Can procurement be sexy?—MAY 2012 PRINT EDITION

Highlighting procurement's more interesting, advanced skills may help attract new talent

May 30, 2012
by By Michael Power

Our sister magazine, MM&D, Canada’s Supply Chain Magazine, published a story in its March/April edition with the front cover headline: “Making the supply chain sexy”. The story covered a roundtable discussion about the recently released Canadian Supply Chain Sector Council’s HR study. The headline refers to a quote from one of the roundtable participants Tim Moore (who incidentally also wrote the page 9 story in this issue about contract work). Moore comments that few people plan a career in supply chain early in life, as they often do for other professions. “We have to look at how to make the supply chain sexy,” Moore notes.

Indeed, an article we feature in this edition focusing on education (see page 10) also makes the point that many people in procurement and supply chain tumble into the field from some other area, rather than pursuing it early on. I agree this is often true. Many people I meet and speak with at conferences and industry events didn’t get into procurement the way others get into, say, medicine or firefighting.

But I’ve also never encountered anyone who regrets the decision. It’s not as if there’s something the purchasing field lacks that keeps people from entering it. It’s just that young people joining the workforce (and even before that point) have little knowledge of what purchasing and supply chain involves, how to pursue it as a career, or what education is required to do so. As our education feature illustrates, there’s no shortage of post-secondary education options related to procurement. The trick is to get them in front of young people who otherwise might not know they exist.

A friend of mine who works in purchasing told me she likes the field because she enjoys shopping. My friend considers herself a personal shopper for the organization she works for. While not every procurement professional is going to feel this way, making the field interesting and visible to young people considering their future careers (high school students, for instance) would likely help boost the number of those interested in working in the field. To appeal to university students, it may also be helpful to highlight the more interesting, advanced skills procurement requires such as negotiation, strategic thinking and international focus.

Social media offer an alternative way to reach people, especially young people accustomed to using Twitter and other media. It’s something procurement organizations can use to reach new audiences. PMAC, for one, does a great job of staying in touch with its community through these routes.
Speaking of which, Purchasingb2b is now on Twitter (@purchasingb2b). That means stories we post on our website automatically get uploaded to our Twitter account so you can see them instantly. If you follow us, we’d love to follow you back.