Singapore Procurement Market: 2019 Mid-Year Review (Feb – July)

Posted on August 28 , 2019. 
By Ben McDonald

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There are clear signs Singapore is becoming a hub for regionally executed transformation activity in procurement and the wider supply chain with leading businesses investing in capability here.

There is a slight shift in demand away from skill sets that were previously sought on a large scale and centralized basis such as regional and global category management. There are now increased requirements for skills that improve the functional processes, linking the function with the regional business and doing so with technology enablement.

Where skill gaps exist, these are being sought from wider industries and business functions such as operations, technology and PMO’s.

A wide range of industries have been hiring in reasonably equally measure including chemicals, agriculture, food and consumer goods, technology and eCommerce all of which have been stead in their hiring. This is a shift away from mass hiring in a smaller number of industries and employers as seen before, such as in financial services, life science or resources.

Whilst general activity is consistent with what we saw in the last quarter of 2018, there is a steady rate of hiring for core procurement roles, and in certain pockets of the market, there is increased demand where skill shortages exist.

Skills in Demand

  • Those that can enable the procurement strategy in the business through technology enablement will see a continued increase in job opportunities where the market is extremely buoyant.
  • Change management skills and the ability to articulate process change and new technology introduction at an operational level.
  • Highly specialized category and commodity knowledge is in continued demand, particularly in direct or technology categories across a wide range of industries, including Food & Beverage, Consumer Home and Health/Beauty Care, Pharmaceuticals, and Electronics.

LinkedIn Stats*: February – August 2019

  • There are approximately 9,315 procurement professionals in Singapore. Of these, 1,585 (17%) were open to new opportunities. This is a slight decrease in total numbers from December 2018 and a slight increase in the number of those open to new opportunities.
  • The most active hiring companies in Singapore procurement have been Lazada, Unilever, ALPS, Dairy Farm, RedMart, Resorts World Sentosa, Sembcorp, Exxon Mobil, NTUC, and DSTA.
  • The largest procurement organisations in Singapore are Unilever, P&G, HP, NTUC, IBM, ST Engineering, DSTA, Phillips, and Shell.
  • There have been approximately 480 job moves in Singapore procurement so far in 2019.
  • Less than 5% of candidates hired in Singapore procurement have had fewer than 12 months of experience.

Connexus Global Observations

  • A decrease in corporate category management has been replaced by an increase in Procurement transformation positions as well as trade category management positions, notably in eCommerce.
  • Procurement transformation and change management related positions have counted for over half of our Procurement placements this year from Specialist to Director level. A significant shift away from centralized category management in the past. There is an increase category and country roles being hire in regional geographies.
  • The market has increasingly becoming fragmented across a range of tier 1 & 2 organisations with a continued shift in numbers away from large-scale and centralized regional and global teams.
  • There is continued demand for highly specialized leadership roles with Asia Pacific experience. Demand for middle management exists in highly specialized categories and in technology-enabled transformation and change management.
  • By estimates, less than 10% of procurement roles hired went to Employment Pass holders, many of which were internal hires.
  • Graduate hiring represents less than 5% of job moves, whilst a challenge for the industry this represent a huge opportunity.
  • Directs category hiring is catching up with previously more dominant Indirect category hiring (except for technology) with the candidate market in Directs typically being tighter.

Advice for Candidates

  • Embrace technology. To date, whilst not seemingly strategic in job content, technology can play a vital role in the executing of strategy that is equally important and will only increase in demand.
  • Getting ‘hands-on’ in the business. There is an increased need for Procurement professionals to understand the business and operations to drive uptake in process change, particularly enabled by technology.
  • Prepare for change. Singapore is widely recognised as a strategic hub where we are seeing dynamic change at a rapid rate bringing about new types of career opportunity.
  • Embrace and prepare for change by proactively seeking out skill development in areas of future demand. Be willing and flexible in your position in the business, be it geographically or where you directly report.
  • Future proof your skillset. In your next job move, seek out new skills, experience and exposure that will position you well for future job moves in a market that is rapidly evolving.
  • Consider future skill development in equal measure to an increased salary. Consider your career lifespan, not just the merits of the immediate job.

Advice for Clients

  • It’s a two-speed market in Singapore for procurement. Understanding the market for each position in your team can enable the most optimal retention, reward or recruitment process.
  • Millennial candidates are seeking out opportunities with businesses that are demonstrably sustainable and that embrace technology.
  • Candidates have access to an increasing amount of data before interviews on the company, the function and the hiring managers. This can be used as a gauge for interest in the role and company. Be mindful of your own and your businesses online footprint, candidates have open access to company reviews and turnover rates.
  • Prior to the geographic repositioning of roles in an alternative location in Asia, seek to understand the Procurement candidate market in these locations. Some countries are developing procurement capability at quicker rates than others.
  • Certain locations in South East Asia (such as KL) have seen a rapid growth of procurement, leading to significant skill gaps, high churn and increased salaries.
  • What is your organisation doing to engage the passive candidate market that makes up over 17% of the overall market?
  • Procurement in Singapore is generally not selling itself well to the graduate market, could this be open talent resource for your organisation?

*LinkedIn statistics drawn from an analysis of most common procurement job titles in Singapore.

Ben McDonald is a specialist procurement search and recruitment consultant working in the Singapore market for over six years and currently leads the Connexus Procurement & Supply Chain practice from Singapore.

Connexus Search is a specialist recruitment and search business for the value chain with offices in Singapore, Bangkok and Perth.

Ben McDonald


Consumer & Industrial Markets


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