Calling CIPS, calling ISM, calling potential for-profit training companies: procurement needs something like this, which the NYT called out in Dealbook today. What is this you ask? It’s “specialized boot camps” for recent graduates where “fees that sometimes exceed $1,000 a day” to enable “would-be masters of the universe [to] perfect Excel modeling techniques and financial analysis.”
The need for such intensive tutoring is clear – even for those who supposedly studied these techniques in school. As a “senior loan syndication banker at a European bank, describing his recent interviews of newly minted M.B.A.’s in New York,” quoted in the article notes:
“I just want someone who can really use Excel and PowerPoint.”
Don’t we all!
As someone who personally went through on-the-job-training in consulting in the finer arts of Excel and PowerPoint – rather than relying on anything I learned in undergrad or grad school – I can vouch for the fact that most graduates today, even those from top schools, lack the quick-hit and expert skills to build models, presentations and (and storylines) when they’re newbies.
This still holds true in banking and consulting. It’s also is the case in procurement and supply chain. Yet is there a market for truly expert crash courses in the finer arts of pivot tables and modeling? If there’s money on the line, there certainly is! As the Times suggests, “When millions of dollars can be won or lost on one calculation, firms are finding it essential that their new hires can tell the difference between a pivot table and a header row.”
Whether it’s an M&A deal or a big sourcing negotiation involving multi-tier bid analysis and supplier nominated alternative specifications, I’d argue that most people enter both the finance and procurement professions without the surprisingly similar quantitative skills needed to be most effective from day one. This includes not only building financial models – who cares whether they’re accretion/dilution models or total cost models – or telling a story through numbers.
Unlike raw analytical ability that can’t be taught overnight in a highly intensive manner, if ever, quantitative modeling and analysis techniques can, especially if we’re dealing with the right caliber of graduate (which we increasingly are for procurement and supply chain in top organizations). But such training must be intense. As one recent Columbia Business School graduate quoted in the story notes, “An eight-hour crash course on leveraged buyouts … was so intensive that it kind of makes you want to slit your wrists.”
The question is: is ISM, CIPS or others up to the challenge of delivering truly intense boot camps for new grads entering the profession? The slit-your-wrists kind?
There’s a market for it. I know there is. And if traditional institutions don’t step in, someone else will.
After all, just as the CFA Institute – the organization that grants the coveted (and hard to get) CFA designation over multiple years requiring a course of study that is much harder than anything like the CPSM, and has a recent completion rate of less than 15% – has ceded this crash-course financial modeling training to private sector firms, perhaps the procurement and supply chain industries will as well.