Tag Archives: procurement recruitment

Don’t Let Procurement Be a Career Cul-de-Sac

The message from our Big Ideas Summit people panel discussion? Please don’t let procurement be a career cul-de-sac!

People remain one of the hottest, and toughest, topics for Procurement. Covering millennials, attraction and retention, employee value proposition, and Brand Procurement – this panel discussion had it all!

Featuring Lee Gudgeon from Reed Global Tom Derry, CEO, ISM; Lucy Harding, Odgers Berndtson; and Procurious’ 10,000th member, Siddharth Sharma – direct from KPMG India.

Here’s how the discussion unfolded:

Is the “millennial” generation all that different?  If so, what do you think, heads of procurement should be doing differently to attract and retain millennials?

Tom: As the proud father of three millennials, Tom believes the next generation of Procurement talent demand authenticity from their leaders, and are more socially conscious and aware.

“Millennials are looking for opportunities to be employed where their values are engaged, rather than just making a living. As managers, we need to understand that they want to work for companies who’s values they believe in. Patagonia is a company that gets this and has prospered as a result,” suggested Tom.

Lucy: While Lucy agreed millennials have different motivators and different values, she’s suspects that this is more about their stage of life and that we weren’t so different at that age.

Lucy also made the point that sustainability, social responsibility are not just issues for millennials – but that Gen X’s and Boomers want to work for companies they believe in too. Judging by the numerous head-nods around the room, our audience agrees.

Lee: From REED’s vantage point, the main differentiator between ‘us’ and ‘them’ is in the way Millennials want to access information. Rather than a corporate brochure, Millennials want a photo on Instagram or better still, a video of ‘what its like to work in the business”.

“HR needs to get smart about how they communicate Procurement’s value proposition using new technologies,” suggests Lee.

Interestingly, Lee also believes its not just millennials who are demanding great technology at work, but Procurement practitioners at every age and level.

“If procurement practitioners are going to deliver on expectations, they need to be equipped with the best technology – great systems are a huge and often overlooked – employee value proposition.”

Siddharth: Agreed that the issue is less about different values, and more about the avenues that are open to us to express views.

“What was done 20 years ago on paper, is now done on mobile,” said Sid.

Always a topic that ignites some passion, we threw the People discussion over to the audience. Some of our favourite, most controversial take-outs are shared below:

A rising star and our only true millennial in the audience, Mike Murphy O’Reilly, asked: Are we using the wrong word? Rather than millennials, are we really talking about Digital Natives?

For Mike at least, the difference is not so much in terms of values, but in the way we want to receive information and expectations we have of technology.

Anna Del Mar: Suggested that the real problem in attracting and retaining young talent lies with the ‘Frozen Middle’ which despite the energising and inspirational CPOs out there, can be a very unattractive to graduates coming through.

Cutting straight to the core as always, Gabe Perez offered the view that millennials, more than anything, are looking for opportunity. Linking back to his earlier presentation, Gabe warned: “Just like our supplier enablement processes and systems, we need to make sure our HR processes don’t make it more difficult for innovative, exciting talent prospects to get through the door in the first place!”

Tom Derry: Agreeing that a ‘frozen middle’ can exist in any organisation, Tom noted that leaders need to be able to make hard calls and make the necessary change needed to deliver.

Ever one of the most passionate procurement pros we’ve come, Helen MacKenzie asked: Are there enough Good News Stories about Procurement? Procurious loved Helen’s suggestion that perhaps we need a book, a movie, a TV-series about a Procurement Super Hero!

Wanting to know if these procurement issues are unique to procurement, Lance Younger asked: Is every function facing the same challenges as Procurement with respect to talent?

In response, Lucy Harding believes talent remains an issue for every part of the business but a rod we have made for our own backs: “We’ve created silos, and judge people on depth of vertical knowledge – creating narrow but deep skills.”

Adding: “We must challenge the notion that Procurement is a career cul-de-sac,” – a point widely picked up by Twitter.

Speaking on behalf of the professional association, Tom Derry believes that over any other function, Procurement has one unique advantage: We understand the upstream demand, the supplier, the structure of our industry, our market place – so if we capitalise on that and prepare to become GM of the business, or remain functional managers only – to our detriment.

And always delightfully controversial, Peter Smith, SpendMattersUK asked: So why is it still headline news when a CPO becomes CEO?

A good point neatly dealt with by Tom Derry: “That’s true but I believe things are shifting. Today, businesses compete on basis of their supply chains, and so I think we will see more examples of CPOs making the shift to the top job.”

