Tag Archives: career tips

The Top 5 Ways to Stand Out In Procurement

There are millions of procurement professionals in the world. So what skills are going to make you stand out from the crowd?

stand out

There are millions of procurement professionals around the world. And every single one is different.

Which is fortunate, given the range of activity which Procurement has to undertake, and the different characteristics which are necessary to succeed in those roles.

In amongst that diversity, there are a number of characteristics which the most successful can display. These characteristics are ones worth cultivating in our careers.

There is no particular order here. But our top five ways to stand out will always contribute to success, both when working in the organisation and when we’re seeking to develop our careers.

Communicate like a Professional

This is true in many parts of the business, but is absolutely critical for Procurement. We’re often trying to sell hard ideas, to get concepts across, to change opinion and views, and to do all of that we need to be excellent at communication. Not just Powerpoint, but using a wide range of media, types of communication, styles and messages.

We also need to be excellent at preparing and rehearsing our communications, getting them on point and noticeable, able to stand out above the in-company noise. To do this, we need to spend time practising and getting our messages right.

As Mark Twain once said, “I didn’t have time to write you a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”

Be hard on yourself, and seek to improve. Being able to prove your understanding of the way Procurement needs to communicate and influence upwards with examples, will impress any recruiter.

Take the Wider View

Procurement can be accused of being one dimensional. We can get sucked into delivering price based targets, and loose sight of the bigger picture.

To operate effectively, we need to be excellent at maintaining a broader commercial perspective for the organisation, and making sure we’ve got both the short view and the long view in our sights.

The best in Procurement stand back and take in what the business really needs to achieve. They seek a balance between often conflicted requirements from different stakeholders. If we can maintain that overview, we will often deliver far more than if we get sucked into a one dimensional view.

Showing business aptitude and seeing procurement in terms of solving business problems, is an extremely valuable asset to any procurement function.

Bounce Like a Rubber Ball

Procurement can be tough. As the people on point for delivering value from the supply chain, we often can feel the weight of the business on our shoulders, while still trying to get through to a value improvement we can see but can’t quite reach.

To maintain a high degree of performance we need to have a high degree of resilience, to be able to bounce back and keep going. Holding onto our core beliefs, keeping going when it’s being sought and getting to the outcomes we want to achieve are great outcomes all by themselves.

There is no doubt that Procurement requires tenacity. Be able to prove your ability to stay the course for long term sustainable results rather than short term glory.

Network

The technical stuff is often less of an issue than the people stuff. This means that we need to network hard, identify the decision makers and opinion formers, and be aware of their issues and agendas.

Knowing who people are, what their concerns and needs are, and being able to reach out to them to both influence but also to offer support, is a massive help when trying to progress our own agendas.

It isn’t a one way street of course. These relationships are precious. We need to make sure we’re managing our relationship resources, just like we should be protecting our time. Show how you value your network and how this helps improve the positive effect of procurement.

And finally…

Know your Stuff

There’s nothing better than watching someone with a fantastic grasp of category and business issues making a case.

Having a broad grasp of what is happening in a market, how it relates to the business overall, looking at short and long term effects, providing imaginative solutions which test the range of what is possible, with stakeholders aligned or at least neutral, with a thought through plan of action. Those are the days when the future of Procurement looks brightest. The individuals delivering that insight will look like stars in the organisation.

Whilst you may not need to have deep category knowledge to get your dream job, having an understanding of procurement excellence and the challenges of buying in markets is key to bringing true expertise to the function and will be seen as an asset.

None of the above happens by default. It requires personal insight and understanding to make sure that skills and attributes develop in these areas. Spending time in each area is extremely worthwhile. Taking time out appraise ourselves in these areas, or get feedback from others, will give a big step up in how we’re viewed.

Good Luck!

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!

Is Generation X The Forgotten Generation?

Is Generation X the equivalent of the middle child? Is it the forgotten generation? Unsurprisingly there’s more to the generation than that.

generation x

“In general, middle children tend to possess the following characteristics: people-pleasers, somewhat rebellious, thrives on friendships, has large social circle, peacemaker.” (Parent Magazine)

Generation X includes adults in their mid thirties up through age 50. They – or I should say WE – are younger than baby boomers and older than Millennials. There you go! I’ve now summed up everything most people know about Generation X!

But there is so much more to our generation – especially when you look our potential for career development. Baby boomers are retiring and Millennials are just getting started, while Gen X is transitioning into the vast majority of leadership positions.

