"Whether you are recruiting on the outside or making internal assignments, look for a Spark, a point of difference. Nearly every procurement resume or LinkedIn profile talks to savings numbers: "Reduced costs by $x”. The numbers vary based on the size of the spend, but the same activity gets repeated again and again. While potentially impressive to the CFO, someone completely focused on that type of deliverable is going to struggle to think outside the box. They’ve been successful on a cost-focused approach, that’s what’s gotten them recognition so far, that’s what they’re going to do. No problem on Round One or Round Two of cost reductions, but harder to do over time.
If you want world class results, look for someone who’s done things differently. Maybe it’s a travel professional who hasn’t reduced travel spend much but within the budget has worked with travel service providers to vastly improve service. Or someone who helped with a new product launch by tapping into the know-how at a supplier. In fact, some of the best people to look for are those who can point to real benefits brought to their firm from the supplier community. Just like you, your suppliers are constantly looking at ways to improve their margins and grow their business. To the extent a procurement professional can tap into that brainpower, it expands greatly the number of ideas that can be brought forward to your own firm.
A former associate of mine convinced his company NOT to move forward on a project. Everyone up to the CEO was enamored of an idea, but this Procurement Director did a thorough analysis and convinced everyone that a different course of action was better. How many people would have just rolled over because a senior executive said to do something? He showed a spark by taking ownership and objectively assessing the options. That was a good example that he was willing to push for the right answer, not just an answer.
Someone who has some supply chain education can help you get to that world-class level . A Supply Chain professional will look not just at the cost improvements, but at process improvements as well – where there is often as much opportunity as there is in unit cost alone.
Finally, look for someone who shows evidence of continuing education. Whether it is a formal degree program or self-education through conferences, interacting with peers at other firms gives someone an opportunity to see what other people across multiple industries are doing – and their own companies are richer as a result."