Does Your Procurement Team Have the "WOW" Factor?

By Hugo Britt | September 30, 2021

Attracting and recruiting top talent should be the number one focus for any sourcing organization committed to achieving its long-term objectives.

Whether the goal is driving innovation, cutting costs, fostering supplier collaboration, becoming better negotiators, implementing sustainability initiatives, or embarking on a digital transformation, your team’s ultimate success starts and ends with the people on it.

We’ve gotten some expert advice on the importance of building highly skilled and diverse procurement teams in two recent episodes of The Sourcing Hero podcast.

Does your procurement team "shimmer?"

It’s becoming increasingly common to see professionals enter the world of procurement from a range of different backgrounds and industries. Amanda Prochaska believes that people looking for a change are enthralled by the exciting opportunities a career in procurement has to offer, but she is especially committed to attracting more women to the profession.

As well as supporting promising college graduates and young professionals, Amanda is keen to inspire women from other industries, such as HR and marketing, to build better perspective, diversity, and inclusion within the procurement profession. “There are some fantastic roles open in procurement today,” she says, “and I’m very excited to see where our profession goes in the next couple of years.”

Global Women Procurement Professionals (GWPP)

GWPP has been running several initiatives to help empower women in procurement. In March, which marks both Women’s History Month and Procurement Month, women in procurement – and anyone else who wanted to get involved – were encouraged to “get their shimmer on.”

“This initiative was an opportunity to reflect on where we’ve been over the past year, what type of value we’ve been able to add, and what type of value we can add in the future,” Amanda said. “It celebrates all the wonderful women that we have in procurement today but it’s also a moment to uplift each other, talk about the tough topics, and discover where we could be supporting each other more effectively. It’s a great way to stop, pause, reflect, and build.”

So what’s the meaning behind get your shimmer on? While Amanda confessed to wearing a sparkly top while we recorded the podcast, her initiative is about a lot more than aesthetics.

“The GWPP mascot is a hummingbird,” she explains. “With more than 365 different species of hummingbird in existence, it’s the perfect symbol for diversity. They’re also very powerful, with some of these tiny birds capable of flying for more than 300 miles at a time.” As Amanda puts it, they’re beautiful and they can also be unexpected. 

“Aptly, a group of hummingbirds is called a shimmer so there’s a lot of meaning behind that word that the GWPP likes to embrace. Imagine a group of hummingbirds all being together and how beautiful that is.”

Can we build a sense of community within women in procurement, uplift them, have them have a little bit more swagger?

Amanda has also been speaking to women in procurement over the past several months to gain insights on what they need most and how they are feeling. “One thing we heard loud and clear is that [women in procurement] want true interaction and the opportunity to build new relationships.”

To cater to this, Amanda has been working to facilitate meaningful interactions via LinkedIn Lives and Clubhouse chats. “We’re also doing stuff for women-owned or women-led suppliers because we know that if women in the supply base aren’t supported, we’re all impacted.”

Does your procurement team have the "WOW" factor?

Naseem Malik has a strong background in procurement, but he readily admits that sourcing talent is the most challenging thing he has ever done. “Nothing’s harder than humans,” he says.

Naseem’s global executive search firm, MRA, recruits for the supply chain, procurement, and operations industries, and is committed to finding the walk-on-water, or “WOW” candidates – a term coined by Naseem himself. 

“When we’re in the process of assessing and evaluating talent with our clients, helping them to confront reality and align their expectations is a top priority,” he says. “Contrary to what people think, an abundance of labor does not mean that there is not a scarcity of talent – the ‘A’-players, the purple unicorns, or the WOW candidates.”

"WOW" traits

Nonetheless, Naseem notes that there are a few common denominator traits for these outstanding candidates.

“From a technical perspective, candidates must understand sourcing, the technological aspect of the business, and be extremely comfortable with data analysis and the role that plays in everything we do. But soft skills are becoming increasingly important. Can this person come in and not just collaborate with our stakeholders but also story-tell effectively?”

Naseem believes that winning over key stakeholders requires an ability to take a bunch of data and articulate its meaning in a way that makes sense. In doing so, procurement will secure buy-in from stakeholders across the entire organization, and not just from their peers. ‘”Storytelling, collaborating, and building relationships – both internally and externally – are continuing to grow in importance.”

As Naseem admits, these attributes are subjective, and it’s not easy to assess if somebody has them. But they are skills that can be taught and honed over time. 

Does your procurement team want to stay?

With approximately 40% of professionals are planning to change jobs this year, it’s worth looking into whether or not your procurement team wants to stay working for your organization.

Some are re-examining their goals or responding to a virtual working environment, and others are trying to ensure their time is spent in a fulfilling career. The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted employees’ mindsets and in a lot of places, it’s no longer expected that you sit at your desk in the office from 9-5 every day. How will organizations attract and retain talent now that remote work has become the norm and people are realizing they have options when it comes to their career?

Greg Tennyson, SVP of Strategy and Procurement at Fairmarkit, says, “We need to invest in the talent and make sure that they have the soft skills necessary to be truly effective in a hybrid model, distributed workforce model. I think how a company onboards and is able to retain new talent into the organization, and also, maybe the larger issue is how they retain their talent today, given the distributed workforce model, will be very telling.”

Technology will play a pivotal role in keeping employees connected and engaged, too. “Technology is an enabler and how it makes that transition easier, those collaborative tools, the technology that they use to do their job, how they engage with the business. Not having the hallway conversation, the water cooler conversation, or sitting next to somebody will be different. And in my mind, it needs to play out through technology, coupled with the soft skills in order to retain talent, develop talent,” Greg says.

Listen to more episodes of The Sourcing Hero podcast and get more insight and advice from leading procurement and supply chain experts here.

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