Next Gen of Procurement Talent

When is the last time you took a serious look at your Procurement job descriptions?  I would take a calculated wager that it reads something like this:

“Come join our team at Acme. We are the best in the industry and have top notch benefits.  We are seeking a candidate who has 10+ years of X commodity experience and can negotiate better than most. This candidate must be able to drive TCO and know Y Procurement system. Must have good communication skills and know MS Office.”

Ok, maybe it is not that bad….but might be close.  After wiping off the figurative dust from the job descriptions – do they actually reflect the type of talent we need NOW and years into the future?  To get Procurement unstuck, we must (yes – it is imperative) seek new skills, new thought, new talent.

Change Makers:

If you have not noticed yet, the world is changing at a rapid pace. In fact, society in general is looking for new vs established.  Think about it – business that once touted established in 1910 aren’t doing so well anymore. Some no longer exist. Those that are still here are changing their business models to compete with what is new.  Beyond that, there are new technologies, new business methods, new…new…new.

When looking for talent, are you looking for those leading that change or for people that have change done to them?  It would be great if instead of looking for min. years of experience, to seek how the candidates have changed the “world” around them for the better.  The internal stakeholders and your customers are expecting change and are in some ways driving change. To build those robust stakeholder relationships, to drive innovation, to solve business issues, Procurement needs those who are proven change makers.

When I first started in Procurement, I spent many a night learning negotiation techniques. Things like the best negotiation technique is silence. Or, stratify your concessions, thereby never giving in to your must haves. However, with the opportunities before Procurement these days, I firmly believe that we do not need more negotiators; we need influencers. The key difference is that negotiations seem to have a finite end in mind while influencing requires an ongoing relationship. It required a deep understanding of the people you are working with, an understanding of their goals and what drives them. Notice – I am not only talking about suppliers here, but also stakeholders, c-suite executives, and matrixed counterparts.  Great influencers have great relationships internal and external to the company. They also make tremendous progress against their goals.

Those with Grit:

We have so much to do in Procurement to take it to the next level. And, it is going to be hard. It will require paradigm shifts and tough situations. Therefore, we are going to need team members who will prevail through  it all. We need those who will not give up or give in easily. We should be looking for those who have experience going after a goal and pushing through even when it seemed impossible.  Gritty people are always looking to their goal(s), always looking for ways to improve and for feedback. They are purposeful in why they are seeking a spot on your team and how it helps them attain their goals.  And, when those intersect, they will be a force to be reckoned with.

To keep pace with technology is an endless pursuit. However, it can, when implemented properly, be a game changer. Those who have specialized tech skills focused on automation, AI, big data analytics are and will be tremendously valuable to Procurement. When applied correctly these technologies will enable rapid sourcing, predictive analytics, and will automate most transactional purchasing processes. If you want to keep pace, hire talent now that can manage and deploy such solutions well into the future.

You might be thinking that these attributes just described are hard to identify on a resume. That is 100% true. Some of these are even hard to identify successfully in a traditional interview.  That is alright. Once you are done rewriting the job descriptions, then next up will be changing the interview format!  Get those creative juices going and go hire someone great for now and for years to come!



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