Career as a director of purchasing

Even though the title may sound lighthearted, the role of a director of purchasing requires more than just knowing which products to buy. From raw materials to services, procurement is an important function especially in the manufacturing and services industry. In addition to understanding the company’s product and services requirements, procurement professionals are also required to work closely with vendors as well as administer and manage their contracts. Improper management can not only cause delays for the company’s supply chain and production process, but it can also impact its bottom line.
A successful director of purchasing requires a combination of technical know-how and communication skills. They are required understand their company’s product manufacturing processes, services requirements and operation budgets. On the other hand, they need to be able to source vendors that not only meets the company’s product, services and budget requirements, but also its culture and values to maintain a successful relationship.
Because most companies in every industry have a procurement department of sorts, there is no one definite path to pursue to become a director of purchasing. For professionals who are involved in the procurement process of a manufacturing company, they may want to focus their studies in supply chain management or engineering. For professionals who are director of purchasing for retail chains or restaurants or services companies, they may have a general business background which provides them with insight on the procurement process, process optimization as well as financial management.
Students who wish to pursue a career in purchasing, especially at the director level, a post-secondary degree from a university is definitely required. These are four year programs designed to provide students with specific knowledge and skills which will train their analysis and decision making capabilities. They will also learn about best practices in various industries based on case studies.
Following graduation, students may find employment in a number of organizations, from public sector agencies to companies in multiple industries to management consulting firms. The procurement function is usually located within a company’s headquarters, the job prospects is higher in areas where the companies tend to base their operations. As a result, this is a career which is often hyper competitive and in selected cities in the US. Students may have to be prepared to relocate from their home towns or enroll in a master program to qualify for the jobs on which they have their mind set.
According to the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook is lower than average at 4% between 2012 and 2022.1 The reason is that this role is a cost centre rather than a revenue driver. Companies tend to downscale the buying department when its financial performance is less than average. However, there are certain industries which require more talented buyers than others, which poses potential for students who excel in this area.
For more information on the career prospects for a director of procurement, please contact your career counselor or visit the website of your local college.
Reference:
1. Purchasing Managers, Buyers, and Purchasing Agents. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. US Department of Labor. http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/purchasing-managers-buyers-and-purchasing-agents.htm

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