24 March 2006 | Rebecca Ellinor
Buyers should aim to be "business heavyweights not just purchasing flyweights" CIPS president Jane Gibbs told peers at the institute's annual dinner in London last night.
Walking onto stage to the sound of Prodigy's "Firestarter" Gibbs told the hundreds gathered at the 67th annual event: "People don't always change because they see the light but because they feel the heat - as an institute need to continue to change and challenge."
She said while there were many things to be proud of buyers needed to "raise the bar".
"Purchasing is now a distinct function in the majority of listed companies. City analysts think organisations with a formal approach to purchasing and supply chain are better at managing risks. But there's another view that says perhaps we're in danger of becoming the purchasing equivalent of 'couch potatoes'."
Gibbs challenged the audience to think of a new supply chain theory or concept from academia that's been put into practice. She questioned the number of purchasing people that have become chief executives and asked how often purchasers are involved at start of a debate about outsourcing major services in an organisation.
"Are we in danger of staying so specialist that we're left out of the boardroom?" she asked.
She urged peers to consider these questions and take action to ensure they are seen as "serious players".
Gibbs, only the second female president of CIPS, added she was glad to see more people at this year's dinner than when it was first held in 1939 "when apparently there were 64 men".
She said that with more than 40,000 members from over 120 countries, CIPS is the largest purchasing institute in the world.
"It took us 60 years to get to 20,000 members, but in the last 10 years, membership has doubled," she said.
Of those members, she said, the youngest is 17 and lives in Zambia and the oldest is 94 and lives in Glasgow. More than 80 per cent of members have registered on the website and an average of 1,800 people visit it each day.
"All this helps to demonstrate how far we have come, both as an institute and as a profession as a whole."