Cliffe: "Being comfortable with not knowing everything unlocks a world of open-minded solutions" ©PSpinney
Cliffe: "Being comfortable with not knowing everything unlocks a world of open-minded solutions" ©PSpinney

This is who I am: Chris Cliffe

7 September 2018

Chris Cliffe FCIPS MIoD is director of of his own management consultancy CJC Procurement.

How did you get into procurement?

I started as a graduate business analyst in the civil service with OGCbuying.solutions (now Crown Commercial Service). My big break came when I led the procurement for a £6bn framework agreement for IT. The learning curve was formative, not least through successfully defending a legal challenge.

What made you start your own business?

When I found myself on the wrong side of a merger between two large housing associations, I took the opportunity to provide my own personal brand of procurement consultancy support to clients.

What have you learned by working for yourself?

There are opportunities that I didn’t see or value as an employee. I had to get over my networking fear, which is essential. I wasn’t proactive enough as an employee, now I attend every networking event I can. 

What is the best piece of advice you have received?

My first procurement boss said: “Rule number one, never b*llsh*t!” Being comfortable with not knowing everything unlocks a world of open-minded conversations and connections. 

What advice would you give to junior professionals?

Learn your trade, become MCIPS, then Chartered, and don’t stop learning and growing. Stay open-minded and hungry, and help people along the way.

The future of procurement is…

… hanging in the balance. Transactional purchasing will be automated. Procurement professionals will need to grow ranks as demand outstrips supply.

What are you most proud of professionally?

Gaining CIPS Fellowship after an incredible 12-month journey from redundancy to consultancy; mentoring a new entrant from junior finance administrator through MCIPS in three years; and being awarded ‘highly commended’ in the New Director category by the Institute of Directors (East of England) this year. 

How do you relax in your free time?

I try to spend as much time as possible with family and friends. My son loves going to the zoo.

What is at the top of your bucket list? 

To get my pilot’s licence. I had a year at British Airways as part of my degree, but 9/11 changed the industry. I’ve still got unfinished business there.

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