Battle for the boardroom

28 March 2007
With the return of The Apprentice to UK screens tonight, along with the Supply Management-featured Sir Alan Sugar, it seemed appropriate to comment on purchasing's struggle to earn that seat at the top table. Last week GM, Nissan and Renault all promoted buyers to senior management positions, so is purchasing finally getting the recognition it desires? Research SM is currently carrying out among FTSE companies suggests not. In fact, it is possible to count the number of purchasing board members on one hand (perhaps two, if you extend it to include supply chain). But it's not just purchasing who wants the recognition. One HR consultant recently told SM that it wasn't just purchasing, but HR, marketing, IT, and practically every other company function fighting it out for the same seat. Which might make you wonder where are all the board members coming from in the first place? Surely they're not all from finance or sales backgrounds? But it seems purchasers might have missed another opportunity to raise their profile. Not one of the contestants on the new series of The Apprentice hails from a buying background (although there was a Supply Chain Director on the US version - she didn't win). Surely there was a place for a buyer among the sales manager, quantam physicist, business development manager, and global brand consultant (?). Especially as Sir Alan considers buying to be "third most important aspect of business".
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