Tag Archives: career tips

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.

Young, Female & Stuck in a 1950s Procurement Department

It’s the 21st century, so why, as a female, do so many procurement departments feel like they’re stuck in the 1950s?

female 1950s procurement

It’s a news story that never gets old: women are still paid less on average than men.

Procurement is a profession that continues to perform poorly compared to other industries. CIPS research has found that there is a 21 per cent gender salary gap for private sector advanced professionals. In real terms, this means that women receive £12.7k less per year at this level.

POOL4TOOL’s partner, Kloepfel Consulting also performed research on the Procurement market. It’s findings were almost identical.

This is the 21st century – shouldn’t things be different?

Workplace culture

Part of the problem is cultural. Biases that underestimate the economic power of women remain, even in relatively progressive countries. Some workplaces still have an inflexible culture that is resistant to change. These are often the kinds of workplaces that suffer from subconscious discrimination against women.

This is even true of workplaces where women are well-represented. This puts women and minorities at a disadvantage. It also suppresses new ideas, innovation and necessary change.

Young, female, ambitious

But this is not an employer Boot Camp – this is the Procurious Career Boot Camp! So what can a young female professional do if they find themselves in an environment that is still mired in the 1950s?

Before I landed in my current role, I spent my 20s in a series of different work environments. I’ve also had my fair share of horrendous career advice over the years.

So here are my top three career tips from a decade of being young, female and ambitious in the workplace.

1)    Don’t be afraid to be different

There is a time to learn the ropes, and there is a time to do things differently. While there is pressure to behave the same as more established employees, you will stand out for the things that only you can do. This also represents added value for your employee.

Procurement is an important interface between company departments and suppliers. Being yourself and thinking independently is a key strength in managing relationships.

Put it this way – nobody ever got into a leadership position by being like everyone else. Whether leading from the front as a manager or leading from the back in another role, leadership requires the courage to be different.

2) Capitalise on low-value projects

At the start of your career, sometimes you have to live with low-value projects. This can be frustrating, especially when you see colleagues with glamorous assignments.

However, low-priority projects are great precisely because others are often not interested in them. This is an advantage because it gives you a lot of free reign to make a project your own and turn it into a success.

It is tempting to hold back from making low-value projects successful. The fear is that you will get even more low-value projects. But this could result in no success at all. It also gives your employer no way to measure your abilities.

Some employers do give low-value projects to successful employees ad infinitum. Those are the ones that need to change their staff development policies!

3) Accept that you will be a different person in 6 months

If you’re anything like many talented people, you may not believe in your own abilities. There are a lot of bright people who think that they are not competent or experienced enough.

But young professionals have a great capacity for high learning curves. They can also quickly pick up competences from their environment.

If you can’t do something now, in 6 months’ time, you could already have the confidence and the ability to perform that task.

The Procurious Career Boot Camp is a great place to exchange thoughts and experiences. Do you agree with my three tips? What have been your experiences? What are your tips?

How Women Can Accelerate Their Procurement Leadership Careers

The ‘think manager, think male’ perception is interfering with women’s procurement leadership progression. But change is in the air…

glass ceiling female procurement leadership

No doubt by now you’re familiar with the following. Women tend to wait to apply for promotional roles until they are 100 per cent ready, whereas men jump in when they are just 60 per cent ready.

This mini-boot camp to accelerate your career is for you if you know you’ve got talent, have the desire to do more with your career, yet don’t feel like you’re progressing at quite the right rate.

The good news – there has never been a better time to accelerate your career. Over the last five years, more women are moving into senior roles and gender-imbalanced professions, including procurement.

While times are changing, the bad news is that ‘think manager, think male’ still prevails. And it’s interfering with your ambition and your career development.

The Divergence of Perception

How? The need to display dominance is associated with leadership and traditionally seen as a male attribute. Where women express dominance directly, they are seen as unlikeable, and are less likely to be hired.

Women who put themselves forward for promotional opportunities may be seen as ‘pushy’ or ‘aggressive’. However, men are seen as ‘go-getters’ and ‘straight shooters’ when they do.

Even where male and female leaders are assessed as having the same leadership capability, men receive higher ratings for performance and potential. Women receive less feedback on their leadership, even though, when they do, they are more likely to adapt their behaviour.

Women tend to attribute setbacks to themselves, (“I knew I wasn’t good enough”), whereas men attribute setbacks externally, (“This is a tough job”). This is flipped for success, where women tend to attribute success to external factors like luck, and men to their own capabilities.

Lack of Female Role Models

Women must successfully negotiate a minefield of expectations across both female and male characteristics to be seen as effective leaders. In addition, the degree of vigilance and attention to their impact on others is high.

