Why Procurement Needs a Cool Makeover
Written by Iain Campbell McKenna, Senior Global VP, LavenirAI
Regardless of your position in the procurement hierarchy, how many of you reading this article can still relate to the above quote? Many of the CPOs with whom I have spoken continue to wonder why what they and their teams do is not seen as a “cool career” – especially by the new generation.
If you think about it, they have a case for thinking that they are part of the “push you down and take your lunch money” group.
Think about it, how many times have you been at a party where someone asks you what you do for a living, and when you say procurement, they give you a glassy-eyed smile and politely say, “that’s interesting.”
I am willing to admit that procurement doesn’t have the spotlight glow of Hollywood fame nor project the excitement and creativity of marketing. By the way, Although I missed my casting call from Hollywood, grateful that fate led me to audition for procurement. It turns out I found my true calling.”
My point is that while it may not carry the swagger of the previously referred to “jobs” like a youngster growing out of their original career aspirations, procurement is starting to gain some “real” -boardroom cred.
From Backroom Bureaucracy to Headlining Strategist: The Exciting World of Procurement
Not to beat the proverbial dead horse, but continuing lamentations that procurement is a dull, bureaucratic, and uncool career choice are being “challenged” in the news headlines daily.
From empty shelves and blocked canals to ongoing port congestion and rising inflation, it is becoming abundantly clear to everyone that procurement touches every part of our lives – both business and personal.
In this regard, we are the world’s movers and shakers—the gatekeepers of the vital arteries that connect civilisation to all products and services.
The enormity of what we do and the accompanying responsibilities that go with it include more than merely buying something. A procurement professional is doing some amazing things behind the scenes, from product innovation and achieving ESG objectives to enabling you to turn on the lights at night and the heat in winter. I am reluctant to use the words “unsung hero,” but this moniker is true in many ways.
What is truly exciting is that everyone is starting to see and acknowledge it!
A Time For Change
When someone asks me what someone in procurement does besides saying, “we do everything,” with the appropriate smirk, I invariably say: “procurement is where strategy meets hustle, where vision meets execution.” I close with, “if you’re a go-getter who wants to make a real impact in the business world, procurement might be your calling.”
Of course, we need more than passionate or inspirational words enthusiastically spoken to sell our profession to the next generation.
"The First Step to Coolness: Rethinking Job Descriptions"
When it comes to writing a job specification for a procurement role, it can be tempting to rattle off a list of perfunctory functions and duties simply. Organisations that approach potential talent – let alone retain existing talent, in this manner should include a picture of a time clock and offer free punch cards.
Think about it for a moment – a long list of job descriptions is not exactly the most exciting read. It’s dry, boring, and doesn’t really sell the role to potential candidates. It might even turn them off completely. And that’s not what we want, right?
Think about it – procurement professionals are like the secret agents of the business world. They have to navigate complex negotiations, forge alliances, and make the tough decisions that keep the company running smoothly. And all the while, they have to keep the company’s best interests in mind.
So, let’s start selling the role like it’s the coolest thing since sliced bread. Show the potential candidates that they’ll be part of a team that’s making a real impact, one procurement deal at a time. And who knows, they might just decide to join your team of procurement secret agents.