Hello everyone! As you are experts in purchasing, I need your opinion.
What is the best choice for starting a career in purchasing : joining a consulting firm (big four (EY/KPMG..), etc.) in operations (purchasing & supply chain) or joining a company in procurement/purchasing department ? (Please feel free to check my profile and give me your feedback). Thank you for your time. Laurie
I would start out in a FT procurement role before moving to a consultant position. There are so many aspects and nuances to supply chain, it would be extremely difficult to be effective as a consultant without that basis.
Having worked with outside consultants while in a FT procurement role, there is a very obvious differentiation between consultants who know their stuff versus those who are regurgitating that which they've been trained on/only have book knowledge on which to draw. Having worked with a few of the latter, it's not only painful as the client but contributes to a negative reputation for the consultant who in all likelihood is doing their best with limited experience. On the flip side, building your foundation and skills toolbox first will make you a much more effective consultant.
I started in the procurement profession as a consultant, not for the big 4 but with a niche player. I'd say the experience was invaluable, as you are immersed in procurement attitudes & approaches right across numerous industries, cultures, locations, personalities etc. Consultancies are all about trying to practice and embed the latest cutting edge procurement leadership, which can be a very exciting environment to be in. However there may well be a 'sink or swim' philosophy, particularly with the big 4 who have no end of other candidates lined up to take your space, so don't expect too many hands to hold onto. Nevertheless the training and development plans are usually very robust and rapid.
Working in a FT procurement role in a company will give you valuable 'on the ground' procurement experience, though I'd hesitate to say that your learning curve would be much more gradual. You might well face the adage, "we've done it this way for years, so why should we change it now?" attitude, which can be demoralising. That said there are plenty of fantastic procurement departments out there who extend deep into their organisation with a supported remit to do a great job, so make sure you tap up one of these companies if that is the route you go down.
When engaging with any of the big 4, I could never take seriously anyone who was under 30 who called themselves a consultant. Focus on gaining invaluable experience preferably in the private sector where you may be given the opportunity to take responsibility for a category of products. This includes negotiating, strategic sourcing and supply chain management. Avoid working in an environment where you are subordinate to either finance or legal or where process overrides initiative. Always go for the job where there is long term advantage and not just for the money. When you eventually become a consultant you need credibility for without it you will never be taken seriously. Become professionally qualified and engage in a good CPD programme. Good luck.
Hello, this is a good time for a career in public procurement. I came up the ranks in public procurement. Although I started as a financial analyst, I quickly became involved in contract negotiations. My exposure to large, complex projects gave me an advantage over many of my counterparts in other orgsnizations. Yes, there are always those that say "it's the way it's been done" but there are also people willing to listen to new ideas, which is how I had a chance to develop and implement new ways of doing things. Some have been institutionalize dandy still exist many years after I move to other agencies.
There is no substitute for hands on experience. Once you gain that experience, you may have more choices.
All the best in achieving your goals.
I think you'll learn more in a purchasing dept than at a consultancy - as a consultant you'll drop in, give your advice, cash the cheque then disappear to the next commission without getting involved in the nitty gritty of purchasing and without ever really having to establish a relationship with stakeholders or suppliers.
I would suggest that if you apply for a job in a purchasing dept, then you try the private sector rather than the public sector from the start - its far easier to move from private to public than vice versa, so doing it this way round will give you more options.
Lots of great advice here already. I faced a similar choice not long ago and went to intern for Procurious, which was awesome! I then avoided that choice again and went to work for a software company building supplier management software. You can make a lot out of either of the choices you've mentioned, as long as you focus on developing useful skills that are valuable to others. Additionally, I'd also suggest that you build your network of mentors, from different fields, that can help you as you reflect upon career choices and navigating the world of work. Here's a great blog by Procurious founder Tania Seary on attracting mentors: https://goo.gl/uaPGqJ
In my humble opinion, as an international procurement and supply chain modelling trainer, you should focus on getting as much experience as you can before you cross the bridge to being a consultant. Companies need to see solutions, a good consultant can understand the companies need and provide that solution. It's like putting the cart before the horse if you become a consultant without having substantial experience. That being said I would like to wish you good luck with whatever path you decide to take.
my name is Andreas Dornhoff and I'am working more than 30 years in the International Oil and Gas branch working first for Mannesmann, second for Fluor Daniel and TECHNIP France. According my experience the best is to start with an big international orientated company to learn purchasing any kind of equipment and material. After three or five years you can change to a "consulting company". They pay good, but they expect a lot of personal investment and you should like to travel as the clients are not often sit in front of your door.
All the best to you for the future.
I kind of agree with Joseph at certain point.
I am buyer now, I am looking for opportunities in either Public sector or category management as my next career step.
A full time position over the big 4 if you want to learn more and progress in my view. Any big international firm would snap you up for your language skills, e.g. the international development sector (devenetjobs.org) are keen on English/French speakers.
If ur passsion is moderate then join in IT software / Infrastructure company where there is scope for learning & execution in procurement
In all seriousness, your ability to become/make money as a consultant depends on your industry experience. Never hurts to apply for those consulting positions, but there's not as much of a market for consulting in Procurement/Supply Chain as with HR, Accounting, Finance, and Marketing. Procurement/Supply Chain activities are more likely to be completely outsourced rather than seek outside consulting. Because of this, the competition over consulting positions in Supply Chain is very fierce. At least that's what I've been told by one such consultant.
If you want people to pay you big bucks for your opinion:
Step 1: Become a buyer.
Step 2: Become an inventory planner.
Step 3: Become a fleet manager.
Step 4: Become an imports/exports agent.
Step 5: Get your friends to start calling you a "logistician".
Step 6: $$$$$$$$$$$