Watch and learn

10 April 2012
David Noble, chief executive, Chartered Institute of Purchasing & SupplyWhen people ask 
you what you do for a living, do you find it easy to explain procurement and supply in such a way that they immediately ‘get it’? If not, one of the things you could do is suggest they watch a bit more TV. There are a couple of popular programmes that can help non-procurement people understand what we do. The first of these is Four Rooms, where members of the public try to sell something they believe is valuable to four of the country’s leading dealers. It’s all about negotiation and understanding market value. The sellers have to persuade the dealers that items, such as the chair JK Rowling sat on to write the Harry Potter books, are good investments. The dealers want to get the goods at the right price and will bring to bear their knowledge of the market and supply. Many of their tips on successful buying and negotiation resonate, such as researching your market and knowing what you’re buying. And the other programme you might like to recommend? None other than The Apprentice. In a recent programme, the would-be entrepreneurs had to buy unbranded products, brand them and then sell them on. This was not just about getting the goods at the right price, but about managing the overall cost to deliver a respectable margin while delivering a quality product. One of the teams compromised on quality to save on cost and had many returns. The other team did its homework, but placed too much emphasis on quality and got its costings wrong. Lord Sugar was unimpressed. These programmes make great introductions to procurement and supply and this is what we’re aiming to emulate with our own Negotiation Challenge for schools. We will be running a negotiating competition through the Peter Jones (of Dragons’ Den fame) enterprise academies across the UK. The aim is to build an awareness of procurement and supply as a career choice as well as developing negotiation skills for 16-19 year olds. After a knockout round, the final will be held at Aston Martin where the qualifying teams will go head-to-head in a challenge to find the champion negotiators. This is just one of our Generation Y initiatives that we will be kick-starting this year as part of our on-going campaign to nurture 
a new generation 
of procurement professionals. ☛ In the last issue, an old address for the Inspiring the Future website was published. 
The correct one is ☛ If you have any comments or wish to raise a topic, please get in touch at
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