Fine Tuning Your Career

Published: 14 March 2016

My daily commute to work is usually accompanied by a daily dose of BBC Radio 2 or BBC 5Live; listening to either the upbeat manner of Chris Evans or the more factual and occasionally irritable tones of Nicky Campbell. Without revealing my age, I grew up listening to both of these DJs who at the time plied their trade across on Radio 1.

This got me thinking about the critical importance of having a clearly defined career path, as their colleagues Simon Mayo and Steve Wright have also headed in the same direction. Whilst not every organisation needs to have a team of aspiring CPOs, it is essential that you allow time to sit back, analyse and understand where your career is heading – where do you see yourself in 5-10 years; a classic interview question.

Are you gaining the right sort of experiences in your current role or the role you are considering applying for? If you successfully get the position you are applying for and I am sat interviewing you 3 years from now, would the move have made sense from a career development perspective? What would you have learned and gained from the experience? It is extremely rare if not nigh impossible for an individual to join an organisation, progress up the ladder within the procurement team and reach the CPO position. Key skills and experience are frequently only gained by moving organisations, and indeed sectors, to give yourself a more rounded and enriched view of procurement and the wider business world.

This could take the shape of working across a diverse range of category areas, gaining experience across a multitude of industry sectors, developing your people management skills, working on a regional or global basis, or working abroad. Possibly for those of you striving for a CPO position, it may also prove fruitful to step out of the function for a period, perhaps into the operation, to enhance your appreciation of the impact of procurement across the business.  

Whatever your career aspirations are, it is important to reflect on where you are heading and make sure you take careful and logical steps along the way. I can recall on several occasions where clients have rejected candidates due to the fact that the role doesn’t appear to be a logical next step, or candidates fail to address convincingly that they have a career plan and this opportunity is a key stepping stone in terms of their development.

Working with your recruitment consultant in an honest, open and reflective manner will allow you to analyse your current skill set, where the gaps lie and to help shape the journey to allow you to reach you career goals.

I wonder if in a further 10 years having moved on from listening to BBC 2 I will be hearing Simon Mayo presenting Desert Island Discs or Jo Wiley on Woman’s Hour?

Richard Guest is a Consultant in the Procurement & Supply Chain Practice

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