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Choosing Buyer’s Profession.

All the children dream of becoming someone. They see astronauts on TV, kind doctors in hospitals, ice-cream sellers on the streets, and make up their minds on the spot to become one of those fancy, helpful and impressive grown-ups. When they get older they happen to participate in Bring-Kids-to-Office days, when they see how their parents and their colleagues work and what they do, they see the world that is usually hiding behind the words “I go to work”; and some of them decide to do choose one of the professions they see. Of course, there are millions of different jobs out there, sometimes open to the public in all the details and sometimes hidden, and when we grow up we choose one of them… or it chooses us (it’s not a secret, that many of us are doing something completely different than what they studied).

The same goes for the job of a buyer. A couple of years ago CIPS (Chattered Institute of Procurement and Supply) started encouraging its members to promote the job so that fewer people come to it by coincidence but more make a conscious choice. It’s not easy, because the awareness of the job’s nature is not there and the best impression of the job even from people who meet us every day is that “a buyer is a person who places orders”, which is not very inspiring. And if you followed our blog, you know how much is happening in the background thanks to a buyer taking care of suppliers, supplies, prices, and ultimately of the business’ money. Some people have no idea at all, why buyers are needed and what they are doing. And the best explanation ever that we gave was “a buyer is a person who makes sure, that every year their business buys cheaper than the year before and who saves money despite inflation”. This already sounds more interesting and challenging and more fun in general.

Unfortunately, as far as we are aware until now buying has been a profession that chooses people and there are no special bachelor or master's programs focusing on this side of business. So, graduates very often start their first job in procurement with a very limited knowledge of the field they are in and they have to build their knowledge from scratch. And that’s how it goes: first, they do only place orders, then sign standard agreements with the suppliers, slowly start participating in supplier negotiations graduating to being in charge of complex multidigit and multiyear contracts, they learn to study markets, perform supplier audits and build supplier relations and finally end up becoming Chief Procurement Officers in charge of budgets and leading teams that are constantly pursuing the best deals.

Did they dream of doing it as a kid? We doubt it unless someone in their family was connected with purchasing already. Was it good that the first job they landed was in Supply Chain? We are sure, it was, as the job is very rewarding and gives an opportunity to apply so many skills – from psychology to economics. Is it worth pursuing? Absolutely! Supply chains in the interconnected world are getting more and more complex and a need in professionals who know how to manage them is only growing.

We must admit that we are glad that the buyer’s job chose us twenty years ago. We had a chance to see how the profession is evolving, how demands change, how relations between a buyer and a supplier are becoming more and more complex. And now we are happy to use this experience to help the EoS4U community as well as buying-is-just-placing-orders-entrepreneurs who are not convinced yet to thrive and save money while purchasing the necessities for their businesses.