Procurement Hiring Trends – Quarterly Review

31/10/2019By Christian Shawcross
The Procurement & Supply Chain market saw sustained hiring activity throughout the third quarter of 2019. Political uncertainty remains, but admirably the Procurement community appears to be getting on with it.
Procurement hiring trends

Procurement professionals continue to demonstrate their value not just with savings but in providing a robust commercial support function to organisations. This not only makes the job more enjoyable and rewarding, but also helps to create more opportunities for managers working with in numerous areas. To prosper, the procurement community must continue to be flexible in looking for ways to help stakeholders.

Energy and Utilities

There are two themes which continue to dominate Energy and Utilities Procurement hiring trends; attracting specialist CAPEX, infrastructure and equipment talent and a focus on Procurement systems.  The second is internal technology, governance, performance management and analytics.

Transformation projects combining procurement systems with ongoing SRM activity are numerous, with an overall emphasis on efficiency across the sector. This has led to a rise in strategic contract and relationship management opportunities, with talent being sourced from the private and public sector alike.

Despite the numerous challenges facing the industry, innovation continues to be a major focus point. psd has been engaged on a number of interesting roles focussing on innovation, predominantly in the implementation of new technologies and systems. Within larger organisations, there is a preference for candidates with global experience and there has been a marked increase in international cross-collaborative working.


Consulting is another key area across psd Group. Demand continues to be high in procurement and we are working with a number of large and mid-sized consultancies as their pipeline of work increases. We are currently engaged with a North West consulting firm who are seeking to identify senior executives to lead a number of initiatives in the Supply Chain and Operations areas. This is a demanding yet enjoyable search, and we are speaking to a number of interesting experts who would like greater autonomy in their consulting careers.

Within other firms, we have seen demand in P2P, particularly Ariba and SAP Concur professionals in the UK and Prague. There is ongoing work in the areas of sourcing advisory and Procurement Transformation. We expect demand to remain high in this area, as companies utilise consultants’ expertise to support third party spend objectives.

Affordable Housing

In this uncertain political climate there have been a number of challenges and opportunities that are impacting the Social Housing sector. The increasing levels of investment in modular housing, the continuing trend of mergers and acquisitions, increasing pressure from both local and national government and the continually difficult process of finding suitable development opportunities have all had an effect on strategy within this sector.

Procurement functions in large established organisations are becoming more streamlined and commercially driven. They have the ability to implement a thorough category management strategy, especially in the asset management and construction categories. This is increasingly becoming a priority for growing organisations which are facing a number of geographical and supplier challenges.

For a number of smaller organisations, there is a growing trend to establish robust procurement functions, mostly initiated by finance departments seeking to increase their cost efficiency without compromising on the quality of service provided to their residents.

Greenfield functional development has been a major focus area for psd in recent months, where we’ve leveraged our expertise across the public and private sectors to provide a broad range of options to our clients.

Implementing an official Procurement function from scratch must not be underestimated, however.  Often times there are limited resources available, compounded by resistance from reluctant stakeholders that brings an additional challenge to these projects. To undergo a transformation phase like this, it is imperative that businesses engage the best talent on the market and get it right the first time.

To undergo a transformation phase like this, it is imperative that businesses engage the best talent on the market and get it right the first time.

This pressure is reflected in the recruitment process, with more thorough assessments and bespoke sourcing agreements being offered in addition to supplementary services such as salary surveying and market intelligence.

Facilities Management

With an increased focus on providing Total Facilities Management comes an increase in specialised service offerings. Outsources, consultancies and service providers are now covering broader areas ranging from the more traditional commercial catering, fleet management, property maintenance and commercial cleaning through to more bespoke services such as outsourced clinical procurement and niche technology/equipment maintenance. Further to this, with ecological considerations and climate impact becoming higher priorities for a broad range of businesses, there has been an increase in requirements for the management of sustainable utilities and environmentally friendly waste management.

These increasing specialisms have led to a number of challenges in sourcing niche talent, with larger companies moving away from centralised procurement functions to focus on project, divisional and regional requirements. This has had a double-edged effect on recruitment within the sector.

Leadership opportunities are on the rise, but with an increased emphasis on category specialism and stakeholder engagement skills.

With procurement functions now becoming more involved in the business development process, soft skills are in demand and Facilities Management companies are now competing with a wide range of sectors including Oil and Gas, Consultancy and Telecommunications in order to attract and retain talent.

Banking and Financial Services

The Banking & Financial Services sector saw the most activity for psd in Q3, and continues to be a key area. The psd Procurement & Supply Chain Practice has supported a global bank with their recruitment needs for over 10 years and in Q3 we undertook a Search to recruit a New York based Legal Category Director. This can be a tricky category in which to identify talent. However, psd has a strong network in New York and we quickly identified an individual who is now developing a strategic plan for the bank that will help stakeholders.

Elsewhere, we have worked with a major UK Life and Pensions provider to recruit a Professional Services Category Specialist and a Supplier Risk Manager as the organisation expands the function to meet growing demand.

Cloud experts are in demand as companies move functions from on premises to off premises. It takes a skilled individual to navigate the potential pitfalls involved.


In Q3 we placed an experienced Head of Procurement to lead the indirects area with a North West hotel chain.  We used our existing network to identify an ambitious executive who will help to transform the procurement department. It was an enjoyable assignment as both client and candidate are delighted with the outcome – as are we. We successfully placed an interim Procurement Manager with a global hotel group in France, further demonstrating our international expertise. 2019 has been a record year for international placements and we welcome further assignments to stretch our international capability.

As we approach the last few months 2019 we wish you continued success in your endeavours. To benefit from a confidential discussion about the opportunities to shape your future or your organisation, contact Christian Shawcross or Aaron Beesley today and connect with us on LinkedIn.

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.