Procurement is a growing professional field with considerable opportunities in both the private and public sectors. The profession offers roles at all levels – from new graduates to mid-level managers to senior executives. Those with business experience who are seeking a mid-career change can upgrade their skills for the next step in their career development.
Exciting and challenging profession
A procurement professional works across disciplines and industries. It’s a dynamic role which requires a combination of interpersonal skills, analysis and decision-making abilities. Procurement professionals broker new ideas, negotiate major deals and manage critical risks. They control large sums of money and are at the heart of the organisation.
Typical positions include: procurement managers; contract managers; category managers; strategic sourcing managers; and chief procurement officers (CPOs). Within government, procurement professionals can contribute to economic, sustainable and social development, and achieve value for taxpayer dollars. They see real-world outcomes from their work.
Winner of the CIPS Australasia Young Procurement Professional Award in 2013, Brooke Fowles, explains how procurement can make a difference. “Procurement is a powerful lever to deliver on an organisation’s strategy, and the profession is world changing. Procurement policy can eliminate slavery, or the degradation of the natural environment, from a supply chain – and whether it’s eradicating polio, or delivering more effective disaster relief, procurement is going to play a key role in meeting future global challenges.”
Dynamic role driving the whole organisation
The global financial crisis has highlighted the importance of procurement professionals and their dynamic role in delivering value for money. Both business and government recognise how strategic procurement can influence outcomes and drive improvements across the whole organisation.
The 2013 Chief Procurement Officer Study by the IBM Institute of Business Value highlighted the impact that chief procurement officers can have on a company’s profitability. IBM’s study surveyed 1128 procurement executives in 22 countries across North America, Europe and Asia Pacific. It found that companies with top-performing procurement organisations reported profit margins of 15 per cent higher than the average company – and 22 per cent higher margins than companies with low-performing procurement organisations.
In the public sector, procurement has become a keystone in fiscal strategy. For example, both the Queensland and New South Wales Governments have focused on procurement policies as part of their reform agendas. With Australian governments’ annual expenditure on goods, services and construction estimated at $262 billion, a one per cent saving in procurement expenditure across all jurisdictions would result in an annual return of $2.6 billion.
“The work of a procurement professional can make an incredible difference to a government agency,” says Teresa Scott, Director of the Australasian Procurement and Construction Council.
Ms Scott explains that strategies – and savings – can be applied at all levels of procurement from buying copy paper to purchasing fuel for government vehicles to leasing office space. “Procurement professionals are creative individuals who can come up with bold alternatives to the status quo. Their ideas and strategic approaches can save millions in an agency’s budget and provide better value for taxpayers and communities.”
Pathway into the senior executive team
For those mid-level professionals looking to advance into the senior executive team, procurement offers an excellent pathway. Professional procurement executives are the business leaders of the future.
BRW magazine reported that after the global financial crisis, 70 per cent of Forbes’ top-rated companies had a chief procurement officer in their executive teams. It also noted that a number of CEOs had a background in procurement, including Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, and Sam Walsh, the Director of Rio Tinto. It is an exciting time to be part of a business discipline that has prominence at the corporate table.
Excellent job opportunities due to skills shortage
Research by the Australasian Procurement and Construction Council (APCC) indicates there is an unprecedented demand for highly capable procurement professionals in both the public and private sectors.
“Procurement is one of the fastest-growing professions in Australia,” says Ms Scott. “Governments are undertaking savings and efficiency agendas but there is a shortage of
procurement professionals with the skills to deliver the strategies for these agendas.”
Peak body support
Procurement is one of the fastest growing professions in Australasia. This growth in prominence has been driven by the APCC and the professional body for procurement, the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply Australasia (CIPS Australasia). Professionals of all experience levels can access tools and resources to aid their continued development throughout their career.
The APCC and CIPS Australasia have worked with a variety of universities to ensure that their programs address current and future procurement issues and trends. There are a number of accredited programs that CISP Australasia has with universities nationally which upon completion and evidence of relevant work experience enables graduates to achieve MCIPS. The MCIPS designatory letter is recognised worldwide as the global standard for top quality procurement professionals.
Fast-track to a procurement role
New jobseekers and mid-career business professionals can fast-track their careers into procurement through strategic procurement university programs. These programs develop the competencies needed for a strategic procurement role and can accelerate a career in leading large and complex procurement projects.
Throughout the world CIPS qualifications are recognised as driving leading edge thinking and professionalism in the profession. Each of our qualifications has been developed by working closely with our industry partners to make sure they reflect current, emerging and best practice in procurement and supply chain management.
CIPS offer both undergraduate and postgraduate courses. Accredited programs are available throughout Australia. These offer strategic procurement training that is portable, accessible, affordable and flexible.
Postgraduate studies offer the opportunity to accelerate commercial and technical competency and fast-track careers in procurement, utilising real-life and practical examples.
These qualifications can be used locally, nationally or internationally. The full list of programs is available on the CIPS Australasia website: www.cips.org/accredited_programs.
For more information on studying for a qualification in procurement, contact CIPS Australasia on firstname.lastname@example.org or +61 3 9629 6000.
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