Who are the Employers of Choice for Today’s Procurement Leaders?

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Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Nick Lazzara of MRA Global Sourcing.

As a function, we’ve discussed at great lengths over the past couple of years how procurement has climbed up the corporate ladder to take on a more strategic role in many businesses. Although technology and a changing business landscape have undoubtedly increased the pace of this subtle shift, talented professionals have been the driving force behind it.

Also well documented are the difficulties in locating and enticing these gifted individuals. While most companies still find themselves struggling to find the right talent, a select few have sourcing leaders lining up to work for them.

In our last piece, we covered how companies can become an employer of choice for procurement superstars. In this article, we will share some of our findings on which organizations are the employers of choice for procurement today.

Most Desired Companies

In today’s procurement employment landscape, candidates are in the driver’s seat. Whereas during the economic downturn companies may have had their pick of the litter, today it’s the job seeker who is now often entertaining multiple offers and can afford to be selective. As the hyper-competitive talent market remains hot, this leaves most employers holding the short end of the stick.

A handful of organizations, however, consistently come up in our conversations with practitioners about who their dream employers are. These are typically companies that are renowned for world-class supply chain practices, innovative thinking or an overall company culture and messaging that procurement folks can’t help but feel attracted to. You know, the companies that have 100 applicants to a “Director Sourcing” opening within an hour of posting the ad on LinkedIn.

The company that comes up the most frequently as an ideal destination is Amazon, which comes as little surprise, as the e-commerce giant is redefining the supply chain makeup of countless industries, while turning those industries on their head in the meantime (look out, grocery). With explosive growth organically and through acquisition, an ambitious procurement leader at Amazon could, in theory, “have their cake and eat it too” with a buffet of desirable challenges like M&A due diligence, standing up sourcing groups, business process integration and more, with extremely high stakes and visibility. In other words, putting Amazon on your resume is sexy. Other organizations that often fall in this category are innovative blue-chippers like Apple, Google and Facebook, for similar and obvious reasons.

Another company that is often a list-topper is Unilever, although for different reasons than the previous ones. Unilever draws the admiration of many, including a procurement exec in transition we spoke with a few months ago, who described the reasons why: robust procurement group demonstrating best-in-class processes; strong sustainability sourcing practices; global presence and a sterling supply chain brand, as they were voted No. 1 on Gartner SC Top 25 Supply Chain list. Procter & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson also fit the bill here, with well-liked, reputable procurement groups that are the envy of other organizations.

Two other desirable, although outside the box, companies we’re often pointed to in the consumer-packaged goods (CPG) and food sectors are SC Johnson and J.M. Smucker. These organizations defy odds in nabbing top procurement talent in non-metro areas (Racine, Wisconsin, and Orrville, Ohio, respectively) by putting their best foot forward in other areas — namely, outstanding culture and treatment of employees, considerate career-pathing and world-class perks and benefits. While these companies hover in the $7 billion–$10 billion range, we’ve heard firsthand that they make their employees feel like family, and that attracts top-notch leaders. Chobani is another company cut of the same cloth, with a growing sourcing group people are excited to be a part of.

Job seekers have always told us they’re drawn to organizations that have award-winning leadership or are recognized for being function-wide centers of excellence for process, technology or talent. For instance, teams that won awards at Procurement Leaders annual World Procurement Awards, like Flex, Amcor and IBM, or procurement groups led by ISM Shipman award winners (UTC, DuPont, AT Kearney), a Supply Management lifetime achievement honor, always have job seekers beating down their doors.

Top Industries for Procurement 

While the aforementioned companies are a few of the top supply chain brands, we’ve also seen that certain industries are in high demand. Among these, we’ve seen the biggest increase of interest in the following industries:

Consumer Goods

For the past several years, we’ve seen significant growth in terms of the emphasis placed on building high-functioning procurement teams in the CPG sector. Many of our most exciting projects have been helping provide resources for large CPGs that were developing procurement groups from scratch or undergoing major facelifts in the function. This is an industry where we’ve seen a high prevalence of sourcing earning a seat at the leadership table, as the function works closely with all departments and has an ear to the consumer. Notable companies include Unilever, P&G, J&J, SC Johnson, Newell Brands, Colgate-Palmolive, Kimberly-Clark, Reckitt Benckiser, Under Armour and Nike.

Tech

Everyone wants to get into tech. That said, Silicon Valley is in dire need for procurement talent. Most tech companies have outsourced procurement to consulting/BPO firms to remain lean, although we’re seeing that trend let up a bit and more companies investing in internal resources. Notable tech targets include Apple, Google, Facebook, Samsung, Lenovo, Cisco, Microsoft, Tesla and Symantec.

Food and Beverage

If there’s one industry we’re assured will never go out of vogue, it’s eating and drinking. Even though consolidation continues to transform this sector, we still see robust interest from candidates who want to explore careers in with household names. Some high-interest companies include McDonald’s, Danone, Nestle, Kraft-Heinz, Mondelez, Chobani, Starbucks, PepsiCo, Diageo, Smucker, Tyson and MillerCoors.

Medical Devices/Pharma

In such high-impact industries, it’s no surprise the med device and pharma space are attractive to strategic sourcing folks. This is an area where we’ve seen major M&A activity, revenue growth and financing allotted toward developing top-notch supply chain functions to stand the test of intense regulations. Procurement leaders in this industry include Stryker, Zimmer Biomet, Covidien/Medtronic, Merck, Allergan, Teva and 3M.

Consulting Firms

Consulting has always been a target for ambitious procurement leaders and a place where a change agent can maximize the breadth of their impact. The industry remains the best way to get exposure to many verticals quickly, thus making it coveted. Top procurement targets in this industry include Accenture, AT Kearney, McKinsey, Bain, Denali, Source One Management Services, IBM and AlixPartners.

Lest we imply that only big names are getting all the top talent, we’d like to make clear that isn’t always the case. There are still plenty of “A players” that will be attracted to an opportunity that is either a greenfield environment within a company or an opportunity with a brand new startup. Word of mouth from peers and strong growth prospects will always be a strong draw and enable a healthy competition for procurement superstars.

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First Voice

  1. Steve Ighorimoto:

    Thank you for sharing this article.
    Indeed, procurement/supply chain professionals employers of choice today and the near future are those organizations that are best in class in deployment of technology,processes, people and resources that give sustainable astonishing results.

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