At The Mpower Group, we do a lot of training for Procurement / Sourcing / Category Management / Supply Chain groups. One of the opening exercises we like to do is to ask the participants three questions:
- When you were a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
- When you entered your post high school education, what career did you envision for yourself?
- How did you end up in your current position?
Interestingly enough, almost NO ONE sought out a career in Procurement / Sourcing, et al in either number one or two above. I, too never imagined I’d be doing anything close to what I am doing today. So, how did I / you end up here? I have a few thoughts so please bear with me 😊
When I entered college, it was to major in Fashion Merchandising – my dream job was to run a high-end fashion retailer. One of my first courses was Accounting which I loved and quickly decided to double major. Upon graduation I ended up in public accounting and followed a Finance career. I had a number of roles over the years, some I loved, and others were just OK. But one common thread for me was always raising my hand to do something different or take on a project that no one else wanted to do. With each role / project I learned something that I was able to take to that next role.
My last role in pure Finance was as a business unit CFO for a global bank. During that stint, I was asked to lead a Strategic Sourcing Initiative after a very large merger of equals. It was the SINGLE best move I ever made, and it was career changing for me. I never imagined a job, let alone a career in Procurement but I have loved every minute of it. While I loved Finance, I always felt dissatisfied by simply reporting results as opposed to really impacting them which I have been able to do through my work in Strategic Sourcing / Category Management. But I would have never discovered this passion without exploring other avenues to where my skills and talent could take me.
I do quite a bit of mentoring of college seniors in my role as a Board Chair of my alma mater. I am always asked to provide career advice to soon-to-be recent grads. My response is always the same:
- volunteer for everything
- make yourself invaluable to your boss / team because this will serve you well
- take on challenges outside of your comfort zone because you never know where they will lead
- be a life-long learner (every new challenge is an opportunity to pick up a new skill)
- work hard but take care of yourself (mental health is a big issue today)
- surround yourself with people that are smarter than you
- be kind to everyone and welcome / embrace diversity
Most of us are accidental Procurement / Sourcing / Change Management professionals. I started in this profession over 20 years ago and I have NEVER been bored. Today, more that ever (and I have said this multiple times over the last 20+ years) the skill set we have to offer is highly coveted and our contribution to the bottom line is REAL and tangible. If you go back to the original three questions, I hope it makes you smile. While this may not have been your planned destination, it’s really a pretty cool place to be.
Let us know what you think and join in the conversation . . . . . . .
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