So, women who are ambitious and want to lead are often caught in the ‘damned if you do, doomed if you don’t’ trap. The trap exists between the need to be competent and assertive in order to be respected as organisational leaders, but also warm and nurturing to enact their ‘appropriate’ social role.

And despite the increase in women at the top, there’s still a lack of female role models, which is a real problem, because ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’.

All of these things feed insecurity and fear of failure, and reduce motivation to lead, which is important for being noticed as having leadership potential and helping you attain leadership roles.

People high in motivation to lead identify strongly with leading and are intrinsically motivated to lead. Women tend to have a lower motivation to lead. This shows up early in careers (actually, in girls still at school).

Set Your Sights on Procurement Leadership

To reverse all of the above, and set your sights on making it to CPO, you need to increase your confidence in your own leadership identity. One way to do this is by identifying concrete role models.

Role models help increase feelings of self-efficacy in leadership, the development of your identity as a leader, and increase your positive feelings about being a leader.

Creating a strong, confident story-line that is congruent with your own values, and having a presence that holds attention, are critical to succeeding in leadership roles, and work on these will help you flex your career muscles.

Here’s a mini boot camp to accelerate your procurement leadership career:
  1. Find yourself role models and exemplars of leadership. Analyse what they do, how they do it, and why it appeals to you.
  1. Do some self-analysis, (no, you don’t need a couch for that – this is a boot camp after all!) and be clear about your sense of identity, your values and your leadership purpose. Why do you want to lead? Be brave. Dream big.
  1. Having done 1 and 2, write your own narrative about the leader you want to be. Script it, edit it, refine it, use it! And repeat.
  1. Reverse your attributions. When things go well, practice attributing your success to your own capabilities. For example, “My ability to remain calm under pressure helped us get through this crisis”. Attribute setbacks externally – for example, “This is a tough project”.
  1. Build a strong support team, your own personal board of advisors. Your board should include guides, advisors, mentors, career advisors, and career guides as well as role models; they’ll help you with the above four steps.

You can also take part in a larger Boot Camp for your career, with Procurious. It’s a great opportunity to learn from some of the best minds in procurement leadership roles.

Or sign up to my Women in Leadership Accelerator programme and really power your career. Mention this article to receive a 10 per cent discount!

Irresistible Procurement Candidate? Have A Finger In Every Pie

Why cross-divisional experience will make you an irresistible procurement candidate.

irresistible procurement candidate

Rhonda McSweeney, Group Manager of Procurement and Contract Management at CS Energy,  tells us why cross-divisional experience and team diversity are so important in the procurement function by drawing on her twenty years of corporate experience.

Considering her background in medical science, Rhonda explains how she has grown to value the transferable skills she learnt in the early stages of her career before moving into procurement roles and how this has influenced how she recruits and builds teams.

1. What were your first 3 jobs?

I didn’t work in procurement at the beginning of my career and, in fact, started out as a medical scientist.

I later took on the position as a regional manager for a global diagnostic firm before progressing, within that firm, to national sales and marketing manager.

My third position was at The Global Travel Group where I was a business leader in acquisition and integration.

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

I have learnt that medical science, and science generally, as an undergraduate degree wasn’t irrelevant to the GM Commercial roles I’ve filled in the latter half of my career.

The ability to think analytically, understand concepts, and also to understand problems and carry out root cause analysis, is very applicable in a business environment and not unique or exclusive to a career in science! 

3. How can CPOs attract and retain millennials?

Millennials need help from CPOs to understand how procurement can provide a very unique and privileged view of a business.  Procurement offers insight into to all aspects of a business; from operations and business services, to manufacturing and sales, to marketing, and beyond.

Gaining this insight helps to create a very well rounded business individual. I like to promote it as “free business learning”, being able to have insight into the other divisional areas that you wouldn’t necessarily be subjected to otherwise.  I think this is a great fit in the era of millennials who are typically on the “fast-track”. 

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

Depending on your procurement mindset, it could be a combination of the two. I like to attract a diverse team in which there are cross-divisional backgrounds, for example, engineering, operations, or sales to name a few, while also ensuring a mix of individuals with strong commercial, contract, and/or supply chain backgrounds.

I have always tried to achieve this mix and have found that I can up-skill, and cross-skill, when necessary. I look for strong behavioural attributes on all accounts  to trump any technical learnings with the firm belief that these can be taught.  Having an enquiring mind, grasping concepts, working successfully across boundaries and establishing relationships and strong communication cannot be taught!

5. What’s more important for a candidate – attitude or aptitude?

It is important to have a mix of both. If I had to have a bias, I would sway slightly towards attitude. The ability to ask the right questions, and acknowledge that you do not have all the answers,  can resolve any aptitude gaps.

