How to make the procurement profession more attractive to other disciplines within your organisation.
Recently, I spoke to six Chief Procurement Officers on the issue of talent shortage and how procurement leaders can benefit from hiring candidates from other professions with transferrable skills, rather than focusing solely on career procurement professionals.
Firstly, it seems as if we have been trying to solve the same problem with the same solution for several years i.e., spending endless hours searching for sparse procurement management talent – outside of our organisations.
“Talent acquisition and retention is the most cited internal risk (four times higher than digital fragmentation). More than 70% of CPOs in our study had difficulty attracting talent over the past 12 months”.
I have regularly seen hiring managers recruit senior procurement professionals from different sectors, but much less so when it is a candidate’s first procurement role. This is where hiring managers may well be bypassing a rich pool of talented candidates with relevant, transferable skills.
Procurements core skills can be learned by professionals from other disciplines; however, it also requires a range of softer skills that are equally as important to make a successful transition.
These include communication, internal stakeholder management, influencing and leadership skills which are key to successfully making the transition.
The ability to attract people from outside the procurement profession, such as senior finance professionals can lead to increases in organisational efficiency and productivity due to their skills in accountancy, auditing and cashflow management.
IT people also have relevant, transferrable skills from analysing and realising value from large volumes of data.
Other organisations identify senior sales professionals as potential procurement professionals due to their skills in negotiation and relationship building.
So, why are we not seeing a greater willingness from hiring managers to source a wider talent pool instead of a linear focus on current procurement professionals?
There are a number of potential reasons behind this reluctance, including risk, remuneration and a lack of awareness to the layperson of how rewarding procurement careers can be.
With these perceived barriers in mind, I have suggested four ways your organisation can make procurement more attractive to senior people outside of the profession.
- Create a culture that encourages talent mobility –The ability for employees to learn new skills and move between roles must be encouraged from the top (i.e., the C-suite), as well as hiring managers. This mobility should be firmly baked into the company recruitment and onboarding processes as well as the culture, to attract new and existing talent.
- Equip procurement leaders with the time and training tools they require – Internal procurement leaders must be allocated sufficient time to train and mentor new procurement hires, to get them fully up to speed and prepared. Organisations with a skills-based approach are 107% more likely to place talent effectively, are 98% more likely to retain high performers, and have a reputation as a great place to grow and develop.
- Make Procurement more desirable to other professions – Is your organisation communicating the contribution procurement is making on a regular basis e.g., through internal e-updates and in-person meetings. If not, consider regularly communicating the key role procurement plays in significant strategic projects such as ESG and sustainability.
- Position procurement as an all-round rewarding profession – Even though procurement roles cannot compete with some professions when it comes to remuneration, it is still possible to make the discipline attractive in other ways. Suggestions include demonstrating the dynamism and ethical nature of the role. Increasing numbers of employees are looking beyond pure remuneration and seeking roles that factor in sustainability, ethical purchasing and contribute to a healthier environment. They desire more than just a competitive salary and benefits and are seeking meaningful jobs that are rewarding to society in general. In conclusion, procurement can be a highly rewarding and enjoyable career, offering multiple opportunities to embrace change and technology while mitigating risk, moving forward the ESG agenda while improving overall organisational performance.It can open doors for those employees with ambitions for taking on broader roles with potential to move into a wide range of careers. CPOs, procurement professionals, CIPS and the education system, as well as executive search professionals have a key role to play in ensuring the profession continues its increasing appeal to cross-sector senior leaders.
A special thank you to Alan Hartley, Andrew Hill, Robert Hoad, Nick Jenkinson, Robert Skidmore and Beth Wallace for their generous time and insight which helped contribute to the article.
If you would like to learn more about recruiting senior procurement talent from within or outside of the procurement sector, please comment below or message me on LinkedIn. Alternatively email me at Richard.Guest@BerwickPartners.co.uk
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