30 October 2009 | Allie Anderson
Big personality, a good news story and proof of a contribution to revenue generation are the best ways to get buyers into the boardroom.
That's the view of purchasers speaking to SM
about a survey that found most procurement departments still lack a place on the executive board. According to Paul Baigent, group purchasing director at pipe manufacturer Aliaxis UK, most organisations generate 60 per cent of their turnover from purchasing.
"That in itself dictates there should be representation at board level."
For Neil Arnott, head of supply chain at Kwik Fit, board representation is "nice to have rather than essential" for the buying function, particularly at smaller firms. "Having a big board of directors is a luxury for SMEs, and procurement hasn't necessarily got anything to offer every week. But when they've got something to say, there shouldn't be any barriers."
Last month, a Hays Procurement survey revealed 64 per cent of purchasing departments were without personnel in the boardroom.
"Procurement is still a relatively new discipline compared to others at board level," explained managing director Pat Law.
However, Craig Cherry, head of procurement at Monarch Airlines, told SM this statistic is positive news for the profession. He said the same survey two years ago would have found even more without representation at the top.
He added: "It's not just about being good at the job. You've also got to have a personality and something about you, and those people are being invited into the boardroom and asked the big questions. For the grey suits [in procurement], the struggle is still on."