A unique and rewarding career, procurement draws on and develops an extremely broad range of skills – resulting in teams of highly versatile, skilled and ambitious individuals continually seeking new challenges and opportunities.
In comparison with similar business functions, procurement can fall short on opportunity at the executive level, inevitably leading to a surplus of great candidates in a lighter job market.
Throughout this article, I’ll be highlighting not only how you can work towards attaining a position as Head of Procurement, but also several less-frequently considered paths that draw on your skills as a procurement professional to deliver a fulfilling, challenging and rewarding career.
Head of procurement (function, geography or commodity set)
A typically competitive recruitment process, I have observed that those who obtain these positions are among the top echelon of performers in their profession at the given time an opportunity presents. These individuals typically have a visible profile within their business community and can demonstrate flexibility to meet the demands of the role.
This flexibility can take the form of willingness to relocate, or availability for lateral moves which provide a broader platform for further future progression.
Typical roles in this category include: CPO, Head of Procurement, SVP, VP, Regional Head, Country Head, Head of Portfolio or Significant Commodity.
Alternative career paths considered less frequently:
Working for a vendor (or similar) in a commercial or sales capacity
Senior commercial or sales roles are becoming a more frequent career progression routes for high-achieving Procurement professionals.
Many organisations place a high value on procurement skills – particularly those who encounter robust procurement procedures within their own sales cycle. In my own experience, I’ve seen procurement talent successfully move into lucrative opportunities with IT software/hardware providers, digital consultancies, corporate real estate, marketing communications, commodities and industrial equipment.
Typical roles can include: client services director, CEO (SMEs), sales and account leadership, commercial leadership (Director – VP), business development.
Working for a procurement technology or services provider – client-facing roles and product development
The maturation and increasing sophistication of the procurement function over the past decade has led to the emergence and growth of organisations offering bespoke Procurement technology and consulting services.
SAP/Ariba, Coupa, PwC, Deloitte, Infosys and CIPS are all examples of technologies at the forefront of innovation in Procurement.
Typical roles can include: value engineering, client services and success management (technology), consulting (Principle – Director), as well as business/general management in services organisations with examples being in training and outsourcing.
Working in a stakeholder function: corporate services, marketing, engineering, supply chain, IT, HR, corporate real estate and PMO
As products and services sophistication develops at an increasingly rapid rate, organisations are learning to adapt quickly to understand new markets that often present uncharted commercial frameworks. Consequently, this has seen the need for increased commercial capability within other business functions.
Further, as procurement cycles shift to and from centralised, centre led and decentralised structures, this presents opportunities for versatile Procurement professionals with a fluidity of skillset to move across various corporate functions.
Typical roles may include: CIO, Head of PMO, Head of Asset Management, CCO, Facilities Management, Marketing Management, Vendor Management.
The varying and diverse options to grow your career discussed in this article are real observations from the recent career trajectories of my own network of procurement professionals.
To discuss what opportunities maybe presented for your career or business function feel free to make contact.
Ben is an experienced recruiter in the Singapore procurement market. He is currently Director at Connexus Search, a specialist value chain recruitment business with offices in Bangkok, Singapore and Perth working with global businesses in regional supply chain markets.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, or +65 9807 3174