本文整理自‘SUPPLY CHAIN WORLD"
我最近看到了一篇Spend Matters 2012年的文章，它做出了一些准确的预测：
为了帮助回答这个问题，我找了Anna McGovern。安娜是一位受过联合利华培训的供应链和采购从业人员，最近在纽约一家化妆品公司担任CPO。她也是前供应链运营兼职教授，也是采购基金会在康涅狄格州的地区分会的领导。总之，作为资深采购领导和一个招聘经理， 她肚里有货。
另一方面，采购专家往往注重在特定类别产品组合或商品中涉及广度和深度。因为供应链更加全球化，更加复杂 并且ESG标准处于应用阶段，采购专家在指导其公司决策方面发挥着核心作用。专家将深入了解市场，供应链监管合规、了解非政府组织等。 他们是首席执行官、首席财务官和高级领导去咨询的主题专家，从而为公司提供最大的价值。
马克：你同意 Spend Matters的上述说法吗？如果是，你是如何将其应用于自己的职业生涯的？
安娜：答案取决于许多因素。行业、市场、公司规模、教育和技术培训只是其中的几个考虑因素。 我发现有 具有供应链、财务、研发或工程等多个领域经验的跨职能背景为高效的采购经理创造了条件。接受过金融，统计、法律和监管合规的培训，以及学习要管理的投资组合或商品，对于成功至关重要。 在大型或中型公司中，作为一个通才给了你横向灵活性和纵向职业转换。你将有更多的选择来发展你的职业生涯，并在许多不同的雇主中增加价值。
在你的职业生涯早期，你可以测试水域，尝试不同的类别，不同的行业。然而，如果在负责采购IT和技术20年后，你决定你想成为一名资深买家，并得到同样的报酬，因为你知道交易的艺术，你将需要重新考虑你的方法。 一旦你专业化，它确实变得有难度。永远要规划你的职业道路，看看前面至少三个角色，并认真思考你最终想知道的事情。从一个位置到下一个位置，你在搭建什么关系？是的 当然，你专攻的领域并不限制职业或工资增长潜力。
采购团队将继续需要通才和专家两个角色来保护其公司的收入。 因为采购现在会接触到这么多不同节点的价值流 然而，一个多学科的背景将是非常有吸引力的，采购通才可能会再次成为更热的职业。
One of the questions I get asked most commonly, particularly by procurement professionals with just a few years of experience under their belt, is whether being a specialist or generalist is likely to offer the best career path.
I recently came across a 2012 article from Spend Matters that made some accurate predictions:
"Historically, procurement people who moved around jobs and employers as generalists probably stood more chance of making it to CPO and the highest reward levels. However, as key commodity markets get more global and complex, subject matter experts who really understand how to get the best value for their organizations in those areas are often far more valuable."
In my capacity as a recruiter to the procurement industry, I get to see what companies across the board are looking for when they're hiring, and what I've seen over the past 5+ years is very much in line with the statement above. It does ebb and flow over time, though, and with everything that's going on in the world right now, I think it's high time for an update on what, if anything, has changed and what we can predict for the future.
To help answer this question, I sought out Anna McGovern. Anna is a Unilever trained Supply Chain & Procurement practitioner who most recently served as CPO for a PE-backed cosmetics company in NYC. She is also a former Adjunct Professor of Supply Chain Operations and is Procurement Foundry's Regional Chapter Lead for Connecticut. In short, she knows her stuff, both as a procurement leader and an experienced hiring manager.
Mark: Perhaps you can start by providing your own definition of the specialist vs. generalist roles in our industry?
Anna: Procurement used to be merely a support function, a department creating transactions. Nowadays, procurement plays a highly strategic business partnering role touching every part of the value chain. Procurement professionals must have a combination of core skills and soft skills to connect the dots between sales and marketing, R&D, engineering, innovation, quality, supply chain, planning, and finance. A generalist will have a working knowledge of each discipline. In addition, they are internal consultants, relationship managers, legal and risk managers, financial advisors, supplier coaches and cheerleaders, negotiators, and business analysts. Procurement professionals are "expert generalists," a term coined by Bain. They do so much more than manage a portfolio of products.