Even though Gen X’ers are an up and coming group, we don’t get much attention. We are the forgotten middle children in a crowded professional landscape. And yet, we are also the answer to many of the professional challenges being faced by our older and younger peers.

An Inter-Generational Bridge

A 2014 article from The Pew Research Center stated, “…in most of the ways we take stock of generations – racial and ethnic makeup; political, social and religious values; economic and educational circumstances; technology usage – Gen X’ers are a low-slung, straight-line bridge between two noisy behemoths.”

If you look at most of the writing about the generations in the workplace today, commentary that isn’t about Boomers or Millennials, is about how they struggle to work together. Clearly a bridge is exactly what they need.

By combining the traits of people in Generation X with the characteristics of middle children, we are given a unique opportunity to help ourselves, our peers, and our companies by being independent peacemakers who are ready to blaze new trails and leverage the power of our networks to make change happen.

Dear Baby Boomers, Share your wisdom and we will make your legacy soar

While not all you baby boomers are on your way out, the vast majority of you have gone as far as you are going to go professionally. Making sure that your career experience is not lost to retirement requires it to be passed down to someone who can understand it.

You lament that you have little in common with Millennials, making it hard to connect and communicate with them. Gen X, on the other hand, shares quite a bit with the Boomers, and we are in line to fill your positions next.

By passing along your wealth of knowledge to Gen X, you ensure that your legacy lives on and that the organisation achieves a kind of continuity. This also takes advantage of a whole new range of opportunities, and helps translate the lessons of the past to the conditions of the future.

Dear Millennials, We can help you make your revolutionary ideas a reality

Despite the fact that we seem just slightly less old than everyone else you report up through, we aren’t as established as you might think. We have seen a lot of change come to the workplace – we’ve driven some of it.

We’re (almost) as tech savvy as you are, and we have a lot of experience with change management. We also know a thing or two about how to work the room, and have the connections that will help us sell your ideas in a way that respects their spirit while making them seem achievable.

By working together with Gen X, you can take some of those wild new ideas you’re so famous for and make them possible – without having to wait until you are in their thirties.

Take it from an X’er that was in her 20’s about 15 minutes ago – you are going to be 35 in a flash.

From One Gen X’er to Another

Baby Boomers and Millennials have an edge in that they are getting a lot more coverage than we are, but we must accept some level of responsibility for that as well. The advantage of being – well – ignored, is that we have lots of extra time to prepare ourselves for the professional roles still to come.

Get an MBA, earn a certification, take a class, build a diverse network of colleagues, and do it in a way that is uniquely ‘X’.

We want to be connected to our colleagues, which is made easier by the fact that (unlike the Millennials) a lot of us will pick a general area of professional focus and stick to it over the course of our career.

Many Gen X’ers have families, which means we have an incentive to commit to a company for a few years at a time – simultaneously increasing our impact at that organisation and boosting our earning potential.

On the other hand, we aren’t bound by geography, which might otherwise see us spending our precious networking time in Flinstone-esque ‘Lodge’ meetings with local procurement professionals.

We are fortunate to have at our disposal sites for virtual networking that allow us to form new relationships quickly and easily, not to mention all over the world. With this power, we can leverage ideas across industries and continents in a way that our predecessors could only dream of.

The biggest challenge for Generation X is defining our own identity. The best way to do that is by leaning on each other. Not to the exclusion of the other generations, but in a way that allows us to leverage and amplify the power of our own generation.

The Procurious Career Boot Camp will increase your stamina, get you in the best career shape of your life and help you to punch above your weight.
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!

Are You Taking Your Social Conscience to Work?

Nothing is more embedded in how a business behaves than procurement. But are we, as professionals, taking our social conscience with us to work?

charlie social

A senior procurement figure at a major Fortune 500 company told me a story a few weeks ago of a conversation he’d had with a former boss.

At the time, they were pushing through some changes to the procurement process. The procurement head had voiced concerns at how staff would react. His boss responded by saying “if you want to be popular in procurement, get a dog.”

A number of other procurement professionals I’ve spoken to over the years have similar sentiments about their role, or at least how it is perceived.

Procurement is seen as being a service provided to the rest of the business. It is concerned with reducing cost, minimising risk, and is seen as having little bearing on the wider strategic direction of the business, or the relationship of the business to society.

