Procurement must “move with the times” and align its values with those of new generations entering the profession, a conference was told.
Alice Bray, senior procurement advisor – sustainable procurement at Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency, told delegates at the CIPS Global Conference procurement should be looking to provide a culture and values that align with young people.
“In the New Zealand public sector, you see curiosity, storyteller, motivator, connector in job descriptions and I think it's a really positive thing. We're in a more connected world, which means we're communicating more, but across lots of different mediums. It's really important that we tap into the fact that we're bringing in a generation of people that are really strong communicators and we really foster and nurture that.”
Organisations must also be exploring how flexible working can be incorporated as young employees seek a better work life balance, Bray added.
“We need to be really honest with ourselves as a sector – times have changed. The 40-hour working week and grind culture is just being really questioned by young people because it's not healthy. They've seen generations, possibly their parents, be highly stressed, highly anxious and undergo burnout and they don't want that.
“We should be tapping into that, because people are getting more out of that kind of rhythm. Procurement would really be on the back foot if we continue to think about work, productivity and workspaces and don't move with the times.”
Also speaking as part of a panel, Cael Sendell-Price, head of strategic procurement at Buckinghamshire Council, said more visibility of the profession is crucial to encouraging young people into the function.
“More engagements earlier on help to explain more of the benefits and the breadth of procurement and what it encompasses and covers,” he said.
Sendell-Price said procurement is such a “transformational role” with its hand in many different areas of the business, often with extremely varied projects and contracts at any one time.
He added: “It helps to show the new generations the variability of contracts and opportunities. I'm very lucky to have worked on varied and different projects for anything from adult social care, to children's services to highways waste.
“This helped build my portfolio of projects across a range of different areas and I think specifically I would enjoy showcasing the sort of projects that I've dealt with.”
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