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

Cross-divisional experience is fundamental in procurement. It is so beneficial for employees to complete rotations within a business, therefore experiencing as many aspects as possible.

This will produce a well-rounded, commercial individual, who will create a compelling candidate for the procurement industry. This experience, balanced with the right behavioural attributes, will be essential going forward.

Does Your CV Pack a Punch for a Real Live Human?

It’s all very well being able to get your CV past a computer algorithm. But how can you make sure it packs a punch when it lands in front of a human?

optimise cv for human

In my previous article, I discussed the power of using the right keywords to make sure your CV gets past the recruitment gates. With more recruiters than ever using digital searching and algorithms for creating candidate long-lists, you want to be sure that your CV stands up digitally.

Now let’s assume you’ve got your CV past the robots, and in front of a real, live human being. Impressing the robots isn’t nearly enough, we need to get a human on side too! You want to be sure that, having got the CV past the algorithm, a human is going to be suitably impressed, and invite you to meet face-to-face.

While the last piece was just as relevant for LinkedIn, this article is much more applicable to CVs. LinkedIn has very different requirements, so applying the premise of this article to it should be done carefully.

We’ll look at a couple of things in this article that should help your prospective recruiter or employer find the most relevant information to them, in as fast a time as possible.

Reverse-Engineering

At this stage it’s still key to have the right keywords in place. Whether formal or subconscious, our human will have made a list of things they are looking for. Whether they are reading or just scanning your CV, I guarantee there will be phrases they are looking for.

You need to ask yourself, “What is the searcher looking for? How can I show that in an easy to find and accessible way?”

If you deliver that in your CV, your CV will make the “long-list” more often, giving your CV more chances.

Your keywords are the backbone of the CV. You identify your keywords, your core skills and competencies, and then build your CV around that to demonstrate that you are the right person for the role. The only two things a CV can ever positively demonstrate are:

  • What you’ve done
  • How well you’ve done it

What we are trying to do is lay out your skills in an achievement-focused, concise manner. Remember, the reader’s attention might be as short as 3-5 seconds for recruiters, and 7-10 seconds for HR or line managers.

So how do you put across what you’ve done in a professional, concise and achievement focused manner? The good news is Procurement is one of the easiest sectors to be able to do this. Bear with me!

How to Structure a Bullet Point

If you follow this structure your CV will be easy for people to pick out what they are looking for.

Word 1: Pro-active language

The use of pro-active language as the first word in each bullet point allows you to be more concise. It also gives the reader the impression you are a “get up and go” personality without you having you say it.

Use words like:

  • Drove
  • Delivered
  • Implemented
  • Initiated
  • Took ownership for

There are obviously hundreds more, but you want it to make it obvious you took the bull by the horns, and YOU did whatever it was.

Word 2-5: Subject

Putting the subject second in the structure allows someone looking for something specific to skip the rest of the line if this isn’t what they are looking for. You only get 10 seconds to make your impact, make sure they are looking at what you want them looking at for that 10 seconds.

For example, “Drove marketing spend consolidation”.

Words 5-10: Achievement or Responsibility

If you are writing your CV with separate Responsibility and Achievement sections, then you will need to vary this.

In Responsibility section

  1. Pro-active language
  2. Subject – responsibility
  3. Achievement

In Achievement

  1. Pro-active language
  2. Achievement
  3. Responsibility

Make sure you put meat on the bones here and use quantitative numbers. You wouldn’t sell your boss a project to “save some money”. You would say something along the lines of “with an investment here we can save 10 per cent or £30,000”.

The 4 groups of people you are trying to communicate with are Procurement, Board level executives, recruiters or HR. All of these groups are highly numerate and commercial.

HR can be less so, but quantitative deliver more information and are hardly ever detrimental (as long as your CV doesn’t turn into a Suduko puzzle!). Use their language to your advantage.

The quantitatives don’t even need to be value based – they could be man-hours, supplier consolidations, or times. But people remember numbers (that’s why politicians use them) so put them in. It will also make your CV more concise.

For example, “Drove marketing spend consolidation with senior stakeholder and supplier engagement saving £500,000 annually.”

Past Tense

Always put your CV in the past tense. If you forget to add an achievement, or can’t find one, then just being in the past tense (with the right language) implies success.

If you do those 4 things consistently your CV will be a document that will be easy to read and interpret as well as look professional and put across a massive amount of your success and delivery.

Building on over a decade of corporate recruitment (and reading in the region of 250,000 CVs), Andy Wilkinson set up The Chameleon Career Consultancy to coach CV Writing, Interview Technique and LinkedIn Profile writing. 

If you would like any advice on any of these areas or more help on your CV feel free to get in touch by e-mail, or visit the Chameleon website or LinkedIn page.