A Social Purpose

This perception (if it was ever true in the first place!) is being fundamentally challenged. My organisation, Social Enterprise UK (SEUK) has just launched the Buy Social Corporate Challenge. Businesses involved in driving this initiative include Johnson & Johnson, PwC, Santander and Zurich Insurance.

The aim is to spend £1 billion with social enterprises, businesses which explicitly trade for a social purpose. These businesses are delivering a whole range of services with profits benefitting society, such as software testing businesses employing people with autism, office supplies companies with profits going to fund micro-finance, and logistics businesses working with the long term unemployed.

So, why are these businesses driving this? My view is this would be in response to three things: strategic drivers (at a macro level), business drivers, and personal drivers for procurement professionals themselves.

Strategic Drivers

Strategic drivers largely revolve around the changing nature of how business views its relationship with society. Post-financial crisis, businesses and business leaders have focused on moving from traditional CSR (typified by being divorced from core business activities, reactive and largely non-strategic) to sustainable business or “CSR 2.0”.

This places sustainability is at the heart of the way in which the business operates. Nothing is more core to the business than its supply chain. Hence why procurement is an excellent position to look at this.

Business Drivers

Business drivers very much follow on from the strategic. Changing consumer behaviour and a new era of transparency means that credibility, trust and reputation are key. Businesses cannot afford to deliver work that is skin deep or doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.

In England, government has also looked to address this. The Social Value Act (which my organisation was very involved in driving through) is a piece of legislation which requires public procurement to consider community value alongside quality and price when scoring bids.

As well as driving change in the £120 billion government spend each year, it is having an impact on private companies looking to win business in these markets.

Again, supply chains are an excellent place for companies to demonstrate their commitment to deliver value to communities.

Personal Drivers

Personal drivers relate directly to procurement professionals themselves seeing the opportunity for procurement to take centre stage in helping their companies to respond to the above drivers.

As well as the job satisfaction that comes with it for them personally, rather than being seen as a service to the business, this work places procurement professionals at the heart of corporate strategy, delivering work that no other part of the business could do.

Delivering on the Promise

So, how can you as an individual deliver on this? Our top tips would be:

  • Make the ask of your supply chain. How can they support your company’s social objectives, like working with young people, or challenging stigma around mental health?
  • Partner. No-one is expecting you to be an expert on this. Work with organisations, like SEUK, who have shared goals and objectives, and get them to support you
  • Engage internally. As well as external partners, make sure your business is bought in. Work with CSR teams, senior leadership and internal communications. You’ll soon find that the work will attract a lot of positive interest.

Clearly much of my work is focused on social enterprises, which don’t exist in great quantities everywhere in the world (although the movement is growing rapidly in many markets).

Regardless, I believe the above principles still stand in all markets. This can be seen in the U.S., for example, in the supplier diversity initiatives that have happened there.

As well as creating benefits for your organisations, there is also tremendous personal satisfaction in how your work can change people’s lives, as well as deliver value for your organisation.

The Procurious Career Boot Camp will increase your stamina, get you in the best career shape of your life and help you to punch above your weight.

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!

All Hard Work and No Networking Equals Incomplete Career

All the hard work in the world won’t compensate for a lack of networking skills. It’s your network that’s going to take you to the top.

hard-work

Johanne Rossi, CPO at Caltex, and The Faculty’s ‘CPO of the Year’ for 2016, asserts the importance of procurement professionals honing their networking skills as a career-boosting priority.

She also discusses her approach to motivating and retaining employees, lists the key skills procurement professionals require and explains why the perception of procurement as an “un-sexy” profession is responsible for the talent gap.

1. What were your first 3 jobs?

  • Management Consultant with Accenture in France, UK and the USA
  • Head of eSourcing with CPGmarket (consortium between Nestle, Danone and SAP)  in Germany and Switzerland
  • Supply Chain Lead with Nestle in Australia and South Africa

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

One thing? There are so many things I wish I knew about myself, about others and about the corporate world. The ride would have been so much smoother and quicker!

One thing that really stands out for me is the realisation that working very hard is only going to get you so far. Networking and influencing is the true currency for career success.

3. How can CPOs attract and retain millennials?

Millennials or not, my main focus is people. Most of the people I work with are millennials anyway!

I try to work with the following ideals in mind:

  • Inspire people to come to work and have fun.
  • Care about people: listen to who they are and let them focus on what they love, are good at or have an interest in.
  • Embrace and share with employees the fact that I am vulnerable and a bit crazy.
  • Share with my employees my vision, which has to be ambitious, aligned to the corporate vision and make them proud to be part of the team.
  • Recognise accomplishments and praise people in front of others.
  • Develop people and keep them excited.
  • Don’t tolerate poor performance.
  • Don’t treat everyone equally, encourage and recognise the top performers.
  • Focus on people and relationships, not process and rules.

