Retaining and Motivating Procurement Talent with Charlotte de Brabandt

Retaining and Motivating Procurement Talent

For this episode, we welcome a familiar guest on HICX’s webinars and the Supplier Experience Live podcast, Charlotte de Brabandt. Charlotte is a speaker, trainer, and ambassador for the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), with over 10 years of experience in global procurement. In this podcast, Charlotte joins us to discuss the importance of retaining and motivating today’s procurement talent to become leaders of tomorrow. We explore:

Why now is the time to be in Procurement

Charlotte begins the discussion with the observation that Procurement has certainly changed from being tactical to being highly strategic, with a strong focus on value creation for all stakeholders. “We are currently in the midst of a digital shift, in which we’re embracing new technologies in Procurement, to help us become a lot more strategic in the future,” she claims.

Charlotte expects a trend towards autonomous Procurement, meaning that professionals will be able to re-allocate the time and resources they would have spent on manual tasks (such as raising purchase orders and negotiations), to instead focus on the long-term vision of the Procurement function.

Procurement leaders of the future

In order to achieve that long-term strategic vision, she believes that the Procurement leaders of the future will need to possess certain soft skills:

  • Communication and emotional intelligence: Since the start of the pandemic, the world has shifted into a virtual and digital way of working (and living). Communication – and the way people interact – has changed; workplaces have to adapt.
  • Problem-solving: Professionals with problem-solving skills should always be curious about how to solve problems of the future and how to embrace new technologies which will help them achieve that.
  • Change management: Charlotte believes leaders should not be afraid of change or of going in a different direction and making decisions.
  • Collaboration and inclusiveness: These are vital. “As a leader, you don’t necessarily need to have all of the skills, but you recruit a team that has the skills and learn from the team. In this way, you can learn and grow together,” she points out.

Charlotte also shared her opinions on the skills and areas to focus on which are important for Procurement leaders today, which should define the culture of the team and enable them to advance:

  • Authenticity: Today more than ever before, teams are made of multiple generations who work in different ways. “As an authentic leader, you need to be able to listen carefully to the team, understand what all the different superpowers are that you have in the team, have self-awareness, understand the long-term vision, and be able to communicate that to the team,” she states.
  • Courage: Courageous leaders are not afraid to take risks and bring both good and bad news to their superiors to establish overall trust among everyone.
  • People-centricity: Charlotte reminds us not to forget the power of recognition, especially for younger generations that thrive on frequent feedback.

Keeping procurement professionals motivated through various disruptions

As most Procurement professionals agree, the industry for far too long has been focused on cutting costs as a priority. However, once COVID hit, many organizations realized that they were not necessarily their suppliers’ customers-of-choice, especially if they had been focusing on those few percent cost savings, rather than building long-term relationships and partnerships.

“I think this has taught us, as procurement professionals, that we need to change our approach and we should not be living in this old school procurement world. The past has taught us that we need to engage more in relationships, we need to build partnerships going forward,” Charlotte believes.

The pandemic has also shown us that remote working is possible, and while there are certainly benefits to working from the comfort of our homes, Charlotte believes humans are social beings who require a mix of both home and office work, with the right balance. A part of achieving that balance will be having clear communication, setting expectations and giving teams flexibility in the way they work.

For the new generation of professionals currently entering the procurement industry, in order to get up to speed and stay competitive in the market, Charlotte suggests discovering what their own goals are and evaluating what they are most skilled at by asking questions and engaging in conversations with their superiors.

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