Purchasing and procurement roles exist in medium to large sized companies and organisations, both private and public sector. It’s all about sourcing products, services and goods from suppliers throughout the world by negotiating the best deals and prices – whist being aware of ethical, sustainability and risk management issues.
Career – Purchasing/Procurement
What is it?
What skills and qualifications will I need?
You’ll need to be good at -
Negotiating – tendering and choosing the best deals for both contracts and price related work.
Organising & Planning – dealing with multiple contracts at any one time.
Decision making – making quick commercial decisions.
People skills – you’ll be dealing with external suppliers as well as internal ‘customers’.
Flexible – it’s a demanding role which often involves travel and is definitely not a 9-5 desk job. Different clients will require different approaches.
Numbers – your whole raison d’être is to save money for your company, you’ll be constantly checking prices/costs.
Commercial awareness – what’s important and legal.
Networking – making contacts in all industries and areas to keep your choices wide.
Degrees in business, languages, management, marketing, purchasing, retail management and engineering are preferable but demonstration of your personal skills in the areas above are just as important.
What else do I need to know?
You’ll be responsible for inviting and evaluating tenders, negotiating final pricing and contracts. Depending on your employer, the role may be specialist and niche and you’ll need to get to know your market quickly – developing relationships with suppliers to obtain the best deals. You will need to monitor service levels and forecast future requirements – ensuring products and services are available at the right time.
Get some relevant experience – anything from general buying and selling in order to demonstrate your negotiating skills and business acumen to an internship, paid work experience or voluntary work shadowing. Some companies will offer summer placements – seek them out. Work towards getting a CIPS qualification. Roles exist in a wide range of sectors – from supermarkets and retail companies to the Armed Forces and government.
Where can I get more information?
CIPS – Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply https://www.cips.org find out about the professional qualifications and ongoing training available.