Why Future CPOs Need to Walk the Talk

Procurement is changing and its leaders need to change to in order to succeed. Lucy Harding tells Procurious why it’s behaviours, more than technical skills, that will define future CPOs.

Lucy Harding - future CPOs

Lucy Harding, Partner at global executive search firm, Odgers Berndtson, is considered to be the UK’s leading CPO headhunter. She believes that for future CPOs, behaviours and business acumen will carry more weight in recruitment than technical skills.

Lucy’s involvement in Big Ideas is consistent with her view that future CPOs and leaders need to have the following key attributes:

  • The ability to create a function that brings insight and innovation to an organisation
  • Use of the best technology tools and trends to enable your team to be effective.
  • Ability to access and excite emerging supply partners
  • Ability to attract and retain the best talent – tuning in to the millennials motivations and creating roles that offer challenge and development

At the Big Ideas Summit 2016, Lucy will be taking part in a panel discussion, which will discuss attracting the top talent to procurement, and what skills will be required by future CPOs and other procurement leaders.

The thing I’m most looking forward to about the Big Ideas Summit is meeting new people that have interesting ideas on how to move the profession forward. It’s exciting to see the breadth of speakers and contributors that will be able to discuss emerging and future trends that the function needs to get to grips with.

What are the key differences between the skills required for executive level procurement, and the mid-level roles?

The difference between the skills needed at the mid-level and those required at an executive level are behavioural, rather than technical. This is the same for any functional leader (HR/Finance/IT) as they become the head of their function. Technical competence is a given. At senior levels, after a number of years in a function, everyone should be technically competent.

At the margin, the difference is leadership, broader business acumen, financial numeracy, and breadth of experience gained across a range of industries and geographies. To land the top role, an organisation will be looking at you not only with that role in mind, but what can you do next.

What would you say are, or will be, the key attributes of procurement leaders in the next 5 years?

  • The ability to create a function that brings insight and innovation to an organisation
  • Use of the best technology tools and trends to enable your team to be effective.
  • Ability to access and excite emerging supply partners
  • Ability to attract and retain the best talent – tuning in to the millennials motivations and creating roles that offer challenge and development
  • The ability to structure your organisation that gives you the best access to global talent
  • Someone who doesn’t talk procurement language to the business
  • A combination of procurement and business skills
  • Experience of living and working in emerging markets

Do you see any patterns or common issues when it comes to your executive searches?

Clients are increasingly keen to recruit “business leaders first, functional excellence second”. International experience, with a breadth of industry sector experience is also in high demand. Above all, the ability to engage with the business, and do what you say you are going to do, is critical.

This is becoming increasingly evident, since many of the searches I undertake have elevated the positioning of the role, and therefore visibility to the Board is heightened.

Procurious focuses a lot on the individual brand and social media presence of all procurement professionals. How important is this for recruitment in the profession?

Social Media is an increasingly important tool for recruitment. At the junior and middle management levels it’s often used for candidate identification so a well presented profile is vital to get “found”.

At the senior levels where Odgers Berndtson operates,  whilst candidates may be found via sources such as LinkedIn, social media is a useful tool for candidates to use to research those they are going to meet during their interview process. As a senior leader looking to hire, it’s important that you use social media as an attraction tool about you as an individual leader that top talent would want to work with.

A word of caution also. All search firms and employers themselves will conduct online media checks on potential candidates, therefore it’s important to ensure that all information on line about you is suitable and professional.

Lucy Harding talk about these topics in more detail during one of our panel discussions at the Big Ideas Summit on April 21st.

If you’re interested in finding out more, visit www.bigideassummit.com, join our Procurious group, and Tweet your thoughts and Big Ideas to us using #BigIdeas2016.

Don’t miss out on this truly excellent event and the chance to participate in discussions that will shape the future of the procurement profession. Get Involved, register today.

Stories from The Source – Part Two: Sanne Gruter

The Source Recruitment Consultant Sanne Gruter gives Hugo Britt her top tips for procurement professionals to excel in their next interview.  The Source Interview Tips

Read Part 1 of this series here.

In more ways than one, Sanne Gruter is the international face of The Source. As part of her portfolio she looks after the fast-growing international sourcing part of the business, reaching out to potential candidates in markets including the UK, China and Singapore. Sanne is also ‘international’ in that she hails from Holland, has a partner from Uruguay, and has found a fulfilling and exciting career here in Melbourne, Australia.

