Professional qualifications: MCIPS (Member of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply)
Job Title: Consultancy Sourcing Manager
Tilly was the recipient of theYoung Professional Of The Year title in the CIPS Supply Management Awards, 2008
Were you always interested in Purchasing & Supply as a career? I fell into Purchasing by accident when I joined a large retail organisation as a merchandise assistant. I enjoyed the interaction with different suppliers and how negotiation strategies worked, so I applied for a job as a buyer within the Utility industry looking after Business Services and Telecoms contracts. This involved a lot of tactical buying (such as negotiating the best cost and supplier evaluations). After four years I joined AXA UK as a Category Manager to focus on Consultancy spend strategy, which is the most interesting part of Purchasing for me.
What do you actually do in your job? I focus on the external Consultancy spend in my organisation and look at ways we can bring cost savings, innovation, and value add back to the business from our Suppliers. In Financial Services there are many different factors which can affect the organisation, and we need to react quickly to compensate for this. By engaging with Consultancies in the correct way we can assist the organisation in remaining ahead of its competitors, and also generate savings.
What do you most like about what you do? You are always learning something new. In an environment where there are constantly changing conditions (e.g. external, internal, economic conditions) your strategic focus will need to change to adapt to this. Every day will present a new challenge in bringing cost savings to the business. You will also be required to get involved in many different pieces of work – in my career so far I’ve sourced everything from multi-million pound cost reduction pieces, to bulk quantities of pepper spray to ward off stray dogs!
Why did you decide to study for professional qualifications? My original managers all had their own styles regarding elements of Purchasing, and although it was a great platform for learning about different scenarios, I felt there was a lot more to the theory and principles surrounding good Purchasing practice. CIPS offered foundation and professional modules which meant I could learn good fundamental basics, and then choose options which would help further my career (such as Leading & Influencing, and International Purchasing).
What do you think being a member of CIPS has done for you as far as furthering your career? It’s helped for several reasons. It’s a great platform for networking, case studies are readily available to members which can greatly assist you in your role, the course content of the modules are theories which can be put into practice, and there is also an offering of ‘Continuing Professional Development’ which remains throughout your working career to assist you.
Would you recommend joining a professional body to other people? Yes. Being part of an organisation gives you great networking opportunities and the ability to converse with others in the same profession as yourself. There are many different organisations that have multiple synergies within the Purchase and Supply chain, and it is good to learn new skills, best practice, and to also see what your fellow companions are up to, and how they approach similar challenges in the industry.
How do you see your career progressing? My goal one day is to become a CPO (Chief Procurement Officer) of a large organisation. Skills and knowledge within Procurement are very transferable, and I think Purchasing in the current climate is a really exciting place to be, with cost reduction being at the forefront of everyone’s minds, especially in today’s environment.
Can you go any further within the CIPS qualification hierarchy? Do you wish to keep studying? I hope one day to find time to do a MSc qualification in Strategic Procurement. There is also a further grade of membership which is rewarded as recognition of professional achievements and development through a Fellowship (FCIPS). It’s a great and challenging goal to aspire to!
Is there anything you wish to add? Mentoring and coaching is an excellent way to continually learn about the environment you work in. I would encourage anyone looking to pursue a career in this area to grasp these type of opportunities that will be open to them.