Soft skills in demand for Middle East procurement roles

21 May 2013
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21 May 2013 | Paul Snell

Purchasers working in the Middle East and north Africa will have to boost their soft skills to remain competitive in the job market in the region, according to a panel of senior buyers.

Debating the issue at the CIPS Middle East Conference in Dubai on Sunday, Ahmad Al-Saleh, PE business director at EQUATE Petrochemical Company, said in the future companies in the region would not only be looking for the purchasers with the technical procurement skills, but a range of abilities.

“In reality, the people we acquire from the market are talents that don’t necessarily exhibit the technical skills, but exhibit the soft skills because what we see are the talents to be account managers and [to have] project management skills,” he told delegates. “Talent that has the character and stamina to manage supply networks, to be entrepreneurs and to bring some kind of innovation and different way of managing that supply management network.

“A lot of companies we deal with recognise EQUATE from the people we deal with, so I always consider procurement professionals are ambassadors of the company.”

This increased focus on stakeholder engagement was also raised by Wael Safwat, director of procurement and contracts at the American University of Sharjah. He said it would be a key strategic driver to manage these relationships, and finding the right mix between local knowledge and best practice would be vital.

According to Sam Achampong, principal category manager at MTN Dubai, organisations will be less reliant on external talent, as professionals in the region improve their competencies.

“You won’t have to reinvent the wheel by bringing people from other regions to carry out procurement roles because we have CIPS and other organisations teaching procurement skills. So I think one of the commodities that will be needed out here is Middle East experience.

“Employers will be saying: ‘Are you CIPS qualified? Do you have procurement experience? And do you have experience in this region?’ because a lot of requirements are specific.”

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