Charles Dominick of Next Level Purchasing – today’s Procurement Provocateur

Charles Dominick (seen here with the first recipient of the SPSM2 award) founded the Next Level Purchasing Association (NLPA) in 2000 after some years in procurement management roles, and since then has developed the SPSM family of professional certificates. The firm has now provided on-line training and professional certification to procurement people in over 150 countries.

In building the business, Dominick has certainly stirred up the traditional Institute based model for education certification, which in itself is enough to make him a worthy procurement provocateur for our interview series!


When did you decide procurement was for you?

I am probably not the usual procurement person in that I took a conscious decision to start my career in procurement. I took a class in purchasing management at college, not expecting to like it, but then really enjoyed it. By the last day of that class I had decided on procurement as a career rather than sales or marketing. I liked the idea of negotiation, the win / lose angle, and the opportunity to save money and make a real contribution, day in day out.

My parents were frugal by nature but always looked to buy quality, so I think I inherited some of that view - which seemed to suit the procurement world as well.

Who has been the biggest influence on your career?

I worked for several organisations before I set up NLP – including the University of Pittsburgh and US Airways – and I think every boss I had in my early years of procurement influenced who I've become. Even when I didn't agree with them they all contributed to my development. But my professor in college, Dr William Presutti at Duquesne University, was the person who first got me on that procurement route.

 How did you become a successful procurement professional?

I worked as a practitioner for several companies before I founded NLP. The most valuable was two years at US Airways. A small group of us were taken on as potential “future leaders” in procurement and worked in rotation across four different areas within procurement over two years. They were real jobs, but it condensed so much experience into a short period of time, and I loved getting that wide spread of procurement activities and skills. That gave me the confidence to set up NLP and look at helping others develop their careers.

What advice would you give a young procurement professional?

Thinking of my US Airways experience, I would advise anybody who wants to be successful to “look outside their own Inbox” and get a feel as early as possible for what the entire procurement function and indeed the wider business is all about.

I may not be typical as I always had an entrepreneurial streak - even at college I thought I would be head of my company one day. It was just a case of finding the right idea. But for any young professional I think to be open to learning is the best advice. However you do it, whether it is using our NLP online courses or other routes, you should always keep learning. There is a body of knowledge in procurement that is extensive now and still growing, so you can learn from the experience from others and from formal training courses and education.

 Why should organisations care about procurement?

One way I look at this, is to ask what would happen if procurement was done terribly badly in the organisation? What would happen if goods and services simply didn't turn up? What would happen to margins if we didn't get value for money in what we buy? What about the wider corporate and human values - the problems of human trafficking, pollution and so on?

If the organisation is okay with all this, then fine, they shouldn't take procurement seriously. But if they see the importance of these issues, then they really do need to care about procurement.

 Where is procurement going?

I believe that corporate social responsibility is emerging as a critical factor for corporations and procurement functions. I think it will become a major criteria in selecting suppliers, perhaps even more important than price. Organisations either voluntarily or through legislation will end up spending their money in a way that doesn't conflict with these key values and principles. And visibility of what organisations are doing will increase, adding to the pressure on them to do the right thing – this will apply through the whole supply chain, however many different tiers there might be.

This all suggests that procurement and supply chain management must have a much greater focus on these issues. Perhaps not surprisingly given what I've just said, NLP is introducing new course material shortly covering exemplary practice in corporate social responsibility!

Many thanks to Charles Dominick for his time and input and we look forward to seeing the new CSR material in the autumn.



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  1. Isaac Natukunda.:

    I wish to be like him

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