MEMBERSHIP
BLOG
MAGAZINE
EVENTS
ACADEMY
RESOURCES
ABOUT

Success stories
COMMUNITY & CONNECT
PROCUREMENT STRATEGY
CATEGORY INTELLIGENCE
BACK

Paul Teague: A tender approach


14-Nov-11 11:18

There were several memorable phrases in the presentations at last week’s Procurement Leaders Forum and Masterclass in Boston.

But for me, one of the most memorable phrases came from Nick Gunn, vice president of global procurement for HP, when he described what he called the talent imperative in procurement:

 

“When hiring, we have to look beyond red-meat-eating negotiators,” he asserted. The phrase calls to mind an image of a monster-like character with a snarl and a loud voice, sleeves rolled up and fists constantly pounding on the table. And, many companies in the old days hired just that kind of procurement person, expecting the staff member to beat down suppliers to get the last penny of savings no matter what the result. Maybe some companies still hire that type.

 

But that type won’t get far today, and neither will his or her company. It’s not that the ability to negotiate isn’t important. It is. But as important - maybe more important - is business acumen as well as the ability to develop good relationships, not only with suppliers but within the company. “Talent is a differentiator,” Gunn said, and not having a staff of people who understand business and human relations as well as procurement strategy is a major risk.

 

He is not the first person to recognize the need for softer skills, or to recognize that aservice mindset is critical, but his phrasing dramatizes the point nicely.

 

Bill Michels, author and CEO of supply chain consultancy ADR North America has seen his share of young professionals steeped in procurement theory, but unable to see or understand the big business picture. Some come out of school with the idea that everything works according to the strategic plan, forgetting that office politics can be a factor in implementation - or blockage - of the plan. There is a knowledge gap, he told me in a recent interview. “Often, procurement doesn’t own the budget, so you have to use your influencing skills,” he said. If you haven’t developed those skills, you’ll accomplish nothing.

 

How can new professionals get those skills and that good business sense? One way is for them to choose their parents wisely, because some of the traits required for influencing others are a matter of DNA. Procurement executives can’t help with that choice, but they can mentor new recruits, much like Gunn does at HP. Every procurement operation should have a mentoring program to teach staff the soft skills that will help them exert their influence.

 

Good negotiating ability will always be part of procurement’s skill set. But the soft skills can be the tenderizer that softens the red meat and makes it easier for everyone else to digest.

 

Paul Teague is US contributing editor of Procurement Leaders. To find out more about the magazine, click here.


Paul Teague Paul Teague is US contributing editor for Procurement Leaders. He is the former editor-in-chief of Purchasing Magazine and has provided quality journalism to the US purchasing community for more than a decade.

 
Subscribe to feed Subscribe to feed
Rating (0 vote/s)
 

SUBSCRIBE TO NEWSLETTER


FREE 

SUPPLEMENTS

PREDICTIVE INSIGHT TO FUEL WORLD-CLASS DECISIONS

Unique, high value research and analysis provides CPO's with the information they need to make the right strategic choices.

FREE 

WHITEPAPERS

OFFERINGS

 

ABOUT

MEMBERS

FOLLOW US

AWARDS

MEMBERSHIP

 

COMMUNITY

 

MAGAZINE

 

EVENTS

 

ACADEMY

 

RESOURCES

CONTACT US

 

ABOUT US

 

ADVERTISE WITH US

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

 

WHAT'S NEW

SIGN IN

 

BECOME A MEMBER

 

REQUEST A DEMO

 

JOB SEARCH

LINKEDIN

 

TWITTER

 

GOOGLE+

 

RSS

 

NEWS ARCHIVE

Procurement Leaders Awards

TERMS OF USE . PRIVACY POLICY . COOKIE POLICY

© Sigaria Ltd and its contributors. All rights reserved. www.sigaria.com

Sigaria accepts no responsibility for advice or information contained on this site although every effort is made to ensure its accuracy. Users are advised to seek independent advice from qualified persons before acting upon any such information.