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In this guest blog, Procurement Leaders invites former GlaxoSmithKline procurement director Jan Piskadlo to develop a discussion on starting a career in procurement that first appeared on the People In Procurement LinkedIn group. Find out more about People in Procurement here.
As sure as night follows day, there will always be a standing agenda item at conferences and roundtables on Procurement talent (or more likely lack of) and why the function consistently struggles to attract the right DNA.
I believe the answer can be found in the old adage: "get them while they are young". Schools, colleges and universities (with some exceptions) are procurement-free zones and young talent either has a negative perception or is largely ignorant to the opportunities our function can offer.
In my experience leaders in procurement are conspicuous by their absence in selling brand procurement at this level and consequently traditional career choices are reinforced.
Fear not ...a little investment here can reap rich rewards. Imagine if you are a young undergraduate and someone comes to tell you that there is a function, which allows you to experience and touch every part of the business. This function requires a behavioral DNA that is very similar to that of Gen Y.
You can have a seat at the table to drive sustainable profit growth by focusing on innovation, SRM and total cost based management.
This is the pitch my group took to universities in Asia in my previous role and more importantly backed up this pitch with an even better reality. Three years later we were receiving twice as many applications for our procurement graduate programme as marketing and sales combined. Graduates from that are moving into regional and global category roles and procurement talent in Asia is being exported to Europe.
All this requires substantial commitment to identify, grow and nurture skills and expertise. The reward is a tangible and sustainable pipeline of future talent. In that respect, you reap what you sow.
Jan Piskadlo is the former procurement director, emerging markets, APAC & Japan at GlaxoSmithKline.