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

The gap may lie in the fact that Procurement is not yet viewed as the sexy profession it actually is, and as such the most talented people are not coming to us in spades.

Having said that, things are changing. More and more incredibly well-rounded and brilliant people are joining the Procurement ranks. This is super exciting to watch!

Procurement is an amazing way to solve business issues, get leadership visibility and learn new skills while making a difference to organisations.

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

Definitely mindset. We need people with a growth mindset, who “embrace challenges, persist in the face of setbacks, see effort as the path to mastery, learn from criticism and find lessons and inspiration in the success of others”[1].

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

I feel procurement professionals need to be well-rounded with the following competencies:

  • Influencing and communicating well.
  • Facilitating and working cross-functionally.
  • Seeking results and being accountable.
  • Building relationships.
  • Solving problems and thinking strategically.
  • Managing total value chain costs, being analytical and understanding risks.
  • Being humble, innovative and ethical.
  • Being agile and handling complexity and ambiguity.

[1] Source: Taken from Carol Dweck, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

The Procurious Career Boot Camp will increase your stamina, get you in the best career shape of your life and help you to punch above your weight.

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!

Feel the Burn! Introducing Week 2’s Career Coaches

Repeat after me: I Can Do This. You don’t fail Career Boot Camp, until you quit. And these career coaches won’t let you.

career coaches

Career Boot Camp got off to a flying start last week. Our 17,000 Procurious athletes were pumping iron every day thanks to some top tips from our week one career coaches.

It’s understandable if your muscles are starting to ache now, but stick with us until the end of the boot camp programme to reap the benefits of a strengthened and honed career plan.

Don’t Abandon Your Regime Now!

Euan Granger, Procurious’ Community and Content Manager, is confident that the Procurious boot-campers will stay committed, even as we approach the half way mark.

“People abandon their exercise regimes for many reasons. However, stereotypically it comes down to lack of time, lack of enjoyment and lack of motivation. We’ve crafted a programme that is succinct, snappy and easy to access for those who are short on time and, crucially, maintained a communal, interactive environment for those taking part.

“Procurious members can learn and share ideas or responses to our podcasts with 17,000+ others. It’s the perfect way to keep motivation and positivity at a high.”

It certainly helps that our Week Two career coaches are no less qualified. Coming up are podcasts from the Chief Executive of a B2B marketplace with over fifteen million listed items, and a widely-published, and very recognisable, speaker and procurement author.

The podcasts will, again, cover a range of diverse topics including networking, online presence, personal branding and Big Ideas.

DAY SIX – Monday 26th September

gabe-perez‘Incubate Your Big Idea on the Job’ – Gabe Perez, VP, Strategy & Market Development, Coupa Software

Biggest Boot Camp Achievement: Holder of the World Record for number of Procurement-Push-Ups in one hour

Your biggest and best ideas can not only improve your organisation, they can catapult you into more impactful roles. Gabe Perez draws on his experience in sales, implementation and solutions consulting, to develop go-to market strategies across Coupa’s solutions portfolio.

Whilst with Coupa, Gabe has held a number of diverse roles including project managing and running the pre-sales team globally.

In his podcast, Gabe will discuss how to incubate your big ideas, why so many ideas don’t get executed correctly, or at all, and how to ensure that yours does. 

DAY SEVEN – Tuesday 27th September

stuart-brocklehurst‘Coach of the Year: Become the Manager Every Team Wants’ – Stuart Brocklehurst, Chief Executive, Applegate Marketplace

Tips for Staying Motivated in Week 2: Believe in yourself. Acknowledge the achievements you have made so far. Don’t compare yourself to others. This is YOUR boot camp journey.

 Who are the best managers? Is it the ones who win popularity contests? Or the straight-shooting, confident leaders with a “magic formula” for bringing out the best in their people?

Stuart Brocklehurst shares the skills it takes to stand out as a successful leader, while also earning the respect, and trust of your team.

Based on his widely diverse career so far, Stuart will also be offering some top management tips, including why it’s important to say no, how to articulate your vision, and gaining the trust of your employees. 

