Making a noise for procurement in schools and beyond


Susan Randal, purchasing specialist at Silva Strategies and CIPS Birmingham branch chair4 September 2014 | Susan Randall

Summer is a mixed blessing isn’t it? Sun, sea and sand – but also sunburn, midges and exam results.

My recent associations with summer, which included Cornwall, canoeing and cream teas, have also been the trials and tribulations of helping my children through disappointing AS levels, finding a new direction, university clearing and rapidly making new, seemingly life-changing choices.

It is not just the planning that is required to successfully manage these changing situations but the need to keep confidence and determination high in the midst of the emotional fallout. Those of you who have been through this will understand what I am talking about. Students and parents all over the country are being delighted and disappointed by turns.

In my role as a CIPS Birmingham branch chair, I have been involved in the CIPS Generation Y initiative to raise awareness in schools of procurement as a career choice. The success of this resulted in the ‘Be a Buyer’ campaign with its excellent promotional materials and website which Birmingham branch have used to great effect at local careers fairs.

It is clear from my classroom sessions that finance, marketing and IT are the things students think of as careers rather than procurement. However, their eyes are opened by the end of the session and I am hoping we get a crop of buyers coming through from Birmingham schools over the next five years. Procurement is a great career and it is easy to be enthusiastic and persuasive about its attractions.

Many of the students I have worked with on the CIPS Negotiation Challenge at the Peter Jones Academies are not looking for a career in a large company but want to be entrepreneurs of their own businesses. Here the message is less about being a buyer and more about the power of negotiation, persuasion and good business ethics in any commercial deal.

Even after career choices, career mentoring is vitally important to achieving an individuals’ full potential. There is a new opportunity to develop aspiring professionals with the Fellows of the Future event where a CIPS Fellow can bring a potential future Fellow along to show how their career can progress.

So the learning journey from GCSEs to Fellow never ends and the more help, guidance and support we can get from each other and our professional Institute the better.

☛ Susan Randal is purchasing specialist at Silva Strategies and CIPS Birmingham branch chair

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