Supply chain professionals often underestimate their worth to the business and their ability to compete with others outside purchasing.
This is no surprise as major preoccupations are lack of stakeholder engagement and budget influence. Add to that people’s tendency to ‘fall’ into procurement and it is no wonder we misjudge our unique skills offering. This is holding us back as a profession and in reaching for that top CEO position.
Recently I approached the business with a different agenda. Not to sell my department’s offering, but my own. I asked if they would consider giving me a job having only ever worked in procurement and suggested skills I might bring. The response was very promising:
- Project and programme management are key skills in any business area. The basics of the procurement cycle can be applied to any project type.
- Skilled vendor management is valued as the majority of business deliverables have some dependency on suppliers and few outside procurement have received proper training in this.
- Contract knowledge is something most areas are heavily reliant on legal for, so having someone on hand is viewed as a big advantage.
- The commercialism, business acumen and strategic awareness that buyers innately develop are our true competitive edge. What other department’s workforce gains such an overview of the company’s plans and frequently has the opportunity to influence senior stakeholders unless they are senior managers?
It is time to recognise the expertise we bring to the table. Supply chain management should be perceived as an important stepping stone in developing the skills and knowledge to join that elite management layer. Other professions cannot be expected to openly appreciate our worth until we do.
Procurement professionals need to spread their influence far and wide both in terms of their role in procurement and by taking their skill base with them to other roles. We shouldn’t be afraid of losing our top stars to other departments, but rather embrace the positive effects this will have over the longer term.
The new job? It’s going great thanks, and I certainly hope to come back to procurement again one day.
☛ Amanda Earnshaw, vice-president, cash management core processing at