4 ways that sustainability can truly advance your procurement career

The role of procurement in the maritime industry is changing. Part of it is to do with the focus on sustainability. And you've got to move with it to stay ahead of the game....
4 ways that sustainability can truly advance your procurement career

Procurement is evolving. Constantly. And anyone working in the sector needs to change with it. That’s the focus in 2015.

With ever-increasing competition, customer expectations at an all-time high and a growing awareness of sustainability and the environment, departments are finding that working in the same traditional way is taking its toll.

The expected lifetime of a product, on average, is becoming shorter, while supply chain length is increasing by the minute. Businesses are also expanding their geographic reach, and that can cause issues to arise, as we all know. Plus the probability of supply chain delays are high than ever, and so is the visibility.

Professionals working in procurement who have taken on responsibilities in supply chain sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR) are now gaining valuable skills to tackle these relatively modern problems. And chief procurement officers are looking for individuals who can meet their demands.

Here, we look at four ways in which the gaining skills in sustainability can give your career a lift.

1: It teaches collaboration

Working with sustainability in mind means you have to be able to collaborate. To face new challenges in 2015 and beyond, procurement professionals will have to work in a cross-functional way. This means formulating key partnerships.

A recent survey by e-procurement provider, Ivalua showed that 83 percent of procurement executives or department heads said that the creation of partnerships with other business units should be a priority.

Having a collaborative work ethic means that procurement professionals will need strong team building skills as well as good networking skills, both internal and externally.

2: It makes you more entrepreneurial

Sustainability is relatively new to the shipping world, and indeed, the procurement department. That’s why sometimes you have to make your own way.

When it comes to developing new partnerships or purchasing new products with sustainability in mind, thinking like an entrepreneur can be helpful. And so can having what is called a 'lifecycle view'. This means to practise good product stewardship.

This approach allows professionals to be innovative; a key challenge in today’s procurement world. Looking at what the customer needs, while also considering the environmental and technical issues is a great skill to have as it improves efficiency and reduces cost.

Professionals with this skill set will bring value to new procurement projects and give a fresh perspective. And just like an entrepreneur, having the skill to be flexible and adapt to change is crucial to furthering your career.

3: It allows you to work on business-driven relationship development

In its “Procurement Predictions 2015” series, Spend Matters lists ‘innovation’ as one of the key areas of growth for the sector.

While internal procurement activities may generate savings, they rarely generate ideas. Taking sustainability and CSR into account, procurement professionals need to look outside the box. Despite there not being a precedent for innovation in the supply chain or with the supplier, in this changing business environment there needs to be a little bit of creativity.

Supplier innovation in particular is key, and this is something procurement teams who have taken on sustainability and CSR responsibilities know all too well. Having a good understanding of the business and how roles within and outside the company need to change will stand any professional in good stead for their future.

4: It encourages a focus on sustained profitability

For many years, it has been a tradition of chief procurement officers (CPOs) to focus on cost reduction as the number one priority for business. But this is not enough anymore.

With the globalisation of business has come the need to look more at growing revenue over saving money. Sustained profitability is the key, not spend management. With this new focus comes a need for procurement professionals to look at the bigger picture, particularly where CSR and sustainability are involved.

So while the company you currently work for may not focus on CSR or sustainable procurement, developing skills in this area is invaluable for your career.

Want to find out more about CSR for shipping companies? Visit the IMPA ACT website.

The International Marine Purchasing Association is also launching a new distance-learning course in Maritime Supply Chain Management, which, in part, covers corporate social responsibility. Get all the details here.  

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by Laura Stackhouse

readmt.com Editor

Laura Stackhouse is the Web Editor of readmt.com, an official publication of the International Marine Purchasing Association (IMPA). To discuss news, features or contributing to readmt.com please get in touch.

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