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Soft skills are valued in procurement industry

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Posted on 23/05/2013 by Wayne Brophy FCILT

The skillset required for procurement jobs is changing. Instead of technologically trained individuals, companies are looking to employ candidates with a range of soft skills.

As a reflection of changing attitudes in the procurement industry, private equity business director at EQUATE Petrochemical Company, Ahmad Al-Saleh, said that a well-rounded individual is more valuable to business than one with solely technical procurement skills. He said: “In reality, the people we acquire from the market are talents that don’t necessarily exhibit the technical skills… because what we see are the talents to be account managers and project management skills. Talent that has the character and stamina to manage supply networks, to be entrepreneurs and to bring some kind of innovation and different way of managing that supply network.”

He went on to describe procurement professionals as ‘ambassadors of the company’. As such, they have an obligation to represent the business well and provide excellent service. Additionally, successful ‘ambassadors’ work to promote stakeholder engagement and build a strong foundation for the company. Soft skills are are a necessity when carrying out these tasks. Knowing how to interact with suppliers and successfully manage relationships is crucial. In addition, local knowledge and a general understanding of best practice is ideal.

So what does this mean for candidates looking to break into the procurement industry? First of all, it means focusing more on attitude and personal interactions. Good communication skills are more important than ever, and that includes all forms of communication. In a technological age, when smartphones are the norm, employees must know how to communicate effectively via email and text messaging.

In conjunction with communication skills, listening skills are becoming increasingly important. For procurement professionals, this is crucial, as it can have an overwhelming effect on business relations. Listening to suppliers, their concerns and goals can make or break a business deal.

Networking is also important, as it will allow procurement professional to add value to the company by expanding their B2B network. Furthermore, taking initiative is a classic way to impress management.

Though some of the most wanted traits seem like common sense, the fact that they are being valued over technical skills represents a shift in corporate values. As technology continues to make the world we live in smaller, it’s more important than ever to know how to network, attract new business and maintain positive working relationships. After all, in a small world, word gets around fast.

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