Sanne’s academic history is impressive – she holds a Bachelors degree in Applied Psychology, and an International Masters of Culture, Organisation and Management which integrates anthropological, sociological and psychological approaches to identity, politics and cross-cultural co-operation with management and organisation theory. She enjoys the challenges involved in recognising, qualifying and nurturing top talent.

What made you decide to come out to Australia?

I love to travel, and still take every opportunity I can to see the world. I was out here in Australia travelling as a tourist, and of course I loved the sunshine. Melbourne, in particular, really appealed to me as the home of the Australian Open! So when the opportunity came up to join The Source, I took it.

How do you use your qualifications in your day-to-day role as a recruitment consultant?

My knowledge of psychology helps me be aware of the subjective element in almost everything I do. Recruiters need to remember that they’re dealing with real people, who have emotions and agendas. When I work with candidates I always let them know if they’re coming across as too aggressive or lacking in energy. Usually, people don’t know they’re doing it. Basically, I try to teach people to be convincing in interviews.

Is there anything unique about recruiting for the procurement profession?

Absolutely. I’ve found that procurement professionals are master negotiators – candidates want a lot, and they play hard on the salary negotiations. The clients we recruit for are excellent negotiators as well, and we generally find that they’re prepared to wait for the right talent to become available.

Where do you find your candidates?

Mainly through headhunting and networking. We reach out to people we believe are relevant for a specific role to have a very general career discussion. Usually people are happy to be courted and to join our network even if they’re not ready to move until the right opportunity comes along. This ‘hidden market’ has proven to be very valuable, since the focus is on the candidate.

We’ve also found quite a few people through Procurious, both inside and outside Australia. So be sure to log onto Procurious and connect with me! One of the exciting trends we’re starting to see is more and more people making a conscious choice to come into procurement from other professions, such as finance and law. Procurement functions can always use these diverse skill-sets.

What are the challenges in Australian procurement recruitment?

There’s a huge amount of change going on amongst our client companies. Restructuring and redundancies take place all the time, which means we have to keep on top of what’s happening in a fast-changing environment. Another challenge is that Australia is a relatively small market, which is why it’s important for procurement professionals to know the right people and reach out to organisations like The Source.

What sort of salary levels do you recruit for?

Personally, I mostly look after the mid-level space, which could range from $80,000 to $130,000 (AUD), but The Source team works collaboratively across all salary levels. And of course there’s the international recruitment angle too. UK professionals are in high demand in Australia, along with candidates from China and Singapore.

Can you share some tips for creating a winning resume?

Don’t just describe your role when you write your resume. Make sure you keep track of your achievements, and back up your claims with hard figures. Procurement employers like to see proof. For example, if you’ve achieved some excellent cost savings, make sure you include the dollar figure or percentage.

Start with a succinct personal introduction explaining your background, key strengths, and what makes you stand out for the role. You’ll never be shortlisted if you don’t communicate your strengths.

Frequently changing roles can indicate a lack of commitment, so try to stay in a business for a minimum of three years. Of course, sometimes it’s out of your control. If you are made redundant, don’t be afraid to put it in your resume – recruiters and employers won’t penalise you for redundancies because they’re so common.

Can you share some interview tips?

Make sure you’re well-presented. Read up about the organisation and find out about the people who will be interviewing you on LinkedIn. It’s important not to over-prepare and create a “script”, because it comes across as fake.

Remember to back everything up with examples. Think about the key competencies you’ll be asked about, and be prepared to talk about how you’ve demonstrated these in the past. You need to be able to explain what you do.

Do you have any stories of disastrous interviews?

We had a candidate who was asked to give an example of how she can balance priorities. Unfortunately, the example she gave was how she was juggling three boyfriends at once!

Another candidate took the advice to provide clear “evidence” of her achievements much too literally, and turned up at the interview with an enormous stack of printed-out reports and emails. She’d rummage through the pile to find evidence whenever she was asked a question.

Did either of them win the role?

Unfortunately for them, no!

What’s your advice for graduates considering procurement as a career?

Procurement is a good career. It’s growing fast, with heaps of opportunity to add significant value to a company. It’s a really diverse job. From the analytical side of things, to the sourcing experts, stakeholder relationship management experts, risk gurus – there are so many aspects to being a procurement professional.

The Source - Sanne GruterThanks Sanne, and all the very best for an exciting career in procurement recruitment at The Source!

 

 

The Source is a boutique mid to senior and executive recruitment and search consultancy with national reach specialising in the procurement market. For more details, visit The Source.