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Fluctuating prices drive up demand for interim procurement managers

When an organisation is in a crisis situation, or there is a need for the expertise of a specialist to manage a project, an interim manager is usually called upon. These specialists bring tons of experience and make themselves temporarily available to an organisation. Such as interim procurement managers, for example. Their responsibilities include the organisation's procurement strategy. Marguerite Taillieu, senior consultant in the interim management division of international recruitment firm Robert Walters, explains exactly what this job entails and why the demand for these specialists is ever-increasing.  

What exactly does an interim procurement manager do?  

Marguerite: "As a procurement manager, you are responsible for the procurement strategy and making sure that the organisation has the right goods and services available at all times. In doing so, you obviously have to take into account the budget, quality and delivery deadlines. You strive for cost-efficient procurement without loss of quality and through the most efficient process possible. Each organisation naturally has its own focus and budget available. It is the procurement manager's job to identify the exact needs of the organisation based on this. 'Exactly how much of product X should be purchased?' 'Which purchases are absolutely necessary, and which are less urgent?' These are important questions that concern a procurement manager. The requirements of products or services should also be put on paper. That means thinking critically about exactly what products or services should meet.  

In addition, a procurement manager looks for the right suppliers and maintains relationships with current providers. As a procurement manager, you also follow the market closely, keeping abreast of new technologies and suppliers, opportunities for faster deliveries, etc. 

A lot of people confuse the position of procurement manager with that of a purchasing manager. The big difference between a procurement and a purchasing manager is that the latter will only deal with the purchasing of goods and services, including the associated administration and following up contracts and agreements. Procurement goes a few steps further; it is also about everything around that: about processes, about negotiating and selecting suppliers and maintaining relationships with partners." 

What training and skills are crucial for a successful interim procurement manager?   

"Most procurement managers have a master's degree in commercial sciences or commercial engineering, but it is mainly experience and skills that make you successful as a procurement manager. Given that you are constantly working with figures and data, excellent analytical thinking skills are a must, as are strong communication skills. After all, you are in constant contact with both internal and external stakeholders: the financial director, the production and warehouse manager and other business partners within the organisation, but also the various suppliers.  

In order to obtain the best prices for the necessary goods, you are a born negotiator and strive to build a good long-term relationship. In the current market with strong price fluctuations, it is therefore essential that a procurement manager has strategic insight and can be stress-resistant. Finally, for procurement managers too, the term 'sustainability' is increasingly important in the procurement process. Ethical insight is an additional requirement that is indispensable in today's rapidly evolving market," says Marguerite.  

How is the demand for interim procurement managers in the Belgian market at the moment?  

"Interim managers are highly sought-after, and we see more and more professionals exchanging their years of experience as permanent employees for self-employment."

"They then decide to use their acquired knowledge and expertise for temporary assignments at organisations that need that specific expertise at that time. This may be for a specific project, but also to cover a long-term absence of a permanent employee, for example. To prevent that long-term absence of a crucial role within the organisation leading to a crisis situation, an interim manager is then appointed." 

Within procurement, we see the demand for specialised interim managers increasing significantly. As much as 20% more procurement manager vacancies were published this year than a year ago. Marguerite: "We expect this demand to increase further in the coming weeks and months, partly due to fluctuating commodity prices, and the increasing need for specialists who oversee the right procurement decisions." 

Is hybrid working possible as an interim procurement manager?   

"A procurement manager must know the organisation inside out, and that includes an interim procurement manager who is usually only active within the organisation for a few months. "Given your crucial role within the organisation, in most organisations you are part of the executive committee. Certain tasks can easily be done from home, but since you also lead a team and are in contact with various departments and colleagues within the organisation, it is advisable to be physically present in the office as often as possible, especially if you are an interim manager who has recently started your assignment," says Marguerite.


Find out more?

Looking for a specialist to lead your supply chain team? Contact our engineering & supply chain team today. Looking for a new challenge? Have a look at our latest supply chain vacancies.

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