This summary captures the main conclusions of presentations and panel discussion during the “Born to be a buyer – how to elevate your career in procurement” conference, which took place on September 27th in Krakow. The event brought together over 100 procurement professionals and enthusiasts.
The conference began with a Keynote speech made by Will Beattie, Head of International Business Development at CIPS. Will spoke about the future of Procurement and main challenges in this area. Slowly but surely, procurement departments grow automation across processes, both transactional and tactical, so buyers should engage and grow in the direction of strategic procurement, i.e. co-creating the entire company strategy, engaging in development of new products and services, building competitive advantage, searching for new suppliers, solutions, supplier development management, value engineering, etc.
Buyers should also play a role of trusted advisors in the company. In order to do that, they need to have highly developed technical knowledge and besides, a wide range of soft skills. Karolina Szyndler, Branch Manager from Hays supported her predecessor’s vision of an ideal Buyer with hard data from recruitment experience. Hays has learnt that there are two key soft competences expected from procurement employees: the ability to negotiate (72%) and proactive attitude and approach to work (70%). Communicativeness, flexibility and the ability to establish business relationships are also important. High financial expectations of candidates, lack of management competences and excessive or insufficient experience were pointed as main challenges among candidates for roles in Procurement.
Piotr Dziwok, Country Chairman of Shell Companies in Poland talked about Procurement and Supply Chain challenges from Shell’s perspective. Shell aims at digitalizing processes so that employees focus on value adding activities. They also put a lot of care and effort on development. Shell Business Operations Krakow (SBO) has 11 business lines and new departments are opening. With over 3400 employees, including 700+ specialists hired already in 2018. SBO has transformed into a specialized SSC hub and now seeks for experienced professionals - 85% of the new employees are experienced ones and only 15% are fresh graduates.
Later on, Piotr Dziwok, Shell; Bartosz Hnatyszyn, Arjo; Mateusz Rak, IAG GBS Poland; Karolina Szyndler, Hays; and Andrzej Ujda, Rolls-Royce had a discussion about the procurement professionals' labor market. The questions they had to face covered gaps in procurement competences. The panellists pointed at such issues as too little focus on category management, lack of know-how in specific categories, insufficient digitalization, different systems in different countries, gaps in soft skills and not enough technological knowledge exchange between Procurement and internal clients.
The panelists also focused on procurement attractiveness. Mr Ujda admitted that “Work-life balance and atmosphere kept buyers” at Rolls Royce. Mr Hnatyszyn added that the best way to make people active in Procurement is to let them have impact. In his view “to make a change, you need to challenge yourself first”. Buyers should be motivated by the desire to have influence. Piotr Dziwok also noted that “Work in procurement has very visible results”. This results are visible in revenue, cost improvement and budget. This can be attractive to people from Sales, Engineers, Business and other non-procurement functions.
The last speach of Mariusz Turek from Profitia and Lisa Riches from CIPS covered the hard skills development opportunities for Buyers through CIPS. The Institute offers a vast range of products to support Buyers in their development – from Qualifications (exams), e-learning, books, web resources, to structured programmes such as CIPS Corporate Award. They are easily accessible in Poland through PROFITIA, who is an exclusive CIPS Partner in the country since 2014.
To conclude, if you want to know the entire organization and have an impact, become a Buyer. It is not an easy job, but it is extremely rewarding and has a bright future for those who want to challenge themselves and their organizations.