DAY EIGHT – Wednesday 28th September

tania-seary‘Use the Force: Network Your Way to the Top’ – Tania Seary, Founder, Procurious – the world’s first online procurement network

Choice of Work-Out Snack: Hard-boiled-eggs and spinach

You never know when effective networking is going to enhance your career, your personal life, or unearth a key connection that could add millions of dollars in value to you or your company.

With her passion for all things supply management, Tania is changing the way procurement professionals learn, advance and exert their influence.

In her podcast, Tania will discuss creating relationships, how to network authentically, and how to balance social and formal networking.

DAY NINE – Thursday 29th September

jason-scheer-a‘How to Make Yourself More Valuable Online’ – Jay Scheer, Senior Digital Marketing Manager at THOMASNET.com

Mentor Muscle Mass: 99%

If we’ve learned anything in this digital age, it’s that establishing a strong, social presence is critical to getting ahead in your career.

Jay’s role at THOMASNET.com, the go-to resource for supplier discovery in North America, includes overseeing content creation, website optimisation and social media. As such, he is a font of knowledge as far as the value of online presence is concerned.

Jay will discuss what procurement professionals can do to improve their presence online. This includes dispelling the notion that personal and professional accounts should be separated, and how to showcase your individuality.

DAY TEN – Friday 30th September

sigi-osagie‘Unleash Your Procurement Mojo’ – Sigi Osagie, Leadership Advisor, Mentor & Author

Favourite motivational Song: Eye of the Tiger

How do you harness the mojo you were born with to reach your fullest potential in procurement? Sigi Osagie arrived in the UK as a penniless immigrant. before forging a successful corporate career. He draws on his personal experiences to inspire readers and audiences through his writing and speaking.

Sigi’s thought leadership has been featured in several publications including Supply Management, Engineering and Technology and Lean Management Journal.

His podcast will address how to invest your most critical resources in your career development, how to build and manage your persona brand and why the importance of believing in yourself should not be underrated.

Find Career Boot Camp a little too fast-paced last week? You can catch up on any missed podcasts here.

The Procurious Boot Camp will increase your stamina, get you in the best career shape of your life and help you to punch above your weight.

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!

Dealing with Diversity – The Importance of Cultural Intelligence

Do you have the cultural savvy it takes to be considered a global player? The one characteristic that global procurement professionals need is cultural intelligence.

tom-verghese

When we are procuring domestically, we don’t think about our own culture. It isn’t until we are procuring and dealing with people of different cultures around the world that we have to think and function with a global mindset.

Culture is reflected in what is considered normal. It is tacit. We don’t think about it on a conscious level, but when we step out of our familiar cultural environments, culture does matter and we do notice it.

One of the biggest challenges when procuring across cultures is that we often have expectations that other people are similar to us and that they ‘play by the same ground rules.’ These are dangerous assumptions.

Defining Cultural Intelligence

Cultural Intelligence (CQ) is the ability to work effectively across cultures. CQ supports global leaders in their cross-cultural interactions, providing greater insights and understandings into the behaviours, values and attitudes of others from a cultural perspective.

Cultural Intelligence consists of four components:

1. CQ Drive – The interest, motivation and confidence to adapt to a multicultural situation. It consists of intrinsic (i.e. meaningful work) and extrinsic interests (i.e. financial rewards), and the drive to learn and understand different cultures, their norms and behaviours

2. CQ Knowledge – Understanding cultural similarities and differences. This includes knowledge of the values, norms and practices in different cultural settings.

3. CQ Strategy – Awareness and ability to plan for multicultural interactions. It incorporates how we apply our CQ Knowledge insights. For example, checking assumptions and observations, and engaging in active inquiry when interacting with people of different cultures.

4. CQ Skills – The ability to appropriately adapt verbal and non-verbal communication in cross-cultural situations, including how well we can adapt when things don’t go according to plan.

Strategies for improving CQ Drive:

  • Take some unconscious bias tests and seek feedback.
  • Identify your passions and why you care about them.
  • Reflect on what guides and influences your behaviours and attitudes toward culturally diverse groups.
  • Welcome opportunities to mentor others as a ‘cultural broker.’

Strategies for improving your CQ Knowledge:

  • Choose a culture that interests you. Read a novel, magazine or local newspaper from an overseas site, or an author native to that country.
  • Listen to overseas radio programmes.
  • Visit culturally significant places to learn more about them. For example, a mosque, synagogue or sporting venue.
  • Visit art galleries or museums that display stories and artworks from other countries. These help you to gain a deeper understanding of why and how they were created and their cultural significance
  • Continuously observe body language, facial expressions, gestures when you are interacting with people of different cultural backgrounds
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. People love to talk about their culture. This can also be a great way to build relationships.

