Attracting and retaining procurement talent

Attracting and retaining procurement talent

Milan Panchmatia Blog, Procurement

From risk management, to fostering innovation and refining supply chains, procurement professionals have arguably never been as valued as they are today. Despite this, there remains much to be done for the function to secure its position at the board table. Procurement as a career path is still in its infancy compared to other more established functions, such as accounting or finance. Yet, the function has enjoyed a substantial boost in terms of importance within most businesses in the past few years and must use this momentum to establish itself and publicise its success. Procurement is finally starting to get some of the recognition it deserves, but we need the right talent to make sure it keeps evolving.

An evolving skillset

The challenging economic climate that we have experienced for the past few years has seen procurement make the step up from being a cost saver to a strategic partner. Procurement’s wider involvement in the business means the skillset needed by those within the function has evolved. At 4C Associates we are constantly on the lookout for top procurement talent, particularly those who can blend the traditional procurement consultant skillset with the ability to build relationships and take a holistic approach to problem solving. It is this type of professionals which not only get the job done, but also elevate the function as a whole.

We’ve designed our interview process around identifying this type of candidate and really focus on case study approaches. We usually give them a scenario and a variety of data to see how good they are at spotting opportunities. The best candidates are able to demonstrate communication skills, as well as analytical thinking, dynamism and a strategic mind-set. This type of professional is the future of the function. This type of approach also lets us target non-standard candidates who show a breadth of commercial experience that will translate at a later date. Having this breadth of talent within the organisation is important and lets us work with and understand our clients better.

Retaining talent

Of course,  once you identify the right person and make a hire, you need to keep them. Salaries in procurement and supply chain enjoyed an increase over the last year, higher than the overall UK average, reflecting the increasing demand for procurement professionals in the recent years.

According to a recent research by recruitment agency Hays procurement professionals are more ambitious than the average UK worker and will turn down jobs if no training or development is offered. Pay remains a major motivator with 68% of respondents saying they would be looking for a better package in their next role, however factors beyond pay are also ranked highly. More than 54% consider career progression, benefits and work culture as critical, with 64% willing to consider a pay cut for a better work life balance and a more attractive workplace culture.

Procurement now plays a key role in the strategies behind many leading businesses and this needs to become public knowledge. Talk up your achievements, both internally and externally and do not be afraid to go beyond savings when discussing your triumphs. Only by highlighting the latter will the profession be able to attract the type of talent which will keep procurement in the limelight.