What paths could take your procurement career to the next level?

Posted on January 28 , 2021. 
By Ben McDonald

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A career in Procurement is unique and rewarding, drawing on and developing an extremely broad range of skills – resulting in teams of highly versatile, skilled, and ambitious individuals continually seeking new challenges and opportunities.

In comparison with similar business functions, a Procurement career can fall short on opportunity at the executive level, inevitably leading to a surplus of great candidates in a lighter job market.

Throughout this article, I’ll be highlighting not only how you can work towards attaining a position as Head of Procurement, but also several less-frequently considered paths that draw on your skills as a procurement professional to deliver a fulfilling, challenging and rewarding career.

Head of Procurement (Function, Geography, or Commodity Set)

A typically competitive recruitment process, I have observed that those who obtain these positions are among the top echelon of performers in their profession at the given time an opportunity becomes available. These individuals typically have a visible profile within their business community and can demonstrate flexibility to meet the demands of the role.

This flexibility can take the form of willingness to relocate or availability for lateral moves which provide a broader platform for further future progression.

Typical Roles Include:

  • CPO
  • Head of Procurement
  • SVP
  • VP
  • Regional Head
  • Country Head
  • Head of Portfolio or Significant Commodity

Working for a Vendor (or Similar) in a Commercial or Sales Capacity

Senior Commercial or Sales roles are becoming a more popular career progression route for high-achieving Procurement professionals.

Many organisations place a high value on Procurement skills – particularly those who encounter robust procurement Procedures within their own sales cycle. In my own experience, I’ve seen Procurement talent successfully move into lucrative opportunities with IT Software/Hardware providers, Digital Consultancies, Corporate Real Estate, Marketing Communications, Commodities, and Industrial Equipment.

Typical Roles Include:

  • Client Services Director
  • CEO (SMEs)
  • Sales and Account Leadership
  • Commercial Leadership (Director – VP)
  • Business Development

Working for a Procurement Technology or Services Provider: Client-Facing Roles & Product Development

The maturation and increasing sophistication of the Procurement function over the past decade has led to the emergence and growth of organisations offering bespoke Procurement technology and consulting services.

SAP/Ariba, Coupa, PwC, Deloitte, Infosys, and CIPS are all examples of technologies at the forefront of innovation in Procurement.

Typical Roles Include:

  • Value Engineering
  • Client Services and Success Management (Technology)
  • Consulting (Principle – Director)
  • Business/General Management in Services organisations, such as in Training and Outsourcing

Working in a Stakeholder Function: Corporate Services, Marketing, Engineering, Supply Chain, IT, HR, Corporate Real Estate & PMO

As product and service sophistication develops at an increasingly rapid rate, organisations are learning to adapt quickly to understand new markets that often present uncharted commercial frameworks. Consequently, this has seen the need for increased commercial capability within other business functions.

Further, as Procurement cycles shift to and from centralised, centre-led, and decentralised structures, this presents opportunities for versatile Procurement professionals with a fluidity of skill sets to move across various corporate functions.

Typical roles may include:

  • CIO
  • Head of PMO
  • Head of Asset Management
  • CCO
  • Facilities Management
  • Marketing Management
  • Vendor Management


The varying and diverse options to grow your career discussed in this article are real observations from the recent career trajectories of my own network of procurement professionals.

To discuss the opportunities that exist within your Procurement career or business function, feel free to reach out.

Ben McDonald


Consumer & Industrial Markets


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