Deloitte’s View: Attracting and Developing the Right Procurement Talent


Spend Matters is continuing to feature excerpts from Deloitte’s recently published paper Procurement Talent Management: Exceptional Outcomes Require Exceptional People, along with our own commentary on the ideas presented in the analysis. Today we explore Deloitte’s views on how to attract the right set of talent into procurement.

Leading procurement functions are aggressively recruiting strong leadership candidates from universities. Businesses are offering attractive compensation and touting the multidisciplinary nature of working in procurement and supply chain. In the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry, sell-side brand/category managers are often future business unit presidents and CEOs. Buy-side category managers essentially run their own mega-category akin to an entire services business.

Industry hot buttons can help attract strong internal
 and external talent. Industries such as technology
 can draw people interested in a broad spectrum of value creation including innovation, external capacity building, sustainability and sales and marketing support. Procurement can become known as a leadership proving ground.

A detailed needs assessment, diligent resume review and an extensive interview process have delivered a promising hire. Now what? The next step is to enable and develop talent to succeed. Many progressive procurement functions are hiring talent from internal stakeholder groups and top suppliers; the specific skills these high performers possess can be augmented with procurement-specific knowledge sharing and training.

Training is important to help instill knowledge areas across the wide array of procurement competencies. A “train and do” experiential approach can build confidence in procurement staff, while delivering self-funded benefits to the business.

The CPG example is a fascinating one to consider given the skills for brand/category management for those “selling” in that market are not at all dissimilar from those who will purchase categories (e.g. marketing) in a similar business. Beyond this, the ability to play to the “hot button” items as Deloitte describes them to get the right talent in in the front door is also key.

After all, if talent is coming from the outside – or in certain cases, even the inside – of a company and is not being proactively recruited (a scenario that is not often the case with more junior roles), then if someone does not show their interest by entering the recruiting process, we’ll never know they were there. And the last I checked, for those who are unfamiliar with the function, procurement still lacks the general awareness for recruits as such areas as finance, marketing, consulting or software development.

Managing procurement talent is about nature and nurture, skills and disposition. Just as top salespeople may not make good sales managers, a strong negotiator may not fit well as a supplier manager, internal relationship manager, or continuous improvement leader. Talent management can help reduce such mismatches. For example, enterprise-level talent processes such as behavioral assessments can help identify procurement talent with important traits.

A cautionary note: it’s important for procurement talent to possess soft skills and self-awareness. A procurement leader from manufacturing may not be a good cultural fit in a financial services organization, and vice versa.

First Voice

  1. Meggy Sin:

    Agreed and thank you!

    In additional, international experience and ethic & integrity are also very important!

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