Do You Know the Difference Between Strategic Sourcing & Category Management?  How Did You End up in Procurement / Sourcing/ Category Management?   


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:

  1. When you were a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
  2. When you entered your post high school education, what career did you envision for yourself?
  3. 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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