academia, wherein researchers take a paid break to spend time on activities related to their career or research, usually in a different geographic location.

The reasoning behind this is that people can’t be expected to come up with new ideas or creative thinking by simply sitting in their office – they need to find inspiration in other parts of the world and meet colleagues who are approaching shared challenges differently.

There’s no reason why this same concept shouldn’t apply outside of academia. A sabbatical will give your employees the opportunity to bring new thinking and creative ideas back to your organisation, even if they didn’t engage in any strictly career-related activities on their break.

  1. Expect career breaks to become increasingly popular

According to Elizabeth Pagano, cofounder of YourSabbatical.com, “the concept of working for 40 years and then retiring is outdated. People should be able to inject bursts of time off into their career paths.”

Putting off the pursuit of dreams such as travel or studying until you’ve retired (and over 60 years of age) can mean that you run the risk of no longer having the health or energy necessary to do those dreams justice.

Another reason sabbaticals will become increasingly popular is the security they offer for people taking a career break. Knowing that your job is being held for you is immensely reassuring.

The alternative is to quit your role, which could mean you’ll worry about your financial future during your precious time off and spend the last three months of your break on the phone to recruiters.

  1. Win the war for talent with attractive sabbatical offering

As sabbaticals become more widely accepted, expect job-seekers to ask about your sabbatical policy as they consider if your company is right for them. I

f a star candidate is choosing between your company and a competitor, a generous sabbatical policy might just be the factor that gets them over the line.

Remember, sabbaticals will not only help you attract talent, but retain people for years longer than the rapidly shrinking average term of employment.

Five tips for HR when building an offering for sabbaticals

1. Create a policy

A sabbatical policy will help you attract and retain talent, give employees a goal to work towards, and lay out a clear framework about how sabbaticals work.

It’s important to be absolutely clear on what activities would constitute a paid sabbatical, but keep in mind that for unpaid sabbaticals, the reason for the employee requesting the career break isn’t relevant.

2. Be flexible

A sabbatical could be your best way to retain a valued team member who was otherwise likely to quit.

Flexibility is key – even if that person hasn’t met the criteria such as the minimum period of employment, offering a sabbatical may still be a better alternative than letting them go.

3. Plan ahead to fill gaps

Ask the employee for a detailed handover plan well ahead of their career break, and consider involving them in the hiring process if a replacement is needed to fill the gap while they are away.

4. Discuss contact during the sabbatical

Many sabbatical-takers would choose to have zero contact with their workplace while away, and that’s fine.

Others, however, may want to retain a level of contact through regular emailed updates, or simply through social media.

5. Organise a return-to-work interview

Bring the employee up to date on organisational developments, projects, and new goals and targets that have occurred while they were away. A return-to-work interview will also enable you to capture any new ideas they will bring back to the team.

Does your organisation offer sabbaticals? If not, how would you convince your boss to offer one? Leave a comment below!