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Aside from major global firms such as Airbus, Nestlé and Amazon, the UK is not exactly brimming with procurement graduate training schemes. The majority of people enter the profession either through one of these companies or by working in another area, such as business analysis. This ad-hoc approach is not a sustainable way to attract talent and if procurement executives want the function to perform to its full potential – and become a destination of choice for graduates – they will need to put more thought into the issue of talent.
Some firms say they do not want to waste time, effort and money developing graduate talent only for these staff to then leave the organisation at the first opportunity. But it benefits the entire procurement profession to give graduates the best start in training and development when joining the workforce. It is then up to the organisation how it treats this talent to make them want to stay.
If we look to Manchester United football club for inspiration – not the billion-pound version of today, but the club that developed a number of world-class players during the 1990s. Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt, the Neville brothers and, of course, David Beckham led the team to new heights over the following two decades, winning numerous trophies during this period. Each also went on to play international football. Although Beckham, Butt and Phil Neville eventually left, the remaining three remained loyal to Manchester United, highlighting the ongoing benefits of nurturing your own talent. The club benefited from developing players who had the skills to lead the team to greatness and moulding them in its own image. Many organisations could learn from this approach to developing internal talent.
Fortunately, a relatively straightforward solution is at hand. By developing innovative and robust training programmes that provide a clear pathway through the organisation, employers are more likely to attract high-potential people. Firms that struggle to attract professionals to their procurement teams benefit by developing their own talent and building loyalty among staff with the skills and mentality required to succeed.
You’re probably reading this thinking: ‘If the big firms are offering graduate courses, why should we?’ and the answer is simple. If every footballer was developed by Manchester United, the sport would be considerably more boring than it currently is. The same applies to procurement. The profession would lack diversity and miss out on untapped creativity, innovation, and an ability to align with a range of target audiences.
Developing talent is an investment, but a worthwhile one that can bring long-lasting benefits. Do you want your firm to sit atop the procurement pyramid? Grow your own talent, much like Manchester United did. You may be surprised by the benefits.
Gary Noble is co-managing director of procurement and supply chain consultancy 1st Executive
This contributed article has been written by a guest writer at the invitation of Procurement Leaders. Procurement Leaders received no payment directly connected with the publishing of this content.