Demand for procurement specialists, purchasing agents and officers is steady from coast-to-coast in Canada, according to the latest data from the Canada Job Bank.
Waves of retirements, a shortage of trained job candidates, and growth in the supply chain industry is creating opportunities for new grads in this role—and in other areas of supply chain management, such as logistics and transportation and materials/inventory sourcing.
Considering heading back to school to earn a supply chain management diploma? Wondering what kinds of career paths you might pursue after training?
This week we interviewed Montreal-based procurement specialist, Stefano Petriello, to give supply chain students (and prospective students) an idea of what it's really like to work in this role.
Stefano gives us a glimpse of daily responsibilities, top challenges of the procurement business, and some very helpful words of advice for those just starting out.
Q: Stefano, what attracted you to procurement and where do you work?
I have a background and training in business, and have always been interested in developing my negotiation skills as a buyer, and strategizing innovative ways to cut costs. So when the opportunity came along to work in procurement, I jumped on board.
I've been working in procurement for over five years now, and for the past three, I've worked with Accedian in Montreal. Accedian provides global solutions for monitoring and optimizing Ethernet services, data center access, and cloud connectivity.
I started small, doing simple tasks, and slowly worked my way up, learning the ropes directly from experienced professionals in the supply chain business.
Q: What are some of the daily tasks you perform at work? What does a typical day look like for you?
A big part of my job is managing the flow of goods and services through our distribution networks, from manufacture to point of consumption.
This involves reviewing weekly stock levels, forecasting material to use for commodity storage, creating purchase orders, following-up in the supply chain process, and exercising cost-effective strategies. These tasks make-up my daily routine.
Q: What do you love most about working in procurement?
Opening a business case for cost-saving opportunities with new suppliers is a really fun challenge that can pay off extremely well. Another “pro” is getting yourself involved in negotiating for competitive prices, which can prove very rewarding.
Also, I really enjoy working on building a large network of contacts in the supply chain industry. This network can be very advantageous, especially during times when the company is experiencing a shortage of critical components and market supply is scarce.
Q: What would you say is the biggest challenge of working in procurement?
It’s always a challenge to keep up with multiple urgent procurement requirements for critical components used on sales orders, first-article approvals, testing equipment and prototype phases.
It becomes a much bigger challenge when there is a shortage of critical parts in the market due to high demand and limited supply. This is where we really need to hustle, and locate anyone out in the open market that can supply us with stock in a relatively short lead-time.
When it comes to procurement, putting your name out there and establishing close relationships with sales reps is key to fulfilling your deadlines.
Q: What advice do you have for students considering supply chain management training?
If you're considering supply chain management training, it's important to know that jobs in this field are often demanding, and even overwhelming at times.
Learning the nuances of the business and building a large network of contacts in the industry is key to success. If you can do that, you can overcome any difficult challenges ahead.
Q: In your experience, what skills and qualities are most important for success in procurement?
Being able to multi-task and fulfill strict deadline requirements is of crucial importance in procurement. Teamwork is definitely a key requirement for staying ahead of the curve and achieving company goals.
You'll need support and cooperation from all of your supply chain partners, including contract manufacturers, sales reps, brokers and suppliers, in order to meet deadlines and do your job well. Relationship-building is a very important skill for procurement specialists.
A big thanks to Stefano for walking us through what it means to work in procurement, and the skills required for success in the supply chain management field.
Learn More about Supply Chain Management Training
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