It’s time to show your passion for procurement

David Noble, Group CEO, Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply
25 November 2016

There are challenges ahead for us all and CEOs need procurement professionals to articulate and demonstrate their value, says CIPS CEO David Noble.

It’s been a momentous year, with not one but two unexpected voting results. As well as stirring up some likely challenges for international trade, citizens across the developed world are now anticipating a future where some assumed certainties of the past few years can no longer be taken for granted. Their reactions and responses will undoubtedly double back and have an effect on trade.

Businesses are going to need a steady hand to negotiate the changes and the skills honed by procurement professionals will be in great demand.

Unsurprising then that, fewer than four months after the Brexit decision and just ahead of the US election, the Mountbatten room at Westminster’s QEII Conference Centre was packed with delegates wanting to hear CIPS economist John Glen’s take on what it could all mean for procurement and business.

His take-home message? Your job is ever more important, you must do what good procurement professionals do – take tactical and strategic decisions, and prepare for change.

While we already know the benefits good procurement and supply functions can offer charities, public bodies and businesses, it is to boards that the focus must now fall. Not all CEOs are aware of the expertise you employ and failure to alert them to it is to help them to fail.

As Dr Clive Rees, Fujitsu’s CPO for the Americas and EMEIA, said at the conference: “Be a business person in procurement, not a procurement person in the business.” That’s when you can really start to unlock value and gain influence.

Procurement professionals must channel their expertise into translating the value of what they do into the language of senior leaders. We must champion those who have achieved a place on the board, hunt out chief execs who already understand procurement, and find ways and means to talk up the profession. Only then can we ensure that CEOs across the globe are getting the maximum value from their procurement teams.

One area organisations will need help with is managing risk. The latest CIPS Risk Index was recently released showing commitment to globalisation continues to slide and we have also just launched a good practice guide on Supply Chain Risk and Resilience (bit.ly/scriskandresilience) from which a standard will be produced next year.

Furthermore, CIPS has just embarked upon its next three-year strategy and in our new white paper, CIPS Supply Century – Defining our future profession (bit.ly/SupplyChainCentury) – we commit to playing our part in raising the profile of the profession and ensuring it remains relevant. We will continue to review our standards; work with other professional bodies globally to grow ease of access to the profession; we will train those from other disciplines; work with higher education organisations on top-up degrees; and we will continue to make the language of the profession more accessible. This white paper examines emerging changes in business and markets over the past year and looks to the years ahead – to when CIPS will be 100 in 2032. It is only the first iteration of this report, we want your comments and views to feed into research being done by Aston University to explore this changing landscape further.

I am hugely passionate about this profession and in the next year CIPS has a number of events planned where I will be speaking along with industry experts exploring these key issues.  Events are planned in January, March, June and October next year, look out for more information here bit.ly/CIPSevents.

If you’re not sure how to start in talking up your own achievements and what a great job the procurement and supply profession is, look no further than this issue’s cover feature which lists a dozen reasons why you make a difference.

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