Senior Category Officer

National: £35,895 - £40,613 London: £38,751 - £43,847
04 Mar 2021
04 Apr 2021
Specialist Area
Contract Type
Full Time
CIPS Membership
CIPS member, Non CIPS member

About Defra

Defra is the UK Government department responsible for safeguarding our natural environment, supporting our world-leading food and farming industry, and sustaining a thriving rural economy.

Defra comprises of the Core Department, Environment Agency, Food Standards Agency, Rural Payments Agency, Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science, Forestry Commission, Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency, Natural England and Veterinary Medicines Directorate to name a few.

Their broad remit means they play a major role in people's day-to-day life, from the food we eat, the air we breathe, and the water we drink.


Why Join Defra?

This is a particularly exciting time to join the Defra group. They are leading on much of the government’s work to protect the public such as flood defence, enhancing science capability, improvement of the environment and aiding in a successful transition from the EU.

Defra group Commercial have also been instrumental and helping the Government to respond to COVID by setting up contracts for “food boxes” for the vulnerable. 

You will have the opportunity to contribute towards and influence the development of new approaches and policies on a wide range of issues affecting millions of people in the UK.


What You Will Be Doing:

  • Leading the award and monitoring high value (£ multi-million), high risk contracts in accordance with Defra’s commercial policies and procedures, whilst applying the full Commercial DNA.
  • Support the management and development of key supplier relationships to deliver exceptional performance in cost, service, and quality.
  • Provide day to day advice on commercial issues and governance across the relevant category, taking full account of risk, manage propriety and exploit commercial opportunities driving value of money and savings.
  • The role will may involve the opportunity to lead individuals or a small team of other commercial professionals.
  • You will develop and maintain positive relationships with a broad range of internal and external stakeholders and encourage collaborative relationships as appropriate.
  • Accountable for the use of Commercial and contract management IT systems and applications, and approval of the work of others who are using these.

Benefits of the Role:

  • Flexible Working- Variations in your hours from day to day, suiting your needs, and where this is compatible with business needs.
  • An amazing Pension Scheme- Defra will make an employer contribution of between 26.6% and 27.9% dependent on your pensionable salary.
  • Volunteering  Each year you will be entitled to three 3 days special leave with pay to volunteer.
  • Staff  Bonuses and Recognitions- Staff Recognition Scheme, and in-year awards to reward exemplary work.
  • Growth and Development- Civil Servants are encouraged to have a minimum of five days of learning and development each year.  You will also have access to Government Commercial College resources.
  • Mentoring and Coaching: You will have the opportunity to voluntarily engage and work confidentially with a mentor or coach
  • Immense  job satisfaction – This role will make a genuine positive impact of your community.  Plus the team are very supportive and friendly.


Required Skills and Experience

Experience – Essential

  • Leading and implementing large scale (£ multi-million) procurements projects through the end-to-end lifecycle – design (strategy and market engagement), procure and contract award.
  • Builds relationships and has experience of influencing senior internal and external stakeholders in a commercial environment for medium/high risk contracts at an operational level.
  • An accomplished Commercial professional with a track record of setting high standards and delivering results in a complex and demanding environment.
  • Procurement strategy development and use of procurement tools to identify business needs, analyse markets, identify and manage commercial risks, evaluate procurement routes, develop pricing strategies and robust contracts.
  • Experience of leading strategic contract award negotiations and resolving dispute resolutions through negotiation.
  • Working with senior stakeholders and suppliers in a commercial environment and being able to influence and constructively challenge when necessary.
  • Making effective decisions from analysing financial and non-financial information and identifying key risks and opportunities, developing options and then making recommendations to senior colleagues.
  • Identifying opportunities for efficiency gains and sustainability benefits and delivering significant savings.
  • Communicating confidently and concisely. Effectively communicating with a wide range of stakeholders (at all levels) both in a technical and non-technical environment.
  • Delivering improvements to ways of working and embedding change.

Experience – Desirable

  • Management  & leadership of staff and ideally a small team (5+)
  • Knowledge of Public Procurement Regulations (PCR 2015)
  • Knowledge or experience of NEC/JCT/PSC suite of contracts and contract development
  • Knowledge of the category and advantage but not essential if demonstrating transferable skills
  • Grants roles - knowledge or experience of Government Functional Standards and best practice grants tools.

Technical – Essential

  • Knowledge of commercial related legislation, procurement policy, processes and documentation to deliver successful contracts and frameworks.
  • Knowledge of procurement tools.
  • Proficient in the use of Excel, Data analysis, collation, cleansing and presentation and reporting.
  • Expert in the use of E-sourcing tools and a good awareness of procure to pay systems.
  • Awareness and application of KPI's, service credits, incentivisation and managing poor supplier performance.
  • Organised and logical approach to dealing with problems, setting clear actions and roles & responsibilities.
  • Chairs meetings, capturing notes and actions and actively monitoring progress.

Technical – Desirable

  • Qualified to MCIPS or working towards MCIPS, IACCM/GCF Contract Management (Foundation or Practitioner level) would be beneficial. 
  • Other academic or professional qualifications, such as degree or Prince2.  Lean or RICS qualifications would be of significant interest as well for the Infrastructure, SCAH and Buildings team. 
  • Those that have yet to achieve one of more of the above qualifications will be expected to work to achieve these through structured development plans.
  • Alternatively you can demonstrate at least 2-5 years’ experience in providing commercial support to (£ multi-million) contracting activity and engaged in activity across the commercial life cycle i.e. market/supplier engagement, procurement strategies, tendering and contract management.

The behaviours that will be tested at interview:

•            Making effective decisions

•            Working together

•            Leadership

•            Changing and improving 

•            Communicating and influencing- This is the lead behaviour at the first interview stage. 


Guaranteed Interview Scheme for Disabled Persons

Disabled applicants who meet the essential criteria in the job specification are guaranteed an interview. Selection will be on merit. If you wish to claim a guaranteed interview under the Disability Commitment, you should complete the Equality and Diversity section that forms part of the advert. (Annex C). It is not necessary to state the nature of your disability.

Equal Opportunities

Defra values equality and diversity in employment. We are committed to being an organisation in which fairness and equality of opportunity is central to the approach in business and working relationships and where the organisational culture reflects and supports these values. In Defra you have the right to a working environment free from discrimination, harassment, bullying and victimisation regardless of race, ethnic or national origin, age, religion, sex, gender identity, marital status, disability, sexual orientation, working hours, trade union membership or trade union activity.

Civil Service Commission’s Recruitment Principles

Selection for appointment to the Civil Service is on merit, on the basis of fair and open competition, as outlined in the Civil Service Commission’s Recruitment Principles. The Civil Service Commission has two primary functions:

Providing assurance that selection for appointment to the Civil Service is on merit on the basis of fair and open competition. 

Hearing and determining appeals made by Civil Servants under the Civil Service Code which sets out the Civil Service values – Honesty, Integrity, Impartiality and Objectivity.

More detailed information can be found at the Civil Service Commission website