A view to a skill

11 June 2013
Rebecca Ellinor, managing editor, Supply ManagementWherever you are in the world, procurement chiefs, it seems, share the same concerns: do they have the right mix of talent in their team and if not, where can they find it? At this year’s ISM annual conference in the US, CPOs made the point that technical experience should be taken for granted. Purchasers, they said, must focus on persistence and resilience in the face of change, intellectual curiosity and motivational skills. More than 6,000 miles away in Ghana, Babs Omotowa, managing director and chief executive officer of Nigeria LNG, said wider skills are essential. He urged buyers to develop broad knowledge, encompassing subjects such as science and politics.

And in our cover interview with ITV’s CPO Andrew Newnham, he says he actively seeks those with influencing and relationship-building skills. “When you look at CVs, everybody’s taken 15 per cent out, but have they sat in the room while the IT director’s done it or have they done it? Are they managing the stakeholders to actually make a difference themselves?”

In the Middle East, Paula Gildert, CIPS president and head of development strategic sourcing at Novartis, told an audience at the CIPS conference in Dubai: “When I am recruiting I always look for attitude. You can train for skill, but if they have the wrong attitude, you are lost.” And Abdulwahab Almadani, senior manager, supply chain at Dubai Aluminium, told delegates: “No matter how good you are, how good your systems are, how aligned you are, if you don’t have the right capability in the team you have difficulty developing sustainable procurement.” I’d argue you have difficulty doing very much at all. One way to develop the necessary capabilities is to train individuals from the ground up, which is precisely the approach in Scotland. Nikki Bell, head of procurement policy and strategy at the Scottish Government, says the approach is to invest now in future talent and urges the profession to help market this excellent transferable skill set. ☛ Bookings for this year’s CIPS Annual Conference are now being taken at www.cipsannualconference.com
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