Tips to Advance Your Procurement Career

Earlier this month, over on Spend Matters, the prophet coined an article on 5 insider tips to make more money in Procurement which is quite interesting, and in the doctor‘s view, mostly on the money. According to the prophet, if you want to earn more money, you should:

  • Choose Your School Wisely
  • Take Advantage of Scholarship Programs
  • Become a Hacker
  • Start Out in Consulting
  • Learn the Language

the doctor certainly agrees whole-heartedly with 1, 3, and 5. 2 and 4 are good suggestions, but they are not necessarily always the right move. In order to explain, we’ll first discuss the tips that are always relevant, with a few slight modifications.

Choose Your Education Wisely

Maybe Sales and Marketing, which are led by MBAs*, which can be earned by any dummy while squatting on the toilet, only care about the name of the school (because it’s not like they actually learned anything in school anyway), but smart Procurement professionals — who realize that you have to analyze spend; do in-depth Kraljic, SWOT, and Kaplan & Norton analyses; develop detailed category strategies; build sophisticated cost (and optimization) models; negotiate detailed, risk mitigating, contracts with exit strategies, and execute. This requires a lot of knowledge, skill, and experience. And while experience cannot be taught, a good mentor will not be able to guide you if you do not have the skill, and foundational knowledge, to understand his teachings. It does not matter how good your sourcing sensei is if you are not ready to learn the lessons she is prepared to teach. So choose the right program in school, and the right continuing education or professional association after school as learning is a life-long process in Procurement.

Expand Your TQ

A hacker is someone who can do a heck of a lot more than use Access or a data mining tool. A heck of a lot more. However, in order to excel in Procurement, a Procurement professional needs to know a lot more than how to use Microsoft Office. Learn how to access public market data sources, how to use use open source or share ware data analysis tools to analyze data sets, how to apply basic statistics to a population to identify a distribution and appropriate pricing or sales trend algorithm, and get any hands on experience you can with best-of-breed operations research or Procurement platforms.

Learn the Lingo

It’s critical to not only learn the language of Procurement, but also the language of Finance. In order to be taken seriously by the C-Suite, you have to speak the language they understand, and that is Finance. Being able to talk in their language, which includes measurements like ROI, ROIC, RONA (which does not refer to the home-improvement chain), etc. gets their attention. It’s not just the language, because most multi-nationals use English as the official language, it’s the lingo.

Now onto the tips that are normally good, but sometimes iffy.

Take Advantage of Scholarship Programs

You want to search for these, but not all scholarships are beneficial. If they just give you cash, that’s great. If they connect you to a good network, that’s great. But if they require you to do an internship with a laggard company or, even worse, agree to work with that laggard company for two years upon graduation, that might not be the best deal.

Start Out in Consulting

the prophet thinks this is a good idea because a big-5 background or strategy firm background gives you a pedigree [that] can help with compensation. This is true, but great results can also get you a great compensation package. Maybe you’ll have to change jobs to get it, but, in Procurement, money talks, and the more you save, the more it talks. So, when deciding on your first job, take the job that will present you with the greatest opportunity to make a mark for yourself, which is not necessarily the job with the biggest name firm. But if all opportunities are equal, then it makes sense to go with the pedigree.

the doctor has deep disdain for many MBA programs, and many executive MBA programs in particular, that promise a lot but, in actuality, deliver very little. In other words, the doctor believes that educational program investigations should not be limited to, the now defunct, Trump University. (He understands why though. Trump is now a prominent figure, so it’s no surprise why the investigations are focused on an institution that he is connected with.)