Category Lead

Category Lead jobs

In larger procurement operations, the sourced products and materials will be divided into categories so that they can undergo more focused purchasing, negotiating and analysis. Maintaining this focus allows the teams dealing with the products to attain a higher level of expertise and sensitivity to the markets in which they are dealing, which in turn should lead to better negotiating positions and lower prices paid.

The category lead’s main role will be to ensure the aims are fulfilled costs are minimised and profits maximised. He or she might work directly under a category manager or director, and the level of focus will depend on the size of the operation, the amounts purchased, the diversity, seasonality and availability of the sourced materials and the nature of the business as a whole. The lead might not be involved in any face-to-face procurement, but could well have a strictly overseeing role with regard to the team. Although some responsibility will lie with the procurement team members, the category lead will be the conduit between them and the senior management, so strategic decisions will have to be delivered precisely to them, and in turn, reported results and forecasts will need to flow upwards.

Category leads will often work alongside dedicated category analysts who will be deeply involved with the financial side of the operation, while the category lead gets on with running the department. However sometimes, analytical understanding and a degree of executive power might be granted to the lead.

The skills required

As with any middle management role, great communications skills will stand the category lead in good stead. The ability to deliver strategic demands from the board to the procurement team, each of whom might have different specialisations, will be key to the success of the procurement operation. Dealing with those higher up the hierarchy will be just as crucial, however, and an ability to honestly and clearly communicate problems as well as successes will help keep the department running harmoniously and profitably.

Where analytical skills are required, there will be a vital requirement for IT aptitude, with spreadsheeting, word processing and digital communications solutions being the tools of the trade. The ability to gather information both by word of mouth from the procurement team and from the digital records of bidding and purchasing processes, and to put the data to good use, will be a key skill of the procurement category lead.

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