The Unbeatable Spend Management Skill Set

This morning, I caught up with an old colleague and friend in the Spend Management world who focuses on recruiting executive talent on all sides of the business (which gives her somewhat of a unique perspective on hiring trends). She's supervised procurement, operations, and supply chain executive searches on the vendor, consultant, and practitioner sides of the Spend Management world. Our conversation went in many directions, but I'll summarize some of the most salient ideas we discussed, as well as some hiring trends I've observed of late:

1) There's a fast emerging need on all sides of the business (practitioners and consultants) for those with a combination of lean, procurement, and global sourcing experience. But there are very few candidates to meet the current demand levels. Often positions will go unfilled for months, as hiring managers realize that the talent they're after is much harder to find than they thought.

2) Most hiring managers don't have a clue what it costs to get someone with a talent set that includes lean, procurement, and global sourcing. Many think they can pick up someone in the US with this background for between $120-$150K per year (at the Manager / Director level) but they often find that this amount is just the ante to get someone with strong talent in one or two of the areas, let alone all three. VPs that have all three skill-sets are in very, very high demand, and few exist. In other words, they can write their own ticket in both industry and consulting, as can anyone with this particular skill set, even if they're early in their Spend Management career.

3) The salaries in the consulting and practitioner worlds continue to get closer together. Top procurement and supply chain practitioners are now earning as much (or at least close to the same amount) that consultants do at the major firms, but are also expected to travel nearly as much as they would in consulting.

4) To improve their marketability, practitioners with strong sourcing and procurement skill sets should actively pursue lean and Six Sigma training. As I noted above, this combined skill set is in significant demand. At the same time, it's worth the extra travel required to get experience on the global sourcing side. The combination of these skill sets is impossible to beat, and someone who invests the time to develop capabilities in all of these areas could greatly increase -- and sometimes double -- their compensation in a matter of years.

This is further evidence that the time is right to be in the Spend Management world! You can read a couple of my previous posts on the subject here and here.

Jason Busch

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