Businesses need your steadying hand – and people skills

posted by Gerry Walsh
4 May 2018

A pay rise beyond the UK average shows the confidence in procurement to deliver much of what organisations need in coming months, says interim CEO Gerry Walsh

Procurement is facing a new world order, where protectionism, tariffs and new Brexit challenges await us. Our research found that one in seven EU businesses with UK suppliers have already moved parts of their business out of the UK as a result of Brexit, and the direction of travel is full of unexpected twists and turns.

Businesses and organisations will need a steady hand to negotiate their way through all this, and it is a perfect time to have the support of trained, qualified professionals with strategic skills, data management and a steadying disposition to deal with the issues faced by their organisations.

Unsurprisingly, this year’s CIPS/Hays salary survey has again found that these talented individuals are increasingly in demand by CPOs. While chief executives and boards must still fully learn the value that a capable procurement team can bring, this new world order shines a spotlight on procurement’s worth during this remarkable time in the UK’s history.

Many CPOs I speak to are struggling to secure good talent, but it is often soft skills that are missing from their talent portfolio, and not procurement and supply chain knowledge. Sector knowledge is always useful, but both sector and procurement knowledge can be learned, so I would urge employers to seek individuals with a fresh perspective and the ability to think outside of the box.

Even better than last year

And for their talent and expertise, those smart professionals are being rewarded. The survey found that 68% of procurement professionals received a salary rise (4% more than the previous year), and the average salary rise was 5.1%, which is more than twice the national average of 2.2%.

And, it’s no surprise again that MCIPS professionals received 12% more in salary than non-CIPS, and Fellows received 11% more. The value of CIPS membership is there in black and white for all to see. But reaching your next accreditation is not the end – continuing professional development should remain high on everyone’s agenda, to always improve and find the next level of achievement.

I hope that this year our professionals will read more and do more to up their game and increase their usefulness so boards and CEOs also sit up and take note of how fundamental good procurement is to their business.

For the first time since our salary reporting began, there has been a fall in the number of employers (60%) looking for new procurement staff in the last 12 months, 10% less than last year and 4% down from 2016. This could be the consequence of searching for exceptional talent rather than volume, for experience as opposed to expedience. Taking time to look for the right team will always pay off in the long run and those interesting, varied and rewarding roles are still out there.

Gender gap widens

One regrettable survey find is that the gender gap in our profession is widening. Though there are so many instances of this in other sectors, I’m disappointed that procurement is not leading the way and bucking the trend. Last year’s marginal improvement closed the gap a little but this trend has now reversed.

Raising the profile of women professionals and supporting gender diversity has been a focus for CIPS in the last year with our Women in Procurement event and the recognition of high achievers. I hope these small steps will contribute to a change for the better in next year’s results as we do more to support gender diversity.

I would urge you to look through the report in detail to understand what it means for you. There is no other report on this scale that gives insight into the profession across geographical regions, gender, sectors and company size. This is not just about pay and bonuses but the impact of CIPS membership, how procurement can fight against issues of our day such as modern slavery – and the opportunities for great work and how to make an impact.

Supply Management feature: are you being paid enough?

Read the CIPS/Hays Salary Survey in full.

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