Improve purchasing's image to attract staff

5 November 2010

5 November 2010 | Lindsay Clark

Procurement should promote its image in the business and externally to attract the best staff.

Speaking from the Procurecon 2010 conference in Brussels this week, Giuseppe Conti, procurement director, services, at international pharmaceuticals firm Merck Serono, said:

“Upgrading the image of your procurement department is one area of opportunity. If you work for Google, L’Oreal or Apple then, probably, you do not need to work that much on the brand image of your department – people will just apply because they love the company. It’s a bit more difficult if you work for a less well-known organisation.”

Procurement heads could improve the external image of their department by writing articles in trade magazines, appearing at conferences or talking at business schools, said Conti. “You have to make yourself more visible to the external world, so when potential talent Googles you, they can see that [your] company brings some value to them.”

Despite the increased importance of procurement teams as a result of globalisation and trends such as corporate responsibility, the function still has difficulty competing for the top talent against finance and marketing, said Conti. This is particularly because they’re all looking for softer interpersonal skills, he added.

“We are doing well compared to IT and HR, but we are not yet perceived as the function to be. Branding our function and making sure that people understand more about what we do and how rich and broad the work can be – that’s part of the challenge in years to come,” said Conti, who also teaches negotiation skills at the London Business School and Said Business School at the University of Oxford.

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