Which of these legacies will you leave at the end of your procurement career?

It’s never too soon in your career to think about what sort of leader you want to be, and what legacy you’ll leave behind.

Which of these legacies will you leave at the end of your procurement career?

Imagine you have a crystal ball to look into. You peer through the mists of time and see yourself at the pinnacle of your career – you’ve made it as a CPO!

But what kind of CPO are you? And have you taken the time to consider what legacy you might leave behind?

You maybe see yourself reflecting on a career well spent as you speak to the next generation of procurement professionals. But what advice are you going to impart? What of your career achievements do you rank amongst the highest? And how are people going to remember you?

If you don’t know how you might answer, don’t worry, you’re not alone. It turns out, thanks to a poll Procurious conducted of successful procurement professionals, that there are four different ‘legacies’ most commonly left by CPOs.

Consider them carefully. Which do you most closely identify with? And which would you like to leave behind at the end of your career?

1. The Cost Cutter 

As procurement’s raison d’être, having some – or all – of your major achievements relating to money you’ve saved is certainly not a bad thing.

Indeed, if you identify as the cost cutter, there are likely to be numerous stories of achieving savings that many thought impossible, or that predecessors or colleagues never managed. 

As a cost-cutter, you’re likely to be able to put a monetary figure on your contribution, and that is certainly something to be proud of.

The career of the cost-cutter usually looks something like this: you started out by making small savings on low risk, low value items, and then, after you were incredibly successful at that, you quickly progressed to a category where you could make an even bigger impact. 

As you moved through different roles and organisations, you always managed to exceed your savings targets. Everyone around you was in awe, especially younger team members, who thought that what you did simply wasn’t possible if done the ‘right’ way. 

But that’s the thing about the cost cutter – savings were always made the right way.

You crunched the balance sheet, but you never made suppliers cut their margins, and you kept your strategic relationships firmly in the two-way camp. Sure, there were transactional relationships along the way, but you were always a hard but fair negotiator. 

Your savings were always sustainable. This is your legacy, and your organisation/s will be forever grateful. 

2. The World Saver 

With the world’s climate in a tenuous position, there is little more to be proud of than being a world saver. If this is your legacy, then the planet – and the future generations inhabiting it – certainly have a lot to thank you for. 

From the very beginning the world-saver is always focused on sourcing goods and services in an ethical and sustainable way. This isn’t always an easy path to tread, so you started with small changes – introducing new metrics, or encouraging better reporting. 

But what you did so well was bring everyone on the journey with you.

Your passion and interest inspired others, and bit by bit, you negotiated to bring more and more sustainable suppliers on board. As you did, you worked with your Tier-1 suppliers to not only screen them, but to ensure that ethical practices were measured, monitored and reported on. You also helped embed good practices throughout your supply chain.

You set the example, not just for your suppliers or your organisation, but for the world. And the earth thanks you. 

3. The Relationship Builder 

Show us someone who says their organisation doesn’t have internal politics and we’ll show you a liar.

Every organisation has their share of bad bosses and backstabbing coworkers, so if you’re the one that has genuinely befriended everyone, you had better believe that your legacy is oh-so-strong. 

As a relationship builder, your most noteworthy achievements will be how you managed stakeholders, both internally and externally.

Throughout your career you likely had few, if any, transactional relationships. Instead, you built genuine, lasting, and meaningful partnerships. In fact, these relationships have been so strong they will have benefitted you in a roundabout way when it came to new roles and promotions. 

Suppliers stick with you through thick and thin because you’re simply the best person to work with. But beyond that, your nous for relationship building has ensured that procurement got a seat at the table.

Naturally, your initiatives have received strong leadership backing and you have been able to deliver many successful projects with ease. 

As a relationship builder, you were a masterful influencer. Perhaps now you’re retiring, it’s time to write a book!

4. The People Developer 

In this story, the starry-eyed graduate didn’t need to ask you what your biggest achievement was because they already knew. It was you, of course, but not in a selfish way.

The you who was the star of the graduate program, the you who mentored so many over your career, the you who was responsible for helping countless people ‘make it’. 

In a world where some people in organisations are just called ‘resources’, you knew differently. Anytime that procurement wasn’t succeeding, you knew that what the team needed wasn’t different suppliers or metrics, but more investment in people. You fought tooth and nail for better training budgets, and whenever someone was unhappy, instead of letting them ‘just quit’, you tried to get to the bottom of things. 

And that was just the start.

You rarely had to recruit externally as you championed internally; believing in your team members even when no one else would. You lost track of the amount of people that had personally thanked you for their promotion or pay rise. Nothing was sacred when it came to your knowledge, and you shared your infinite wisdom with everyone who sought it (and perhaps a few who didn’t). 

Pretty much everyone is at a loss of what to do now you’re leaving. Your team won’t be the same but, hopefully, they’ll be better because of you. 

There are so many important legacies to leave in procurement! Which best describes you? Are there any legacies we haven’t mentioned? Let us know in the comments below. 

Working in procurement in 2023, we all have the opportunity to make an impact, and for some, it could be a career-defining impact. If you’ve ever wondered how you could make a difference, then the Big Ideas Summit is what you need. You can register now by clicking here!

This article was originally published on January 5, 2022.

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