Describe the main responsibilities of your role.
I am responsible for the set-up and management of the procurement function.
How does your average day start?
Checking my BlackBerry for emails and meetings, followed by pleasantries in the office, and a toasted bagel and a cup of tea. Then I get down to work. I am scoping how procurement (purchasing, contract management, and supplier management) should look here, and I am still very much at the early stages of mapping out procedure and policy. I’m also involved in a number of tenders, and other negotiations so every day is full.
What is your favourite part of your job?
I love the challenge, the people, and the fact that what my organisation does is visible. I find it rewarding to see something that I have created or purchased being used.
What is the most fulfilling part of your role?
It has to be creating a procurement function from scratch. I haven’t seen many roles of this nature, so I consider myself lucky to be in this position.
What is the most difficult part of your job?
I would say understanding all of the interdependent relationships. It is definitely one big team effort here; everyone has a role to play. The next difficult part for me is learning about the different categories. I’ve gone from buying technology to fire engines!
What do you feel are the key skills needed to be successful in your role?
In this role, some of the key skills required are having the ability to develop good working relationships with my colleagues, and stakeholders, experience in lifecycle contract management, ability to listening and question, take on board differing opinions, finding compromises, and working together.
How and why did you get started in the profession?
I didn’t start life wanting to be procurement professional; however, procurement appeared to be my fate. I left school at 16 and started working in a clothes shop. The owner used to take me to London to buy stock for the shop, so although I was not directly involved in any negotiation, I watched and was instinctively learning. I went from that to working for a vehicle repair workshop that carried out repairs for insurance claims. My role was to obtain quotes from suppliers for the repair of vehicles, then order the parts and take delivery. I was beginning to see a career evolving so I successfully applied for a junior buyer role with a small manufacturing company where I bought raw materials.
After four years, I was encouraged by my family to apply for a buyer role at a local retail bank. I really didn’t think I had the skills to be successful in my application; however, I think my personality and desire to learn came though and I got the job. I committed myself to this organisation for 12 years and the reward was I developed into a fully fledged procurement professional. Basically, as procurement evolved in the bank, I did too.
However, I eventually reached the point where another challenge was needed, and that had to be a stepping stone to further my career. I achieved this by taking the position of Head of Sourcing for EMEA at an investment bank. And now a new challenge begins, and one that I am very happy to have. When I look back and see how much I have achieved, I can only tell you that I accomplished all of this by working hard, understanding what was required of me, and wanting to learn.
What advice would you give someone who wants to progress to your position?
Sometimes it’s about being given a chance; however, don’t expect opportunities to land in your lap as you need to makes things happen. My advice to you is, always do your best. Listen, learn, prepare, challenge, evolve, and develop good working relationships with your stakeholders. If you do all of these, you are on the right path. Professional qualifications like CIPS provide a good technical foundation and are usually attractive to prospective employers; however, in my opinion they are not a necessity.
What do you think the next step in your career will be?
I’m a bit like a rescue dog; I’m looking for my ‘forever home’. My current role presents a huge challenge, and the culture here gives me the feeling that I could be happy here for years to come.
Day in the life
Read about the day in the life of a Category Specialist.