Competition intense for top procurement talent

Rebecca Ellinor Tyler is former editor of Supply Management
7 October 2014

There are more jobs in procurement and supply chain than candidates looking for new roles, according to recruitment company Reed.

That means you need to ensure your organisation stands out, said business development director Lee Gudgeon, speaking at the CIPS Annual Conference in London.

Gudgeon said you also need to consistently get your brand messages across, since the majority of people need to hear the same information three to five times to believe it. He said companies that lack mobile-friendly versions of their websites or video clips about a career with them were missing a trick.

Also on the panel of experts in the ‘talent spotter’ session at the event was Jim Carter, head of procurement at infrastructure company Network Rail, who last year won the title of CIPS Procurement and Supply Chain Management Professional of the Year.

He agreed organisations need to be attractive to work for and said Network Rail has spacious modern offices with gym and café facilities that house 4,000 staff. In addition to the environment, Carter said it helps that his function has automated the vast majority of transactional work and has exciting, large-scale projects it can assign to its top talent to keep them interested and challenged.

He advised delegates of the need to have programmes in place to manage staff - to develop and assess them and use them to the best of their ability. "If you don't manage your talent effectively, you will lose it and it will leave you with a gap." Carter said among a wide-ranging number of measures he's undertaken are introducing frameworks to judge the technical and behavioural competency of employees and the hiring of some individuals from outside the profession.

Finally, he said, don't be afraid to lose people. "You're bringing people in but it's okay if they move on. They will help raise the profile of the profession elsewhere and it's a small, world - they may well come back with new experience."

Owen Standen, senior vice president of professional services procurement at Citi, was also on the panel. He has already achieved a lot of success in his career and last month picked up the gong for the CIPS Young Procurement and Supply Chain Management Professional of the Year at the CIPS Supply Management Awards.

He advised delegates to have a development plan; make the most of current opportunities; identify successes and build a personal brand. He suggested goals shouldn’t just be long-term but those that could be achieved more immediately too and recommended professionals consider what gaps they have and try to fill them. Standen contended that small opportunities were arguably more important than the big ones and told delegates to “keep continuously learning”.

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