How to Get into Procurement
You’re passionate about the supply chain. You look at the intricacies with awe and excitement, even on the days when you’re just vetting a supplier.
This probably sounds familiar to you – if you’re an up-and-coming procurement superstar. Sure, your day-to-day may look a little more like chasing rogue spenders or trying to get a lower price from suppliers, but one day you’re going to own your company’s supply chain.
But how do you get there? Figuring out how to move up in any career can feel like trying to crack a safe. Here are five surefire ways to get ahead, and become the chief procurement officer of tomorrow.
1. Get comfortable with data
Data is increasingly important for procurement. New purchasing technology offers a breadth of payment and purchase data, which you can utilize to glean valuable insights. What sort of data can you look at? Modern procurement software gives you insight into what people are buying, how frequently, and for what price.
If you’re not sure what to do with this data, don’t fret. It might be helpful to brush up on your data analytics skills. Thankfully, e-learning is widely available and affordable so you need not worry about getting a degree in data science. Try taking some courses, or read a bit about payment data.
Being able to offer valuable insight from the data you collect sets you apart and offers you a strategic advantage within your team.
2. Learn from the pros
There are a lot of ways to gain excellent exposure to CPOs who can offer insight on how they grew their career. So many, that it might be overwhelming to determine the best channels to use.
Where should you start? Attend a webinar or industry event that provides you with access to procurement professionals and vendors who you can learn from. With events, you’ll get to meet a broad variety of procurement professionals from different industries, and different levels of their careers. You’ll have a chance to network and build connections in your field. You might even have the chance to gripe about tail spend over a cocktail or two!
3. Diversify your skills
To elevate yourself to someday be the CPO of tomorrow, you’re going to need to know how to lead like one!
Believe it or not, one of the hardest and most critical parts of moving up is knowing how to communicate, lead, and interact with your peers.
You guessed it: we’re talking about soft skills. Soft skills are the person-to-person skills that come with experience. One great way to foster personal growth is to ask for feedback. Not just from your direct manager, but from other teams you work with. Gaining self-awareness is the first step towards leadership enlightenment. Go forth, and ask away.
4. Build your personal brand
Having an online presence can play a crucial role in your growth in your career. Social media has the power to connect you to myriad procurement professionals who you might not have access to otherwise.
Use social media tools like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Procurious to seek out knowledgeable professionals in your industry. This will give you ideas on how you should go about presenting yourself. Think of your online presence as another resume: your current and prospective employers should see you as an innovator and thought leader in the space.
5. Collaborate across your company
When was the last time you spoke to treasury? How about the sales team? If you can’t recall the last time cross-collaboration occurred, don’t fret – you’ve got a great opportunity on your hands.
Collaborating across departments helps you become more strategic. For example, if you notice that human resources and marketing are both buying t-shirts, but from different suppliers, you could meet with them to learn more about each supplier they’re working with. You can proactively provide cost-effective insight into the benefits of using the same supplier, consolidating the spend under one contract.
There is a lot to gain from cross-departmental collaboration, but one thing you can surely expect is recognition for building bridges across teams from management.
The world is your oyster
You’ve got the drive to succeed, and you’re already moving in the right direction with your career. Take these tips to heart – we’re counting on you to be the next big name in procurement.