Strategies for improving CQ Strategy:

  • Practice detaching yourself from the situation and observing. You will be more impartial and less judgemental. You will see and hear the things that are not being said.
  • Practice pausing. Pause and reflect on what you believe is occurring, how you are experiencing the moment, and how you feel, and then make the necessary adjustments.
  • Observe your own behaviours and emotions when you are in different cultural settings, such as what you are thinking and feeling.
  • Learn basic small talk, norms and appropriate social behaviours that are culturally appropriate.

Strategy for improving CQ Skills:

  • Pay attention to hierarchy.
  • Learn some basic language. For example, sorry, thank you, greetings, etc.
  • Spend time planning how you are going to act, react and manage your own expectations, and those of others during conversations.
  • Modify your tone and speed of speech according to your observations and language competency of the receiver.

So, what will your strategy be to improve your Cultural Intelligence, and build your global effectiveness?

The Procurious Boot Camp will increase your stamina, get you in the best career shape of your life and help you to punch above your weight.

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!

How to Land Your Dream Job? You Gotta Work For It

Let’s face it – your dream job isn’t just going to fall into your lap. If you want to land it, you’re going to have to work for it.

dream job

Landing your dream job doesn’t just happen. Moving your career forward to achieve your ultimate objectives takes planning, effort and time, and the planning needs to start well in advance of when you actually want to make the move.

Be Realistic

Understand what your ultimate goal is and the role you are targeting. Take a good look at your experience and be honest, are you ready for it? Are there gaps in your experience that will ultimately mean there are stronger candidates right now?

If so, take responsibility and make a concerted effort to gain the additional experience needed. This could be areas such as broader industry experience, team leadership, international exposure or a wider set of categories.

If you feel you are ready, at least 6 months before you want to make the move, start to get to know the people that can help you. The right role will take time to come to the market so you will also need to be patient.

Ready, Steady, Go!

Make sure your CV is up to date. Ensure it is concise, fact and evidence based with achievements, not just bland personality statements.

It needs to be the right balance of detail that you can back up at interview, but not so long and winding that your achievements get lost in the 5 pages of narrative. Two to three pages maximum is ideal. Page one should make the greatest impact, otherwise pages 2 and 3 may never get seen!

Then you need to find out who the recruiters are that are most likely to help you. If you know them already, drop them a line and let them know you are open to hearing about new roles. Think about asking to catch up for a coffee.

Ask them for their advice on the market generally, how your skill set compares to their clients’ needs, and what do you need to be doing to ensure you are credible candidate. If you don’t know them, you need to!

Many senior roles are not advertised and are run by executive search firms. You need to make sure you are on their radar. Try to go for a face-to-face introduction if possible.

Use your network of contacts, as well as previous colleagues and bosses who have moved to new companies. They may know of opportunities that again are not advertised. Trusted personal networks are a valuable source when looking for your next role; let them know you are open to new opportunities.

Social media is a vital tool used by recruiters and in-house talent teams to identify potential candidates. Make you sure you have a visible online profile that is professional, and an accurate reflection of your career and achievements.

The Interview

The recruitment process is a long one – be prepared for this. There are usually at least 3-4 rounds of interviews before any offer is made, often more. In addition, psychometric assessment can also form part of the process.

You need to be committed and flexible to put the time in. Hiring organisations, whilst they understand everyone is busy, can get a little nervous of a candidate’s motivation if they are very difficult and inflexible when it comes to interview availability.

We all know the basics. Be on time, smartly dressed, polite to everyone (I always ask our receptionist as well as my researcher and assistant for their impression of the candidate I’m interviewing), and well read on the company and the individuals you are meeting.

Use your network to find out information that may help you be more informed at the interview. Shape your answers to be relevant to the challenges the new company is facing.

Make sure you are concise with your answers, answer the question that is asked, and provide the relevant amount of detail and evidence in your responses. Woolly, unspecific answers create doubt.

Overall, be honest, be yourself and be authentic.

The Procurious Career Boot Camp will get you in the best career shape of your life, help you to punch above your weight and land your dream job.

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!

