Technology is changing requirements but storytelling skills are still needed © Luis Alvarez/Getty Images
Technology is changing requirements but storytelling skills are still needed © Luis Alvarez/Getty Images

The skills buyers need for digital transformation

28 April 2021

Procurement skills are changing as technology is implemented but soft skills should not be overlooked, according to the purchasing boss at Santander. 

Nick Jenkinson, CPO at Santander UK, said while there will be a requirement for new skills within procurement, such as the ability to drive real insights from data, the importance of soft skills such as curiosity and storytelling should not be underestimated. 

“Really it will come down to the soft skills because the reality is, the technology is there as an enabler. What the last 14 months has proved to us all is time is a very important asset and we've all developed more time,” he said. 

“How people will use that additional time to drive real business change, that's where you really need the soft skills to be curious about what else you could deliver, to go and tell that story, go sell into the business and then really drive that change.

“You can train hard skills and you can train technical skills but soft skills are a lot more difficult to train. You can evolve people but I don't think you can fundamentally change people's personalities and therefore, it's all about how you bring in the people with the right mindset.”

Speaking at the CIPS Supply Management Forum, he said he did not agree with comments about a lack of talent in procurement.

“From a leadership perspective, my role is all about how you're positioning the team within the organisation and are you creating the right enablers and the right infrastructure for them to be successful. Often we put that down to a lack of talent, but actually, probably as a CPO, we should look in a mirror a bit more often in terms of where the real talent issues are,” he said.

During a panel discussion on the impact of digital on attracting talent, David Medori, CPO at William Hill, said if organisations did not invest in training when digitising, skills gaps “are just going to get wider”. 

“There needs to be time invested, certainly in education and in training development. We do a lot of what we call ‘micro learning’. So bite-sized, educational bits that are quite short, and we do a lot in our organisation because we have lots of regulation that we need to follow.” 

Medori added having the right people with good teamwork, courage and emotional intelligence, that can “work hand in hand with the business and the technology is key”.

“It's the people that can really affect the right change that organisations are looking for as they go onto digital transformations. The best talent doesn't guarantee success but certainly a lack of it guarantees failure,” he added.

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