Procurement & Supply Chain – Market and Hiring Trends 2021

The hiring market continues to be positive in the procurement and supply chain sector. There is demand across most sectors that we specialise in. Here we have noted some of our observations of the market. 

There has been an emphasis on risk management from the supplier base and supply chains. Most of the assignments we have dealt with have covered some aspect of this. Predominantly, risk mitigation is more important in regulated industries where psd focuses a lot of attention. Companies are looking for more ways to increase their agilityresilience and versatility. Digitisation remains high on the agenda and as does the implementation of new technology and how this can be used to gain efficiencies across the supply base. 

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Banking and Financial Services 

The market continues to be buoyant, and we have seen demand for procurement transformation leaders and category experts in the technology, legal, property and facilities management categories. Overall, we see that procurement departments are maintaining their size on the whole by replacing individuals or responding to more demand from the business. There is more interest in procurement operations experts, and they are being asked to investigate new technology and then to implement them. Transformation is still the buzz word! 

Psd has enjoyed a great deal of success in this sector with a number of placements with new and existing clients. We have recruited an entire interim sourcing team for a global investment business that is looking at risk mitigation and regulatory compliance from the supply base. We have also worked with a Far East Investment Bank to recruit their Head of Property and FM category and we also found an interim Head of Technology. Another challenging brief was with the UK’s largest asset manager where we were tasked with finding a supplier relationship manager to work with two key suppliers. It was a tough role and we managed to find someone who exceeds expectations. Another satisfied client for psd! 

We have several ongoing assignments in this sector and we are looking forward to identifying and placing more high impact leaders. 

Consulting and Outsourcing 

It has been another busy period for consulting and outsourcing. There seems to be a great deal of demand from clients to commission consultancies on projects in the Transformation, Procurement Technology and Category Management areas. It is growing each time we write a review and the smaller, mid-sized firms are competing favourably with the larger more established firms. There has been consolidation recently with mid-sized firms merging with other firms of a similar size. 

We were happy to assist a consulting firm to recruit a Partner to lead the Middle East Practice. This is a niche supply chain and procurement consulting firm that is growing organically and is also acquisitive. We worked with this firm in the Middle East several years ago and we were happy to welcome them back as a psd client. 

We have also recruited two individuals for a Global Consulting Firm that is establishing a practice in the UK and they require high performing individuals with the potential to lead the business in the future.  

We are working with a Procurement Transformation Consulting Firm that is part of a larger, global strategy house. They are expanding in the UK, and we have identified two individuals at Director and Senior Manager level to work across a Private Equity and financial services.  

Psd has a great deal expertise in the sector, and we continue to develop our knowledge so we can quickly identify talented individuals in consulting. 

Facilities Management and Real Estate

As the world continues to return to some form of normality and office workers begin phasing into a multitude of hybrid working strategies, the important role that Facilities Management Providers have in securing and maintaining safety within the workplace is paramount. As throughout the past 12 months, specialist cleaning services are in high-demand and procurement teams are working hard to ensure that their internal teams and subcontracted supply chains have the capacity and scalability to respond to varying levels of demand. 

As more businesses begin transitioning to utilising shared service centres and central business hubs, demand for integrated technology solutions and the smart workplace continue to increase. This has led to several complex M&E, Data Centre, Laboratory and Engineering projects which we have supported internationally, and we predict demand for these services will only increase. 

For Facilities Management Providers, this continues to put an emphasis on breadth of service and innovation delivery as a differentiator within the marketplace. Procurement teams are increasingly being called upon to source innovative technologies and service providers, whilst the value of integrating procurement into the business development cycle is being further utilised. 

As employees adapt to their new hybrid working models, professionals are increasingly utilising on-demand coworking spaces as areas of collaboration and to provide a quiet, controlled area within which they can properly focus. Several start-up and more established businesses are beginning to capitalise on this trend, increasing demand for indirect procurement professionals who can support them in the areas of Facilities Management, Professional Services and Real Estate.