Knowledge is Power – And The Path To Success

Knowledge is power and the path to proactive procurement. If you don’t have the facts and knowledge, you can’t make the right decisions.

knowledge-is-power

Laura Faulkner, Head of Supply Chain Services at RBS, explains how understanding stakeholder needs can help procurement be much more proactive. Having the knowledge of all stakeholders and the strategies of your organisation with regards to customers, products and innovation.

She also touches upon the benefits of mentoring, why the basics of good procurement shouldn’t be forgotten and the significance of curiosity as a key skill for procurement professionals.

1. What were your first 3 jobs?

My first job was at Polaroid as a Materials Buyer for their Film Division which I started as soon as I finished university. I  worked closely with the Planning department and the Production Lines.

I joined GSK two years later as a Facilities Buyer initially focusing upon Soft Services and then the Fit Out and Servicing of the new HQ GSK House.

Following that, I joined Ernst & Young to work on the development of their new HQ at London Bridge. This was all before I grew my career at RBS from 2002 to where it is today.

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

When I set out I believed that as long as you understood the needs of the stakeholders you worked with, then you could deliver the right supply chain solution. I soon discovered that this approach is too reactive.

It’s also important to know as much as possible about the organisation you work for, including its strategies for customers, products and innovation. 

It’s only possible to truly and proactively add the most value and deliver a supply chain that ensures long term success once you have the knowledge of what is driving the general business. We need to help our organisations join up the dots across all areas.

3. How can CPOs attract and retain millennials?

CPOs need to be flexible and offer as broad an experience of the profession and the organisation as they can. It shouldn’t be seen as a failure if, after a time in Procurement, a graduate decides to take up an opportunity in another area of the business.

Instead, look at this as Procurement being a bedrock of talent development and an exporter of young talent. And always offer a return ticket!

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

Having curiosity and an inquisitive mind are key. Procurement professional can keep learning about their organisation, supplier capabilities or technological trends. This will help to offer insight and add true value to your business.

As ever, understanding your Stakeholders is the key to success. Take the time to map out key relationships and assess current status, including what’s needed to make them the best they can be.

Finally, we need to focus on getting the basics right, from contractual rigour to KPI compliance. Push the boundaries of what we can offer through SRM and technology innovation, but don’t forget the basics of good procurement.

5. How valuable have mentors been in your career?

Mentors have been, and continue to be, absolutely key in my career. I have valuable people I reach out to inside and outside my current organisation, and I am always keen to consult with these people before any big decision.

6. What are you looking for in high potential recruits for RBS?

Curiosity, intellect and enthusiasm. What more could you ask for?! 

The Procurious Career Boot Camp will increase your stamina, get you in the best career shape of your life and help you to punch above your weight.

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!

Master Your Craft – How to Step Into The Shoes of a CPO

Want to climb the procurement career ladder to the very top? If you want to be a successful CPO, you need to learn from the best.

tom-derry cpo

ISM is focused on helping you reach your career goals. As the CEO of Institute for Supply Management, I am in daily communication with CPOs who work in a variety of industries.

Because of this, I understand what it takes to be successful in that position. While each individual has a unique and valuable skill set, there are common threads of what has made it possible for them to thrive in their roles.

I want to share what, in my opinion, are key factors to help you on the path to CPO.

1. Master Your Craft

Whether it’s being an expert at preparing a category plan, cost analysis, a total cost of ownership analysis, what you do has an impact on your organisation’s bottom-line. When your leader needs someone to get the job done you need to be the go-to person.

As you become a master of your craft you are able to free up more bandwidth which will allow you to take on new – possibly more strategic – opportunities.

2. Deliver Reliable Results

Outcomes matter in business. We need to be able to establish a track record, consistently follow through, and be relied upon to deliver. That ability to be seen as someone who can deliver, builds your professional reputation and makes you an invaluable member of a team.

Particularly in our field this often relates to being able to hit cost reduction targets while possessing a keen understanding of where risk resides.

3. Know the Whole Business

Today about 80 per cent of spend in a company is external, and 80 per cent of that is managed by the CPO. The entire business is sitting on this cost structure, which the CPO is ultimately responsible for.

Clearly, we impact the whole business – we must understand it.

In addition, we need to understand how what we are sourcing meets the demands of our end customer. I might be sourcing a basic commodity, like a resin. That resin could be a critical component of a product that drives 30 percent of our company’s revenue.

The company’s success relies on my ability to source that commodity.

4. Model Your Behaviour

You have an extraordinary opportunity at an early age to represent the company to external third parties. It’s common for young professionals to sit down with the CEO of a supplier to work out the next contract.

