#eVAForum2013 The procurement professional’s Achilles heel by Jon Hansen

Posted on November 5, 2013


“Procurement professionals are great at delivering value, but terrible at promoting their value to their organization and beyond.”

This is the statement I made to open my second session at last weeks 25th Annual Public Procurement Forum in Virginia.

Titled Strategically Speaking: Procurement, the Organization and You, I focused on the significant changes that are taking place not only within our own profession but within the larger business world as a whole.  This included a detailed breakdown on how both Finance and IT professionals are themselves going through a major transformation, and what it means in terms of the dissolution of the functional silos that had for too long restricted rather than stimulate enterprise-wide collaboration.

As exciting a time as it is, to fully capitalize on this much larger and more diversified stage, procurement professionals need to become more adept at branding themselves and the value we bring.  Or as Roz Usheroff put it in her new book The Future of You! Creating Your Enduring Brand, “if we fail to define and manage our own brand, others will do it for us.”  Recalling the CPO Agenda Roundtable discussion from a few years ago in which senior executives indicated that the best person to run a procurement department is someone who does not have a procurement background, leaving the management of our brand to a third party is obviously not a viable option.

What was the most memorable and interesting training you have done at the Academy?
The most memorable training was certainly our executive presence training with Roz Usheroff. That was the first time the idea of a “brand” came to life for me; Roz knew nothing about us before we walked into her training, so she was able to give us an objective view of how we were perceived and offer constructive criticism based on that.

What I found interesting is that this concept of personal and professional branding, that only a few short years ago was generally dismissed as being an exercise in self-serving promotion, is gaining significant traction throughout all areas of the business world.

In the above referenced quote, SAP Retail Sales Account Executive Lauren Iaces talks about the company’s Academy and the benefits of attending Usheroff’s training session on branding.  Specifically, how she brought the “idea” of a brand “to life.”

SAP on Roz's Course

So this prompts the question . . . why are we as procurement professionals so terrible at promoting our brand?  Of even greater importance is what do we have to do to learn how to better brand ourselves and create a public persona that truly reflects who we are, what we do and why we are important to an organization’s success.

The first and most important step is to acknowledge that we need to do a better job of promoting our value.  This was a point I am happy to say, that was not lost on the Virginia audience.  In other words, they got it!

The next step is to buy Usheroff’s book and take her on-line branding video course on Udemy.  After all, your seat at the executive table awaits.