This week, MRA Global Sourcing's Naseem Malik joins the Source One Podcast to discuss his contribution to Procurement Transformation: Industry Perspectives. Malik, Managing Director at MRA, elected to focus on the all-important issue of talent in Procurement.

Even across today's highly-digital supply chains, people are Procurement's most indispensable resource. Unfortunately, they're a resource that's in short supply within most organizations. To illustrate this fact, Malik cites the recent Deloitte CPO survey which suggested less than half of Procurement teams are adequately staffed.

The fact is that optimal Procurement departments, ones that function as strategic, efficient change drivers within their organizations, depend upon a set of skills that's not easy to come by. As the function's role has grown more critical, its need for what Malik calls "critical talent" has predictably skyrocketed. These 'critically talented' professionals provide the blend of hard and soft skills that leading Procurement teams require to perform as risk mitigators, relationship managers, and value generators for their businesses.

Malik also discusses the aggressive recruitment practices that have helped business behemoths like Google and Amazon set themselves even further apart from the competition. While not every company can behave quite so aggressively, companies can still learn a lot from observing their name-brand competition. "One thing these organizations all share," he says, "is a strong, impactful brand. Even the most passive candidates can't help but feel excited when one of these organizations comes calling." He's quick to point out that a strong brand is a perfectly attainable goal. Just about any organization can work to build Procurement's brand, and they can do it without breaking the bank or opening themselves up to unnecessary risks.

Malik is careful, however, to caution Procurement against pursuing talent too aggressively. Discerning candidates, he reminds listeners, are likely to feel turned off if they're offered a job after a single conversation. "We're even seeing more and more candidates ask to come on-site," he says. Before making a commitment, truly world-class professionals want to know their prospective employer inside and out. What's more, they want the organization to know them just as well.

What world-class candidates are looking for, he suggests, is an organization where Procurement is driven by an innovative leader who'll "evangelize the function." This leader holds a seat at the table within the organization. They collaborate directly with the c-suite and other business unit leaders to drive results and promote innovation. For many organizations, finding this leader is the first step in transforming their approach to Procurement talent. With this individual in place, the organization can better adjust its approach to recruiting, retaining, and engaging new hires.

Though discussions of Procurement talent often take a pessimistic turn, Malik remains hopeful. He believes most organizations are similarly optimistic. He remarks, "We're not seeing organizations give up and throw up their hands. Instead, they're asking 'who are these people and where can I find them?"

Check out the full conversation.
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