Be conscious of this and take this incredible opportunity to learn from people who are seasoned in the profession.  Watch how they handle a negotiation, diffuse a conflict, or how they turn your point around to their favour.

Witness this and then model your behaviour based on how other, more experienced professionals, handle these situations.

5. Find a Mentor

Look for someone in your firm or where you previously worked or both. A mentor will be available to ask questions about new assignments, unforeseen challenges, and offer career advice.

Finding someone who is not your supervisor allows you to ask these types of questions in a pressure free environment. Developing these types of relationships will become your professional network and increase exponentially in value throughout your career.

Listen to Tom Derry’s Career Boot Camp podcast here.

The Procurious Boot Camp will increase your stamina, get you in the best career shape of your life and help you to punch above your weight.

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!

Career Espresso – 5 Minutes a Day Fast-Track to Success

There is nobody on this planet who cares more about your career success and advancement than you.

5-minutes-for-success

I know it sounds harsh, but it’s true.

Of course you’ll have some super-supportive bosses, well-meaning peers, family and friends along the way. But nobody other than you will be investing anywhere near the same amount of time and energy thinking through your career options and developing the best strategies to progress you up that career ladder.

Take Control of Your Success

The only common denominator in your career is you”

This career advice was given to me years ago by a Global CEO, and it has always stuck with me.

And quite frankly, you are the one who is going to benefit most (fame, money, self-satisfaction) from getting ahead. You should be the person most motivated to get ahead.

And unfortunately, you are the only one who can actually do the work required. You can’t outsource your own professional development!

In today’s business environment, getting the training you need is tough. But the good news is that in five minutes (about the same time as it takes you to drink an espresso), you can get the daily information you need to keep your career on the fast-track to success.

No Budget, No Time, No Training?

Taking full accountability for your training is definitely the first step to fast-tracking your career. But you then face a number of other hurdles.

Large companies have cut budgets so severely, that there is rarely any money to attend, or travel to, the really great procurement conferences and specialised training.

Not only is training funding non-existent, many procurement teams have been forced to downsize to such an extent that they can’t afford to have too many people out of the office at one time.

This is dramatically different to the world in which your bosses grew up in where MBAs were funded, elaborate corporate leadership development programs were in place, and attending conferences were all part of the job.

But this is the reality of the modern economy. This is the business environment you are trying to develop in. And one in which you will also need to nurture and develop other future leaders.

You need to throw out your old conceptions of professional development and training and adapt to the brave new world. This is all about taking matters into your own hands and going digital for success.

Learn Online or Become Obsolete

Globalisation and technological change is disrupting every aspect of procurement. Even when you are motivated to take accountability for your own training, it’s difficult to keep up with everything that’s going on.

Global CEOs are aware of the need to motivate employees to take their professional development into their own hands, and dramatically up-skill themselves now and in the future.

For example, “Adapt, or else”, were the new marching orders for employees of AT&T earlier this year.

Faced with competition from not just from Verizon and Sprint, but also Google and Amazon, the telecommunications giant is now working aggressively to make sure its employees catch up and get ahead of the changing technology of the times.

Its CEO and Chairman, Randall Stephenson, isn’t afraid to mince words about what will happen if his employees don’t.

In an interview with the New York Times, Stephenson said those who don’t spend five to 10 hours a week learning online “will obsolete themselves with technology.”

“There is a need to retool yourself, and you should not expect to stop,” Stephenson told the Times.

Anytime, Anywhere

We often joke about doing procurement training at home in your pyjamas. But this is exactly what you can do today.

You can access the latest thinking and procurement insights from around the world on your laptop, smartphone or other device, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

This means there is really no excuse for you not to be plugging those career competency gaps!

Start a Lifelong Habit Today

Starting today, for three weeks, challenge yourself to commit just 5 minutes a day to strengthening your career muscle by enlisting in Career Boot Camp.

By signing up to Procurious, you will wake up to a new podcast (five minutes), blog and lively discussions centred on a different career topic each morning – all to help you get into the best career shape of your life!

Getting involved in the Career Boot Camp will also help you start an important habit. Just a few minutes of daily learning can make the difference between you standing still, and delivering more impact through your role.

Get Connected. Get Ahead!

If you want Procurious to send an invitation to your procurement friends and peers to participate, we can arrange this. Simply reach out to our Community Liaison Manager, Laura Ross via e-mail.

Or, simply refer your team to enlist here.