Ever since the days I spent working at car boot sales with my grandparents I’ve always had a passion for sales and negotiating. There is no wonder then that after my master's in supply chain management I realised I wanted to pursue a career in procurement - the perfect mix of negotiating, selling and collaboration. After searching and applying for multiple graduate schemes I had a number of offers on the table - with BP’s offer standing tall above the rest - and I enrolled on the indirect procurement (IP) graduate scheme in 2016.
Indirect procurement is the sourcing of all goods and services for a business. ‘indirect’ categories are varied and include information technology related services (hardware, software), human resources related services (recruitment agencies, training), facilities management and office services. In today’s increasingly competitive marketplace, it is vital to cut costs wherever possible in order to increase the company’s profits and grow into the future. Indirect spend has a monumental effect on any business, and we need to manage it effectively.
My main responsibility is to assist and lead procurement projects which both save costs and reduce risk. One of the first projects I ran was for a disaster recovery site (an alternative office location in the event of a disaster) for our trading team in Canada Square. We had to make sure that the time it took to get the office up and running was as quick as possible or else the financial damage from loss of trading time could be catastrophic.
I run end-to-end sourcing projects from conception to delivery, manage stakeholder expectations, understand the landscape of the market place and negotiate with suppliers, as well as providing stakeholders with complex information technology services and presenting them with sourcing strategies.
I get to work with some of today’s leading technology companies such as IBM, HP and Microsoft, so every day brings a new challenge and no two days are ever the same.
Planning and organizational skills are essential elements of any role but especially in procurement. The ability to prioritise tasks and focus on the most pressing issues of the day is key.
It is also important to check what may have changed overnight as we work with the US team in many areas and are sometimes required to pick up work from the western hemisphere.
One of the favourite elements of my position is the continuous learning and development that BP supports, helping you to gain professional qualifications such as information technology infrastructure library (ITIL) and chartered institute of procurement and supply (CIPS), while continuing to develop you as a procurement professional. Within a very short space of time within indirect procurement you are given a high level of autonomy and responsibility, getting to lead negotiations with market-leading global organizations for large financial values. Generating cost savings for the business - which has a tangible contribution to the future profits of BP - is very satisfying to see. It may be my first year in the role, but the level of responsibility grows as time goes on and the negotiation experience you gain at this level is invaluable. Working with experienced procurement professionals to enhance and develop my own skillset is also fantastic. BP has high-calibre, experienced individuals with a wealth of industry knowledge and this helps develop all employees at all levels.
I also enjoy the varied nature of the challenger scheme. Over the three-year programme, I will rotate in three separate areas of the business. This gives me a rounded experience and the opportunity to see which business best suits my personality and preferences. It opens many avenues of possibilities for my future career and for young people this is an incredible opportunity.
Procurement can be an extremely challenging career choice due to the many complexities and nuances of the trade. For example, we may have stakeholders within different teams, all with their own image of how an ideal service will operate. We also deal with organizations that are larger than BP who feel they have an ‘upper hand’ in negotiations. There can also be internal resistance to the procurement function from stakeholders which is often generated from a lack of understanding of the benefits that procurement practices can bring. Communication, negotiation and influencing skills are key to overcoming this resistance; providing assurance that procurement’s input can improve business performance.
The key to success in the challenger programme is being able to apply the things you learn to each new challenges and circumstances – while making sure to learn from both your failures and successes. A wide range of collaborative, organizational, and communication based skills are essential to a challenger’s success and the ability to show innovation, think outside of the box and adapt to any change in circumstances are key. And - as with any career choice - enthusiasm, dedication and confidence are important.
Top-calibre professionals in procurement and supply chain management ensure we buy goods and services that deliver commercial and competitive advantage
Joining one of our programmes, you’ll enjoy real responsibility from day one and the freedom to choose your own path