2019 Review: Procurement & Supply Chain Hiring Trends

20/08/2019By Christian Shawcross
Despite volatile times, Procurement and Supply Chain professionals continue to prosper from a steady demand for their services. The industry is continuing to evolve, and those who can successfully adapt will remain in high demand. Christian Shawcross, Head of psd’s Procurement & Supply Chain practice, reviews the Procurement & Supply Chain hiring trends we have seen across the sectors in 2019.

The hiring of procurement and supply chain professionals remained strong throughout the first half of 2019.  Advancements in AI, automation and machine learning are enabling procurement and supply chain processes to become more efficient, alongside the need to reduce the costs of procurement operations.

Procurement professionals are taking advantage of technological advances, and have become increasingly able to implement them into their roles. Moreover, the role of procurement is broadening into operations improvement and commercial transformation. Procurement executives are increasingly called upon to be advisors on business efficiency and performance.

Affordable Housing

There is a demand to bring more commercial work practices into the social housing sector, resulting in a growing focus on attracting private sector talent from larger organisations to help lead transformation projects in Category and Supplier Relationship Management. This development is limited due to candidates needing public sector regulatory requirements, including an understanding of OJEU and PCR legislation. However, at psd we are discussing with talent how they may transfer from other similarly regulated sectors such as pharmaceuticals and utilities. We are keen to see how this shift effects collaborative and strategic procurement within this sector.

Affordable housing is a growth area for psd, and our Procurement and Supply Chain practice has managed a broad range of assignments, most notably for a Head of Procurement in a newly formed Greenfield environment, a Head of Categories for a growing London based organisation and a number of Category Manager and Sourcing Specialist roles within Professional Services, FM and Technology.


This is a key area that we anticipate will grow in both traditional consulting and outsourcing sectors. psd has completed a number of assignments in large and medium sized consulting firms, which have involved large-scale operational changes in procurement, and smaller projects involving category management. We have also recruited for positions in supplier management where procurement has gone beyond incremental improvements and focused on how clients interact with suppliers. The goal has been to shift the focus from cost and value to return on investment. Automation and technology advances have reduced the size of some procurement departments and consulting firms are able to pick up the slack by assisting on individual projects without the need for organisations to add to their permanent headcount.

Recent assignments for psd’s Procurement & Supply Chain practice have included a Head of IT Procurement with a global outsourcing business based in the Netherlands, Category Managers in Prague and Hampshire, and a Senior IT Sourcing Advisory Executive with a large global consulting firm in Switzerland.

Banking and Financial Services

There is high demand for procurement and supply chain professionals in the banking and financial services sectors. Smaller firms and many Fintech businesses have reached a stage of maturity where they are looking carefully at third party spend. psd has assisted a number of payments firms with cost management, and we anticipate further demand from smaller players. In larger more established firms there has been steady demand in technology cost management, both pre and post contract.  A number of banking clients have hired Heads of Technology, where the focus has been on managing SAS licensing agreements. Most banks are focusing on digital strategy, and individuals who are technologically adept are highly sought after.


There has been a steady demand for the recruitment of both interim and permanent procurement and supply chain professionals across the breadth of oil and gas, water and electricity markets within the UK. psd continues to work closely with global leaders in energy and utilities.  Having completed two urgent interim assignments for Category Managers in the oil and gas exploration sector, we have seen continued interest for more specialist expertise in the areas of technology and CAPEX.


Throughout 2019 psd has completed multiple interim assignments in the UK and Europe across the Energy, Hotels, Consultancy, FMCG and Financial Services industries, and we see continued demand for interim resources, albeit with a stronger focus on project based contracts and short-term consultancy agreements. It is unclear at this point what effect IR35 will have in 2020.

Facilities Management

Following a somewhat turbulent start to the year, there has been renewed demand for our expertise within Facilities Management. Most recently we have been placing senior leaders into growing organisations to drive collaboration across internal divisions.

One of our more interesting assignments was a search for a pan-European Sourcing Director for a specialist subdivision that provides managed services to the Clinical Research industry. This was a challenging search as the candidate required a scientific background in addition to senior leadership experience on an international level within the pharmaceuticals industry.


Demand in the hotels sector has grown, particularly in large and medium-sized hotel groups looking to strengthen procurement teams.  psd recently placed a Head of Procurement for a high-end hotel group to help integrate three brands. This was an interesting search as we saw the full spectrum of different procurement capabilities across the sector. It was followed by a placement with a smaller hotel chain based in the North West for a Head of Procurement to assist with indirect spend, and a Senior Procurement Manager based in Paris for a major hotel group.

psd has an established Hotel, Leisure & Travel business which has been highly successful under the direction of Lesley Reynolds and Simon Tucker-Brown. Working with a number of these clients, the Procurement & Supply Chain team have built a strong network of talented procurement executives in this sector and we are confident of completing any assignment that requires experienced procurement or sourcing expertise.

We recently welcomed Aaron Beesley to psd’s Procurement and Supply Chain practice, whose focus is primarily Facilities Management, Affordable Housing and Energy. Aaron has a highly successful sales and business development background and brings a consultative approach to assignments with an exceptional level of accuracy.

To our clients and candidates, we wish you continued success in 2019.

About the author

Christian is Director of psd‘s Procurement & Supply Chain practice, leading searches for senior executives in the Financial Services and Professional Services sectors in the UK and globally.