Challenges and Opportunities in SCM and Procurement Careers

I have been in the purchasing profession for almost 10 years now and one of my strong reason is to break the ceiling of analytical know-how and influence beyond the engineering or technical sphere.

As noble as this vision may be it has not been easy on my part given the status of procurement function within the industry at the time and having to chose procurement over engineering in which I had obtained a degree, and it’s heartbreaking sometimes that veteran procurement professionals are not playing their role model responsibilities in this profession, I understand a lot of veterans play their part in supporting and guiding new entrants as part of their job function but veteran procurement professionals need to break these boundaries and reach out to any new entrant in the profession in order for this profession to reach it’s deserved status amongst the choice profession within the industry.

Procurement and Supply Chain Management as an umbrella function has strong incentives for any new graduate of diverse background, the opportunity to develop strong communication skills, project management and client facing skills,the exposure to diverse industries, Manufacturing ,Public Sector, Oil and Gas, Engineering and Construction, Minning, Healthcare, Lifescience,Technology etc. The 2014 Annual salary survey conducted by CSCP,Canadian Supply Chain Professional reported average wage of $85,178 for SCM professionals.

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Despite the attractiveness,the strength and incentives of supply chain and procurement career,we are still faced with the issues of recognition at the least, given we gained relevance on the back of the economy meltdown of 2008, professionals at the leadership level still struggle to gain access to the C-level hierarchy in many organisations. I know many articles have exhausted these challenges hence I will focus on the “grassroot” challenges. As a professional in the industry I have had to explain what I do to accountants,project and technical managers at network functions and if you’ve had this experience you have probably been faced with such condescending statement like “ yeah, you buy stationeries,furnitures etc”, on many occasions I had to hold my head high and explain what procurement function does in an organisation and complement this with the fact that I do capital purchases and services like remotely operated vehicles (ROV), marine vessels and offshore maintenance vessels that runs into hundred of thousands of dollars daily rent. It’s not to say that anything is wrong with the purchase of indirects and stationeries but procurement and supply chain function being misunderstood at this “grassroot level” is a bellwether for the relevance and recognition of the function at industry level and I have no doubt this “ignorance” gets escalated to formal meetings with clients on daily interactions at work. One of my clients at a meeting where we were discussing options for sourcing a capital equipment has mentioned to me in a condescending manner , “Abbey you know this is not like we are buying furniture”.

I consider all procurement and supply chain management practitioners,veterans,suppliers as key stakeholders in the industry and we all have that responsibility to elevate the supply chain management function hence my idea of SupplyProjects as a platform that will give all the mentioned stakeholders the opportunity to share and discuss with the industry what you do, you purchase what equipment ,buy product or services or you are involved in projects or you have a request for proposals,quotes etc. You will be able to share your experience with others and also connect with colleagues or potential SCM entrants that can benefit from mentorship and your guidance as a practitioner,my call is to all practitioners irrespective of your years of experience,your involvement will surely make a difference.

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At this critical time for supply chain relevance we need not keep quite about the value that we contribute to organisation’s competitive advantage either through sourcing strategy,policies,technology implementation, continuous improvement or other projects you are involved with as the SCM specialist.

Do not hesitate to share your experience if my SCM story resonates with you or not,you may also share your experience if you have a different opinion,I have started and also have linkedin and facebook groups created for this purpose, at the least you can share or like my post. Do not be the weak link in the most important supply chain – the global supply chain of procurement and project management expertise.

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