Hiring in Procurement and Supply Chain – A Positive Outlook

02/02/2021By Christian Shawcross
The importance of procurement and supply chain functions is never greater. They will continue to be more influential in contributing to business strategies and will help organisations to deliver on their commercial objectivesCovid-19 has brought disruption to supply chains on a global scale and risk mitigation is a key objective. 
Hiring Procurement Supply Chain

Recruitment within Procurement and Supply Chain continues to move ahead positively in 2021. While these remain challenging times, there have been several successful assignments completed across a wide range of sectors, indicating a buoyant market. Procurement functions have become more purpose-led and supplier risk has risen to the top of the agenda. Savings are still important as organisations look at the cost base when economies are stretched.

Fortunately, digital technologies can assist and there has been an accelerated uptake of AI, robotics and machine learning. These have been conceptual in the past and are now a major part of the procurement professional’s toolkit. Challenges encourage people to do more with less. Procurement leaders’ remits have expanded. They are now focussing on championing flexibility and innovation as well as managing the cost base.

Supplier diversity is also high on the agenda and leaders are under pressure to meet their objectives in combatting such elements as slavery and protecting human rights.


Banking and Financial Services

It was another steady period in the Banking & Financial Services sector in the fourth quarter with continued demand particularly in the technology and professional services categories. There has also been an emphasis in strengthening supplier management and vendor functions. Ensuring supplier health and risk mitigation have been key objectives for procurement departments. Procurement functions have become smaller and therefore more agile. They are more integrated in the business functions and interview processes involve meetings with internal customers to ensure they are aligned.

There have been several assignments in the procurement operations area helping in the drive to implement innovative technologies. We have worked recently with smaller financial services organisations and Fintech businesses that have hired their first Procurement Leaders. and their management teams. Other successful assignments have included a Head of Cyber Security Procurement for an investment bank and a Category Manager for consulting with a global payments firm. We expect to see much more work coming from the sector as organisations continue to implement digital technologies into their functions.


Consulting and Outsourcing

There was a vast improvement in the consulting sector in the last quarter of 2020, as organisations became more accustomed to the new norm. More assignments were commissioned, and this is a good indication that the market is thawing. Clients seem to be more comfortable with consulting firms delivering work remotely via video. It will be interesting to see if this will continue in the future.

There is much more confidence in the sector and consultancies that have held their nerve now seem to be prospering. We completed assignments with several mid-sized firms who are competing well with the larger organisations. The projects have been varied and have included a Procurement Transformation Director with a global advisory firm and senior manager positions with a rapidly expanding European consulting businesses. With the combined success of our Germany practice, we have strengthened our position as a leader in senior level recruitment with consulting businesses.


Affordable and Social Housing

There has been continued confidence in the Affordable Housing sector with investment from organisations looking to meet their sustainability targets. There has also been consolidation in the sector creating larger businesses with impressive portfolios.  Transformation projects have been plentiful, and we have assisted several organisations in identifying managers to lead these initiatives. Organisations are attracting talent from outside of the sector as more candidates are impressed by the challenges and the opportunity for career advancement. Projects continued in category management and supplier relationship management.

Naturally, there will be less focus on an understanding of OJEU and PCR legislation for future roles. In the last quarter of 2020, we worked on a Head of Procurement for a mid-sized affordable housing organisation and a Head of Supplier Management for a large provider based in the Midlands looking to enhance the coverage of the existing supplier function. Affordable housing is a key area for psd with several consultants serving the sector across several disciplines and we are growing in our reputation as experts in this sector.


Energy and Utilities

There has been high demand for both interim and permanent procurement professionals across utilities and oil and gas markets within the UK.  We recently completed two high profile permanent assignments for IT Category Managers for a global energy business and placed two contractors with a major oil exploration business. We have several ongoing assignments working closely with a range of utilities businesses focusing on supplier risk and vendor management. We are enthusiastic about more work coming in this sector and the results for 2021 are very encouraging so far.


Facilities Management

The last three months of 2020 were much improved for the Facilities Management sector, with a high demand for our services. There are still challenges but businesses ae riding out the storm well by looking at cost management as one of many ways to maintain operating margins. This was evident in a Head of Procurement Operations position that psd supported, where the individual will be looking at innovative technologies to assist procurement in achieving their targets. Other positions that we have worked on include an Associate Director for a global FM business and several category managers based in the South East. After lockdown, time spent in offices will be debatable, but the consensus seems to indicate that organisations want to retain premises even though more people are working from home.

If you would like to know more about current market and hiring conditions within the Procurement & Supply Chain sector, or have any questions or comments about this review, please do feel free to reach out.


psd has been recruiting Procurement, Sourcing & Supply Chain professionals across the UK and Europe, Middle East and Asia for over 25 years. Our services include Executive Search, Contingency Recruitment, Selection & Assessment, Interim & Contract and Research, Mapping & Benchmarking.

About the author

Christian is the 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.