CIPS President announces his theme for the year – all about people, and you can help

David Smith has now been CIPS President for two whole weeks, and I met with him the other day to discuss his Presidential theme in particular. There’s also a good feature in Supply Management this week on the topic which I’ll try not to duplicate too much.

He’s chosen what I think is a brilliant Presidential theme and one that could get some traction and even actually have a tangible effect. Most Presidential themes don’t, to be brutally honest – anyone remembers last year’s? Or mine in 2003? (Frankly, I don’t remember myself).

But David is determined that this year will be different and he has the combination of drive, contacts, personality and management ability to actually make it happen.

His theme is encouraging people into the procurement profession, and the beauty of it is that it hits a number of current “hot buttons”. It is obviously vital for our profession that we encourage talented youngsters to choose procurement rather than marketing, finance, or golf course management as a career.  And as we know, many of the best senior people in the profession came in after a period in other functions, so mid-career entry is also something to consider and encourage.

Then there is the more general promotion of the profession. Getting out into schools and higher education establishments will build the profile even amongst people who don’t actually join the us. I like the sound of a competitive buying game for schools and colleges – as long as it has some link with reality!

But the most interesting angle to this initiative to my mind is around the much wider economic situation, and this is where his theme plays so well to his day job as Commercial Director at the Department of Work and Pensions.

“I want to see what we can do to give people who are struggling to find work a chance” he says.  Of course, as he acknowledges, real jobs are the ideal, “but there are things we can do around apprenticeships or work experience that can really help people”.

For instance, I knew about the various apprenticeship type ideas, but not a new scheme that enables unemployed people to accept a 4-week work experience placement without losing their benefits. That sounds like a great idea, which gives people experience of work and something to put on their cv, and shouldn’t be too onerous for many organisations to offer.  There are also things that senior practitioners can do around offering mentoring to people around careers and employment.

But all this will only work if lots of professionals actually DO something. We’ll keep you up to date here with progress, and I hope David Smith will write something for us personally as we get into the year.

He’s also asked Shirley Cooper (CIPS President in 2010) and I, under conditions of extreme duress in the Westminster Arms, to support him directly on his theme. I’m very happy to do so, and I’ve promised one day a quarter of my time, free of charge of course, to do – well, whatever he wants in terms of mentoring, speaking to students, whatever. Spend Matters, small though we are, will also look at whether we can do anything around work placements or experience as well.

So, if every senior practitioner could give even a day each over the next year, then the Presidential theme would really come to life and have real benefits.  We’ll be featuring more on this, and although it is easy to be cynical, I agree with David – “we can make a real difference to people’s lives”.

A big claim – but if the profession gets behind this, it could actually be justified.

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Voices (2)

  1. David Atkinson:

    I’d be very happy to give some time to this.

    Keep me posted.

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