Dream big and never stop learning if you want to get ahead in your profession.
Among the many challenges facing procurement professionals in the 21st century is the task of keeping pace with technology and staying relevant. The CIPS Switzerland branch tackled this issue head on by hosting the Accelerating Procurement Careers event in Zurich in January.
The days of the traditional pure buyer are over, says John Everett, the branch chair, explaining the timely need for a focus on this topic. Procurement professionals must complement their knowledge with a good grasp of innovation.
Design a pathway to achieve your goals, advised Almut Schäfer, CPO of insurance company AXA Versicherungen.
Schäfer outlined a simple framework on how to shine, including visualising yourself in five years time, setting clear and concise goals, and moving forward to accomplish your plan. She highlighted the importance of the “72-hour action window” during which you must act to avoid losing momentum or motivation.
Not only does personal leadership vision provide focus and integrate who you are in what you do, it also simplifies decision-making and holds you accountable to your decisions, she said.
Contingent workers and AI are the fastest growing workforce area, the audience was told, and AI is likely to become a category in the near future, said Oliver Matthes of recruitment company Hays. So building your experience with digitalisation and driving AI initiatives will give you an edge, he added. But don’t forget soft skills, which take precedence over hard skills for management and leadership roles, agreed Ugo Valenza of DSJ Global.
Professional development and lifelong learning were also considered essential by speakers at the event. John Byrne from Emea Recruitment added that in the current environment of constant disruption, candidates should have a track record that showcases their experience with innovation and performance delivery.
But there is no such thing as an ideal career path, said Malcolm Harrison, group CEO of CIPS: “You can’t forecast when opportunities will arrive but you can ensure you are a good candidate.”
Keep yourself relevant and connected, he said, by staying open to new projects and opportunities. Network with your professional community – not just the executives – and give back in the form of coaching, mentoring or volunteering programmes, to help others progress.
By staying up to date on topics, trends, techniques, maintaining a mix of skills at different levels, and being flexible and adaptable, you can equip yourself to face today’s challenges, he concluded.