The Construction Sector continues to experience significant challenges in the supply of materials, delivery logistics and pricing fluctuations. These challenges are further exacerbated by the shortage of talented managers across the sector, resulting in significant salary increases across the sector that are being utilised to both secure and retain talent. 

Furthermore, the impact that Procurement and Supply Chain teams can have on achieving ESG and sustainability objectives is becoming increasingly important, with sustainable sourcing and scalable supply chains high on the agenda.  

The residential sector has seen a significant focus on innovation. Modern methods of construction continue to expand in popularity with sustained investment in modular solutions, technology enabled supply chain services and implementing more sustainable products into the initial design process. 

Investment in modular solutions has seen multiple new hires within Greenfield Procurement and Supply Chain teams. Talent has been sourced from a wide variety of areas into this emerging sector, with a clear demand for manufacturing professionals in senior leadership positions. 

Social Housing providers continue to focus on commerciality, whilst facing challenging talent shortages within the public sector. Greenfield leadership roles are aplenty, and this is a specific niche that psd have developed in-depth expertise. Several providers have also turned to in-house talent development strategies, with a pleasing increase in apprenticeship and graduate schemes introducing new talent into the sector. For more experienced professionals, funded CIPS qualifications and a focus on providing structured CPD opportunities continues to draw in the social housing procurement leaders of the future.  

psd continue to be relied upon to help our clients across the breadth of the construction sector. Utilising our extensive professional networks and highly experienced research team, we can proactively uncover passive talent with the expertise required to be successful within this area. Furthermore, our unique networks allow us access to cross-sector skillsets including those from the Facilities Management, Real Estate, Manufacturing and Engineering sectors. This strategy has been instrumental in alleviating the challenges which the current talent shortage provides. 


Highlighting the adaptability and breadth of experience within our Procurement and Supply Chain team, we were recently called upon to provide support to a high-end retail client who required several new hires within their Supply Chain team. 

Working closely with the CFO, we quickly established a roadmap for the talent required and provided up-to-date salary benchmarks specific to their industry, location, and challenges. Following this, we conducted an in-depth search, resulting in the successful appointment of their new Head of Supply Chain and Export Manager.  

This was an exceptionally interesting project, with niche expertise required in international export legislation and broad-based fulfilment across e-commerce, B2B and brick and mortar supply chains.  

The demands placed upon supply chain professionals who are called upon to continually remain up to date with ever-changing import and export legislation has led to an interesting market that is often candidate driven. Whilst the Retail sector is not an area in which our Procurement and Supply Chain team support often, it is an area in which we are seeing further demand for our expertise, and we look forward to supporting our clients with further projects in this arena.  

Energy and Utilities

The Energy and Utilities sector has been in an unenviable position as critical service providers throughout the pandemic, weathering the storm through significant challenges in PPE supply, enabling office-based employees to effectively work from home and retaining service levels, including remaining on track with scheduled maintenance and more complex capital infrastructure projects. 

Procurement professionals were forced to adapt, employing tactical and strategic purchasing methodologies throughout the pandemic, often having to react to supply challenges with commercial creativity. However, as ever, procurement professionals showcased their adaptability by transitioning to this new way of working with relative ease.     

As within other sectors, the focus on environmental sustainability continues to be at the forefront of the agenda. psd have been supporting several renewable energy providers on a range of exciting projects internationally within the solar, hydro and wind verticals, where the demand for international talent continues to provide a hotbed of activity at a senior level. 

With the sustained focus on enacting real change in the way we uncover and consume natural resources, psd are eager to continue providing support to any provider within this sector and we are strong advocates in the promotion of supply chain sustainability through our conversations in the industry. 

About the authors

executive recruiter manchester

Christian Shawcross

Director – Procurement & Supply Chain

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.

Aaron Beesley Procurement Recruitment

Aaron Beesley

Consultant – Procurement & Supply Chain

Aaron is a Consultant in psd’s Procurement & Supply Chain Practice, leading searches in the construction, facilities management and Energy and Utilities sectors.