Editor’s Note: Charles is founder, president and chief procurement officer of Next Level Purchasing, which offers the SPSM (Senior Professional in Supply Management) Certification.
Be sure to check out Charles’ Purchasing Certification Blog.
As I am writing this, we are approaching the presidential elections here in the USA. This period, which recurs every four years, is a time when some of the most interesting quotes are published in the news, as each candidate tries to outshine the other (usually by viciously criticizing the other).
Strangely enough, I came across one such quote this week that can be adapted to procurement professional development. In a widely-publicized speech, one of the candidates criticized the other’s former mantra of “hope” by saying that “hope is not a strategy” when it comes to foreign policy.
It got me thinking. Most procurement professionals want a better career: a more enjoyable job, more respect from management and internal customers, more fulfilling work, and, of course, higher pay. They “hope” that someday, somehow, all of those characteristics of a rewarding career will be theirs.
But many of those procurement professionals stop at hoping. When asked what training they engaged in during the past year, they will say “none.” When asked what they did to learn about new procurement practices that emerged in the past year, they will say “nothing.” When asked where they went to find out about new developments in their field in the past year, they will say “nowhere.” When asked if there are any credentials or qualifications – other than the mere one more year of experience – they added to their resume in the last year, they will say “no.”
But do they “hope” that their career will be more rewarding?
But how much more rewarding can a career be when one hasn’t been trained on anything new? Or tried to learn about emerging procurement practices? Or gone outside of their office to see how the rest of the world is progressing? Or acquired any type of qualification that would make them worthy of more than they are getting now?
These people are relying on hope.
But hope is not a strategy for advancing a procurement career.
What is a strategy for advancing a procurement career?
A procurement career advancement strategy has many components. Consider these strategy components:
- Being educated on aspects of procurement you don’t know. Believe me, no one “knows it all.” Through the online courses, articles, blog posts, whitepapers, and book that I’ve written, I’ve probably written 2,000 or so pages of material about procurement. I still have much, much more to write. And I don’t know it all. There is always more to learn in procurement and plenty of educational opportunities to learn what you don’t know.
- Learning about new and emerging procurement practices. Of course, formal training is a source for learning about new and emerging procurement practices. But you can learn through less formal methods, too. Even reading a magazine article or blog post each day can keep you on top of things. But doing nothing will surely allow the more ambitious procurement professionals to pass you up.
- Leave the office. Whether it is going to an industry trade show, visiting a supplier’s facility, or other remote venture, getting outside of your office on business trips will expose you to new ideas and prevent your thinking from getting stale.
- Add to your qualifications. As the procurement profession gets more and more advanced – and shows no signs of slowing – the standard is getting higher for qualifying for procurement positions. This is clear in the advertisements for open procurement jobs. And, in the future, it’s unlikely to ever be as easy to qualify for a procurement job as it is today. Degrees, advanced degrees, certifications, experience, knowledge of other functions, and more qualifications are required for these jobs. To remain qualified, you cannot rely on the qualifications that got you your current job. You need to continually add to your qualifications.
Advancing your procurement career is no longer something that happens simply by staying in the profession long enough. You need a plan. You need action. You need a strategy.
And hope is not a strategy.