Episode 16: Putting the Human Back into Hiring

By Katherine McCleery | February 22, 2021

According to Naseem Malik, sourcing talent is just as important as sourcing goods and services. After 15+ years in the procurement space, Naseem has been with MRA Global—an executive search firm that focuses on supply chain, procurement, and operations—for 8 years. 

Whenever someone says “We need to save money. We need to foster better supplier collaboration. We need to become better negotiators.” they stress that it’s all about the people. Everything is related to talent. It should be focus #1 for any sourcing organization looking to achieve its objectives. 

How does MRA Global do it? What do they look for in candidates? How do they put the human back into hiring? Learn more in this episode of The Sourcing Hero!

Listening Guide

[0:37] Naseem Malik with MRA Global

[1:55] What is MRA Global?

[3:35] How COVID impacted talent sourcing 

[7:05] What is a sourcing hero to Naseem?

[11:30] The “Walk on Water” candidate

[16:30] Embrace continuous learning

[22:33] Supply Chain Spark + Revitalize Your Career


How COVID impacted talent sourcing 

In Q1 of 2020, the US was in an unparalleled job market. Unemployment was only at 3.5% and there were a million more jobs than people available. The US had not seen such a tight labor market in decades. One quarter later and the US was entrenched in the worst job market in 70 years. It was an unprecedented swing.  

They got into Q2 and Q3 and hiring was put on hold across many sectors (retail, hospitality, CPG). Other sectors went through the roof (food, beverage, transportation, pharmaceuticals). Luckily, they had clients in the growing sectors that needed their help while waiting for the others to come back.

An inspiring leader is a sourcing hero

Based on the challenges of 2020, Naseem states that his perspective is simple: A sourcing hero is a leader that was able to navigate his or her team in a positive or uplifting manner (whether you lead a team, division, or whole organization). If you encouraged your teams through an unprecedented time and empathized with them while holding them accountable—you are a sourcing hero. 

The transportation, good, and even chemical industries worked with their teams. They worked through challenges. They were flexible. He heard countless stories and examples. By leading and inspiring your teams, you have gendered loyalty to your company that you may never have thought of. Empathizing and supporting them through challenges also ensures you don’t lose your vital talent. 

The “Walk on Water” candidate

Helping clients confront reality and realigning expectations is part of what you do when you’re sourcing talent. What does MRA Global look for in candidates? The “A Players” or “Purple Unicorns” is what everyone is looking for. Naseem wants “Walk on Water” (WOW) candidates. Naseem has identified a few traits as the common denominator for those WOW candidates. 

They need to understand the sourcing, the business, the technological aspect, etc. They must understand and be comfortable with the complexities of the data analysis. They have to work with the data and use the tools available. But Naseem has identified something far more important—soft skills.

He shares that “The best way that you will win over your stakeholders internally, the way you will collaborate effectively is by taking a bunch of data…and put it in a way that it makes sense and you gain buy-in across the organization.” Storytelling, collaborating, and building rapport and relationships—both internal and external—will only continue to grow in importance.

In short? A WOW Candidate must be able to analyze and empathize. 

Embrace continuous learning

Naseem believes that procurement must look at a career as a venture, business, or startup. Someone in procurement must build their expertise and their brand. Growth is achieved when the startup mentality is embraced. He shares that you can find ways to improve and understand risks. You won’t always have 100% of the data to make a decision. Have a plan for growing your skillset and confidence and stay abreast of opportunities to pivot. Be responsive and ready for those.

How do you do that? Learn. Naseem emphasizes that you have to take ownership of your career, brand, and learning. No one is waiting to tell you what to do. Take classes, read books, and network. Find ways to invest time in yourself. Hone in on your skills, craft, and your brand. Find a niche that interests you and hone in on it. Become an expert and find a way that it benefits your company and yourself. 

What else can you do? What are some resources that MRA Global has made available in the procurement and supply chain industry? Listen to learn more about sourcing talent.


Host: Katherine McCleery, Marketing Director

Special Guest: Naseem Malik, CPSM, Managing Partner, MRA Global

Additional Mentions: Supply Chain Spark | Revitalize Your Career

Connect With Us


Get new resources weekly!

Related Posts


Get in touch with one of Una's expert Sourcing Advisors.

You can also...

By submitting this information you are agreeing to our terms of participation.