Procurement specialists, on the other hand, tend to focus on creating both breadth and depth in a specific category portfolio or commodity. As supply chains are much more global, much more complex, and ESG criteria take center stage, procurement specialists are taking a central role in guiding their firms in decision making. Specialists will have an in-depth knowledge of the markets, the supply base, regulatory compliance, the NGO's etc. They are the subject matter experts that the CEO, the CFO, and the senior leaders go to for counsel to deliver the most value to their firms.
Mark: Do you agree with the above quote from Spend Matters? If yes, how have you applied that to your own career?
Anna: I do agree with the quote above. Generalists do more often make it to the ranks of CPO. If I may use a sports analogy, superstar athletes who excelled at their positions rarely make it to head coach or field manager of a team. We remember the superstar athlete for being a phenomenal quarterback or left-handed pitcher with a nasty curveball. They are not typically skilled enough to lead the team though, nor do they necessarily seek this role out. It is similar in procurement. The specialist frequently delivers the most value through in-depth knowledge of their commodity or category. They can influence business decision outcomes and get paid well doing it. Many category experts often work as independent contractors and call several clients and their fees often put them on par with CPO salaries.
In my career in procurement, I have mostly played the role of a generalist. I have managed multiple portfolios of spend categories in both direct and indirect materials in several business units in CPG, beauty, and cosmetics. I have also spent a great deal of time in Supply Chain, namely planning. This approach has worked well for me. It has given flexibility, career growth, a vast network of contacts, and I have been well rewarded.
Mark: What are some of the key considerations that individuals should give as they are deciding which path to take in their own careers?
Anna: The answer depends on many factors. The industry, the markets, the size of the company one works for, educational and technical training are but a few of the considerations. I have found having a cross-functional background with experience in several areas of the supply chain, finance, R&D, or engineering makes for highly effective procurement managers. Getting trained in finance, negotiations, legal and regulatory compliance, as well as learning the portfolio or commodity to be managed, are critical for success. In large or mid-size companies being a generalist gives you flexibility for lateral and vertical career moves. You will have more options to grow your career and add value across many different employers.
Adding a specialization in a specific area such as expertise in the dairy supply chain, IT, marketing or sustainability allows a firm to benefit from your far greater depth of knowledge. You will be paid well as you learn to extract higher value from the portfolios, the innovations, and the supply base.
Early in your career, you can test the waters and try different categories, different industries. However, if after 20 years of buying IT and technology, you decide you would like to be an energy buyer and get paid equally as well because you know the art of the deal, you will need to rethink your approach. Once you specialize, it does become more difficult to pivot. Always map your career path by looking out at least three roles ahead and thinking hard about what you ultimately want to be known for. What bridges are you building from one position to the next? Be sure what you specialize in does not limit career or salary growth potential.
Mark: What is the likely impact of COVID-19 on the procurement function within the context of our discussion? i.e., will a generalist with a more well-rounded understanding of procurement across a variety of categories/industries, and how it fits into the wider business, become the more attractive candidate to companies as the role of the function continues to elevate?
Anna: I recently co-authored an article on this topic. In a post-COVID-19 world, procurement will take a prominent role in managing supply risk, which is about developing detailed knowledge about your supply base and taking prudent steps to minimize business impact and disruption. While Order-to-Cash is critical to a company's revenue stream, it is also vital to incorporate solid Source-to-Pay processes into business continuity planning. How businesses treat and work with their suppliers in times of crisis is the difference between surviving or dying. Further, those who do it well will not only survive; they will thrive.
Procurement will lead cross-functional committees focused on supply management governance. Namely, the policies, processes, systems, and organization structure needed to purchase goods and services. In general, a well-developed and executed supply risk plan reviews and revises the following four elements throughout the year: 1) Supply Chain Resiliency, 2) Supplier Financial Stability, 3) Data Security, 4) Contract Life Cycle Management.
Procurement teams will continue to need both generalists and specialists to protect the revenue stream of their companies. Because procurement will now touch so many different nodes of the value chain though, a multi-disciplinary background will be very attractive and procurement generalists will likely become the hotter commodity again in the mid- to long-term.
The generalist vs. specialist debate has been an ongoing topic in procurement, for a long time, and although the path you chose will ultimately shape your career, and is therefore an important choice to make, I think what is most crucial is that you are doing work you genuinely enjoy. Consider the stage of your career, and where you want to go. Ultimately, both roles have value.
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