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Procurement talent: what do companies want?

Posted on June 2023

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8 key skills companies look for in senior procurement talent

In North and Southeast Asia, companies seeking senior procurement talent prioritize a range of skills, qualifications, and attributes that align with the region's unique business environment and market dynamics.

As talent experts in the space, we uncover the key skills, qualities and attributes that companies look for in their senior procurement candidates, and which ones you should highlight in your next interviews.

1 - Strategic sourcing expertise

Companies value procurement professionals who possess a strong understanding of strategic sourcing processes and methodologies. This includes expertise in market analysis, supplier evaluation and selection, negotiation strategies, and contract management. Demonstrating a track record of successfully optimizing procurement processes, driving cost savings, and implementing innovative sourcing strategies is highly desirable.

2 - Regional market knowledge

Asia's diverse business landscape requires professionals to have a deep understanding of regional markets, cultural nuances, and supply chain dynamics. Companies seek candidates who are familiar with local regulations, customs, and practices, enabling them to navigate complex supplier networks and establish strong relationships with regional suppliers and partners.

3 - Supply Chain Risk Management

Given the volatility and uncertainty of supply chains, companies seek professionals who can effectively mitigate risks and ensure continuity of operations. Expertise in identifying and assessing supply chain risks, developing risk mitigation strategies, and implementing robust supplier risk management frameworks is essential.

4 - Sustainability and ethical sourcing

With a growing focus on sustainability and responsible sourcing practices in Asia, companies seek senior procurement talent who can integrate sustainability considerations into procurement strategies. Demonstrating knowledge of sustainable sourcing practices, compliance with ethical standards, and experience implementing green procurement initiatives aligns with the evolving expectations of businesses and consumers in the region.

A survey conducted by EcoVadis found that 68% of companies in Asia prioritize sustainability and ethical sourcing skills in their senior hires [i]. The focus on responsible sourcing practices aligns with the increasing importance placed on environmental and social considerations in the region.

5 - Cross-functional and cross-regional collaborations

Procurement professionals in Asia are expected to collaborate effectively with cross-functional teams, including stakeholders from finance, operations, legal, and quality assurance. Organizations look for candidates who can build strong relationships, influence decision-making, and effectively communicate with internal stakeholders to align procurement strategies with broader organizational goals.

6 - Digital and analytical skills

Proficiency in digital tools, data analytics, and emerging technologies is highly valued in senior procurement roles. Companies seek candidates who can leverage technology to drive process efficiencies, enhance supplier management, and extract actionable insights from procurement data. Familiarity with e-procurement platforms, data visualization tools, and automation solutions is advantageous.

7 - Leadership and strategic vision

Companies seek senior procurement professionals who can provide strategic leadership, driving organizational transformation and aligning procurement functions with business objectives. Demonstrating strong leadership qualities, change management expertise, and the ability to drive innovation within procurement operations are key attributes sought in senior talent.

8 - Cultural competence and language skills:

Given the diversity of Asian markets, companies often value senior procurement professionals who possess cultural competence and language proficiency relevant to the region. Fluency in local languages, such as Mandarin, Japanese, or Korean, depending on the market, can facilitate effective communication and relationship-building with suppliers and stakeholders. In fact, DSJ Global's historical placements with Asia-based clients indicated that language skills were considered essential for ~78% of senior procurement roles in Asia.

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