13 for 2013: Sourcing and Procurement Talent Observations (Part 2)

Please click here for Part 1 of this series.

Continuing on with our thirteen procurement talent observations and tips as we head into 2013, we come to item number seven.

7. Look for "desperate housewives" who can whip up a mean RFQ. In all non-politically correct seriousness, there is a great arbitrage on women in procurement who want family flexibility but not the consultant or standard travel career path that they were in previously before kids. If you can deal with part-time or work-from-home employees (or those in remote geographies) with minimal travel, thirty and forty something women that have opted for something in between the mommy and corporate executive track in procurement can be absolutely ideal candidates (often with better skills and knowledge than traditional candidates provided you're willing to give them the flexibility required).

8. Consider hiring those closer to suppliers – not just headquarters. Skype, GoToMeeting and other technologies have become ubiquitous for conferencing with internal teams. Use the new digital age as a chance to get employees where you really should have them – as close to suppliers as possible.

9. Recruit on-campus. Take the lead from many top performing procurement organizations and consultants by looking at both undergrads and MBAs from both top-tier programs (e.g., Ivys) as well as the better-known procurement/supply chain graduate programs. For example, an economics or engineering undergrad from Cornell or Penn might bring a level of raw talent and horsepower that experienced hires, except expensive top-tier senior ones, do not.

10. Internship programs work, especially if there is a path to long-term employment for the right candidates. If you're recruiting on-campus, considering establishing an internship program for undergrads and MBAs.

11. Create a shared knowledge back-office in a lower cost region. For example, look at the models of Beroe and Smart Cube and consider creating a similar model yourself (or hiring one of these types of providers if you don't have the scale to do it). 5-10 senior resources in Central Europe or Bangalore focused on category and market intelligence, risk analysis, commodity management and related areas can create tremendous scale and leverage for your team. Why not take the lead from how McKinsey does much of their consulting (relying on offshore resources doing much of the heavy lifting including research to complement on-shore teams)?

12. "Free agent nation" is not all that it's cracked up to be in procurement, yet "contractors by choice" do exist and good/expert talent can be had in the $1,000-1,500/day range (which consultancies resell at $2,500+). We know a number of consultants that pay folks a fair (if not cheap) day rate as contractors only to mark it up significantly in either a consulting or contingent staffing model (in the latter case, often with additional benefits including bringing firm IP, however). Why not take some of these firms out of the equation and find these part-time or full-time contractors yourself?

13. Consider spending more on specialized procurement recruiting firms that focus exclusively on procurement and related supply chain searches. While there is a trend away from the most expensive types of search in general in the executive ranks of the overall Global 2000 market, we're actually seeing the opposite among top performing firms, which do not have a strong internal talent management and recruiting capacity in- house when it comes to procurement.

- Jason Busch

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