Procurement professional: a career for the future

More profit and growth for companies: this is the mission of the procurement professional, a career that tends to grow continuously.

The procurement professional is an increasingly important asset in corporate meeting rooms. With about 50 candidates fighting for a position, this function is one of the hottest in 2017, according to Michael Page’s experts.

You must be wondering: what attracts so many people to this profession? In addition to average salaries around R$ 8,500, according to Love Mondays website, the area offers new challenges and a variety of hiring sectors.

On the company side, the main reason of the high demand for these professionals is the need to hire people who really understand the routine of corporate purchases, considering that the procurement area is responsible for 60% of the expenses of any business. And every penny saved on procurement is an additional penny of profit for the company.

Other encouraging news for those who consider pursuing such career is that procurement executives from 49% of the 111 companies surveyed by the Brazilian Council of Procurement Executives (CBEC) hold vice-presidency or board positions. This stresses the fact that the area, formerly seen as support for other departments, has been upgraded, thus becoming a strategic area for companies.

Required skills of the procurement professional

With such varied backgrounds as management, economics and engineering, this professional usually specializes in courses focused on Procurement or Logistics and Supply Chain. But a single specialization isn’t enough to be a good executive in the area. It’s also necessary to have interests in economy, law, and policies of supply markets on a global scale, among other complementary subjects.

The hierarchy of the purchasing sector in an industry usually comprises the positions of assistant, analyst, buyer (junior, full and senior) and manager.

To establish as a good buyer, you have to master a number of tools to get the best cost-effectiveness possible. And that’s why is vital, on a day to day basis, the ability to make deals, establish contracts and chart out the best strategies with suppliers.

First, you must know how to develop alternative supply sources and new business partners. You must then handle the evaluation and approval processes of suppliers. Keeping a good relationship with them is another concern, since you, as a professional, must build a base of previously selected, trusted suppliers.

Whether buying supplies or equipment for businesses, industries or governments, the procurement expert must be also ready to meet all sorts of demands, as well as understand them perfectly.

Upon receiving a request for thousand high-performance computers, for instance, a good buyer must be able to challenge the order by analyzing the actual needs of the company. He must check which professionals will use the devices and if the target functions actually require such computers. Employees who create spreadsheets, for instance, won’t need such machines.

This is where analytical power – a coveted requirement among employers – comes in. However, some skills are only achieved with years of experience.

To become a manager, it’s necessary to know the universe of corporate procurement as nobody else, and to constantly analyze the market, trends and availability of goods, as well as handle the responsibility of training and coordinating the work of subordinates.

Having a master’s degree or MBA is vital to increase the chances of moving to a managerial position. Some schools offer procurement management programs with immersion in the process of needs assessment, definition of life cycle value, procurement decision-making and contract negotiation. Courses may also include logistics and channel management, procurement laws, government contracting, and operations management.

What are the main challenges of procurement professionals?

Despite the benefits, the procurement area is an extremely challenging career choice. To thrive in it, you must have a strong analytical ability, in order to assess buying histories, demand, seasonality of commodities, and other factors on which a good purchase depends.

While risks will be always part of your routine, on the other hand knowing how to manage them using the right tools is key to build a solid career.

Being attentive to the conduct of suppliers is also crucial for a buyer. After all, this image will soon be a reflection of the buying company. Therefore, this professional is expected to build strategies, for an efficient management of all important details for the procurement area.

It’s no wonder that the most prominent professionals in the industry are those who use all available tools in their favor, in order to generate savings, operational gains, supplier collaboration and profit.

What are the trends to grow in this job?

Businesses are investing in new technologies, to meet the challenges of the current market. However, the skills needed to make the most of such tools are scarce in the job market.

Just like Information Technology (IT) professionals, procurement professionals must stay updated to think strategically. This requires constant interaction with technology, not only to optimize procurement practices, but also to drive business opportunities.

Currently, procurement people who master the technology are among the most sought professionals by the companies. With notions of the digital universe, buyers manage to reduce work, time and costs, and also replace manual tasks, to dedicate themselves fully to the most strategic side of their profession.

Current tools help buyers in their performance path. And they also guarantee more agility, collaboration, savings and governance, both for the procurement area and the company as a whole.

Therefore, knowing how to operate in a marketplace or improve daily processes by software will be soon a prerequisite. In these virtual environments, the buyer can optimize his/her work, to find new sources of supply and partners, and also generate savings and compliance.

With the increase of trade rules, along with environmental and ethical requirements of businesses, there will be also a demand to understand the implications of corporate responsibility and sustainability for procurement and the supply chain.

Therefore, facilitating audit processes is one more responsibility of procurement teams. Once again, technology can help these professionals to track all transactions made, as just a login and a password are enough to receive this information in a virtual environment.

Technology also helps the manager to grow in his/her profession. Knowing how to use a software developed for the department in question, he/she can manage the entire area, and still have control on the whole procurement process, team performance data, report access and KPIs – essential indicators to track and measure the performance of all department actions.

Finally, being a procurement professional is a great choice for newly graduates seeking an exciting career, with great growth possibilities. This is one of the few industries that give their employees the opportunity to prove their value and take control of projects from start to end.

By quickly following environmental changes and having its complexity influenced by the pace of Information Technology, the function of procurement professional will be one of the most outstanding in the future.

Want to know more about it? Find out which are the 20 core competencies of the buyer.