Career Advice for Procurement Leaders of the Future

Posted on April 4 , 2021. 
By Ben McDonald

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​At Connexus Global we regularly liaise with business heads and thought leaders across the spectrum of business, finance, supply chain and procurement, and discuss the role of the procurement function, it’s future direction and the sought after skills for future leaders in this space.

Following is some pertinent advice, for individuals at all levels within the procurement function – but of particular relevance to those with up to ten years’ experience who may well be considering a key career advancement move within the next 12 months.

Reasons Why NOW is a Fantastic Time for a Career in Procurement

Within organisations, now more than ever there is a growing focus on excellence within the supply chain function, meaning that ambitious individuals can expect a highly visible and valued role within the organisational structure. Likewise industrious team-members can expect varied responsibilities which directly impact on commercial success and offer the chance of meaningful insights in to how organisations bring products or services to market in an ethical and sustainable manner.

Excel on the People Side of Tech

Chances are if you have less than ten years’ experience, then you are already tech-savvy. A key challenge being faced by organisations within the sector, is to upskill the historically less tech savvy members of the team in order that the business may fully realise the abundant benefits that are available due to rapidly evolving technological advances within the procurement function. Understanding and directly focussing on the skills that allow you to embrace technology and bridge the tech-skills shortfall will no doubt see you as a future leader.

Practical advice: Pay attention – you will not have to look far for people that struggle with tech – – reach out and offer solutions, suggest improvements, and demonstrate tech-related efficiencies – even if it does not strictly form part of your role.

Endeavour to Stay One Step Ahead of Business Trends

When presented with a new job opportunity, one would be well served by taking a strategic planning approach, by thinking of the job beyond your current role – and even the job beyond that. A major drawback of becoming more senior in your career, is that it can be difficult to make any significant change of direction – so the impetus is on planning your moves well in advance, whilst you are still within a key developmental trajectory. In order to future proof careers, the astute will be focused on growth industries and in developing skillsets of the future.

Understanding What Type of Opportunity Will Best Future-Proof Your Career

Consider the following dilemma commonly faced by job-seekers: Do you

(a)    Take a short-sighted approach and accept a role purely on the basis of an attractive increase in salary being offered – irrespective of whether the new employer is experiencing only minimal growth, or operating in an industry in decline? Or

(b)    Make an investment in your future, by taking a strategic approach to accepting a role, which may not offer as large a salary increase, but is with a rapidly growing organisation, or in an industry of the future- where you can learn vital new skills?

Recommendation: If you have less than 10 years professional experience, the smart money would be to go with the second option – it is much more likely to pay dividends, both in terms of career progression opportunities, as well as higher remuneration down the line. Of course, if you can obtain a role which offers great opportunities for career growth and progression, as well as a sizeable salary increase, then Bravo – you have hit the jackpot!!

Emotional Intelligence and the Art of Communication:

A great deal of technological advancements serve to reduce the frequency of human interaction, meaning that the art of communicating effectively is at risk of being lost. The flow on effect of this may well impact on possibilities for organic development of emotional intelligence (EQ) – however, if you possess a high level of EQ, as demonstrated by strong communication and relationship building skills – you will most certainly enjoy a competitive advantage. Ultimately humans are social beings and having the ability to communicate and influence will become more of a rarity as machines start to play a greater role in the work force.

Practical advice: Find ways to immerse yourself with people even if its uncomfortable – this may be through travel, group volunteering, joining a team, or spearheading an idea of personal passion. Whatever route you take, you will invariably have greater opportunity to interact with a more diverse range of individuals and in doing so, earn a seat at the table with influencers in your field.

Commercial Acumen Married to Ethics and Sustainability:

In a highly competitive business landscape, organisations strive for a competitive edge, through a combination financial performance and business efficiency alongside a key focus on ethical and sustainable supply-chains and practices – consequently, you can be sure that this the need for individual with skills and a passion for and ability to bring together all these business-critical facets will make you stand you and give you a competitive advantage in the workforce of the future.

Practical advice: Read your company’s annual and quarterly reports – even if you are not directly being tasked to do so, be sure to be proactively forthcoming with sustainable, ethical solutions within your job deliverables.

At Connexus Global we are dedicated to providing our clients with highly relevant career advice, tailored to their individual needs. As such we believe that the wisdom contained within this article will provide you with some food for thought when making decisions about your future career direction – or likewise assess how you are currently performing in your present role. When you have less than 10 years professional experience, opportunities are often as forthcoming as they ever will be in your career – the present is the best time to make wise decisions and invest in the platform for your long-term career.

A final piece of advice and a reminder – the best career opportunities often present themselves when you are not looking and when you are happily performing well in your current job -so keep an open mind, nurture your skillset, and proactively develop your networks. Stay on point in these regards and your dream opportunity may well be just around the corner.

Ben McDonald


Consumer & Industrial Markets


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