Procurement must shake off 'victim mentality' to attract talent

7 March 2013
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7 March 2013 | Anna Reynolds

The procurement profession must develop a more compelling definition of its role and show it influences strategy to attract talent, according to the CPO of AstraZeneca.

Speaking at the Procurement Talent conference in London yesterday, Ashley Readshaw said there is a “mixed understanding” of the profession and procurement has yet to define itself as clearly as functions such as engineering or finance.

“Procurement has a victim mentality – it is not seen as a stimulating career for talent,” he said. “There is a lack of articulation from companies of how procurement leads to business success.”

He added recruits now want more from their employers. AstraZeneca’s market research found procurement professionals want to be involved in strategic development, be valued by the business, have international opportunities and a clear career path.

He said the pharmaceuticals company, which has 450 people working in procurement, looks for “people who can shape its business agenda and manage suppliers in a good way”. Readshaw said the company finds recruiting procurement staff is fairly easy in the UK and US but trying to diversify to China and India is more difficult. He said a talented individual needs to demonstrate they have better knowledge of a business’ supply base than the line manager or budget holder.

Klaids Lafon De Ribeyrolles, executive vice president, purchasing strategy at Rolls-Royce said his business looks for financial, project management and relationship building skills when recruiting. He said the two options when looking for procurement staff is to steal from competitors or attract internal candidates.

“At the moment it is not attractive for other functions to move into purchasing and procurement. It needs rebranding and this is something we are tackling,” he said.

He added there would be a natural attraction to purchasing from other functions if they can see how it drives value and creates competitive advantage.

Readshaw, who has now been CPO at AstraZeneca for two years, said the main reason he took the job was because: “Being a CPO means you have a key part in driving your companies’ competitive advantage.”

He also recommended that companies’ ensure procurement teams get out to meet suppliers, rather than sitting at desks to build stronger relationships.

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