Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply Article

This was created for print with the aim of persuading business/finance undergrads to consider a career in procurement. It was intended to be light, easy to read, informative and of course persuasive.

CIPS Article presenting the lures of a career in procurement, encouraging young people to take their first step on the ladder.

So here you are, however many years in to your business/finance degree and though you’re sure number crunching is the thing for you, you’re not quite sure where it all adds up career wise. You’re now straying away from your numerical comfort zone and delving in to the world of alphabetical business acronyms trying to find what’s on offer for you. CFOs, CDOs, CIOs… But the most interesting, is the CPO.

The risk of falling under the weight of success is constantly increasing with demand. With lower prices being offered and the sense of immediacy that our production speeds have guaranteed, the customer is expecting more from supply chains both in terms of efficiency and ethics. Enter the Chief Procurement Officer (CPO).

Supply Chains are becoming more important than ever, with industry behemoths being just as susceptible to the wrath of a logistical nightmare as a small company is. Though there is a solution – $30 billion annual spending conglomerate 3m uses the term ‘efficient growth’ to describe its engagement with its CPO and their resilient supply chain. They’re among a vast number of big businesses now incorporating procurement and supply chain management as a vital part of their strategy. This is where opportunities arise – Larger budgets (studies Hackett Group Key Issues Procurement 2016 found an average 3.3% increase in staffing and operation, in return for a predicted 3.7% increase in overall revenue) now being invested in procurement teams means there is a window of employment for young people. Don’t undervalue yourself as being an office-destined mind, juggling figures presented on a piece of paper in front of you in an accountancy role. Instead, jump on to the one of the fastest access routes to being a part of an Apple, Coca Cola, Nestle or H&M team, who all designate a significant amount of responsibility to their procurement staff. Let’s just say, free product is a minimal perk of working for such a company, compared to having their multimillion pound budget at your disposal.

Prepare yourself to be handed a satisfyingly large amount of responsibility that alternative, somewhat unglamorous roles don’t always provide. Being the one who pieces the chain together for their favourite brands is undoubtedly rewarding. Match this up with the average procurement salary now reaching £51,000 – similar to other roles, sure, yet this isn’t the whole story. The average salary for procurement has risen by £10,000 since 2015 and is continuing to do so. Not to mention the role having a far more dynamic working day than the others can provide.

Procurement professionals are always at the top of their game when it comes to relationship management and mutuality, mastering the art of negotiation. Their interpersonal skills are matched by their analytical prowess, observing proposals and reports to aid forecasting the impact of a price trend. If you believe you possess the foundations for these skills as well as having a strong understanding of the global market place, then an extremely powerful procurement role is for you. Not only does the role offer a highly desirable skillset, a number of opportunities are also offered very early on in the career path. Even at entry level, you’ll be introduced to senior stakeholders who you’ll then work with, meaning doors start to be opened almost immediately.

The procurement link in the chain grants exposure to every sector of the business, meaning diversity in day-to-day activity. From working alongside a marketing team to having millions of pounds in your trusted hands, procurement utilises skills that are transferrable to an enormous spectrum of roles. This is what makes it such an ideal prospect for those of you early on in your career – it isn’t restrictive. So if a few years down the line it turns out to not be the career you were after, what you have learned is still invaluable to other employment areas. Therefore it is easy to flex between jobs. However, saying this, many of those that join the procurement industry find themselves to be in such a rewarding role that they stick with it permanently. It’s understandable, as the role can often take them overseas, allow them to progress through their career and have an unending amount of achievements to pride themselves on.

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