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Compared to a lot of other functions procurement sits in something of a naturally advantageous position when it comes to attracting the very best talent and that, ultimately, can help continue the functions journey out of the shadows of the back-office where buyers were seen as raisers of POs who might save a few pounds or dollars every now and again.
As a career, a role in procurement can offer global travel, collaboration with external suppliers as well as other internal stakeholders. But it also offers opportunities to help with the development of new product innovations, work with the latest technologies and help in the fight to improve the performance of the business when it comes to sustainability.
For the millennial generation —those born between 1980 and the turn of the millennium who are now beginning to fill up the workforce— those opportunities are very important when it comes to choosing a career.
But, while this generation might be attracted to the function because of these opportunities, it is what comes next that is important to the ultimate success and development of the function itself. Millennials want to move around, they are not happy standing still, but instead of that simply being a case of getting a few years service out of them and losing them to marketing or finance, what is often needed is a formal secondment process where buyers are sent to other functions after being hardwired into what procurement can offer to others.
This will involve giving them a good foundation knowledge of what procurement does in terms of cost savings but also getting them involved in value-add projects like developing innovations out of the supply base. This will give them the ability to show those other functions what procurement can do and how it can help them hit their targets. When they come back to procurement they will have strong links back into those other units and be able to speak their language opening up future opportunities for procurement to find value in areas of spend that would have once been considered off-limits. This will in turn benefit the business through lower costs and new value propositions.
The biggest challenge to all of this is the competition one procurement function faces against another from a different industry for that talent. This is where procurement needs to use the brand and shout about the exclusive opportunities it offers.
#ProcurementCan is a new campaign from Procurement Leaders designed to spark debate about the good things that the function can do. Share your thoughts on what the function can do below or on Twitter using our hashtag.