Are Buyers Born or Made?

Are people drawn to a career in purchasing because of their skills or their aptitude?  Which is the most important trait for a buyer: emotional intelligence or IQ?

Is successful procurement about having a range of skills which you can develop to get ahead, or is it a question of your personality type being drawn to the profession because you have the appropriate traits to win through?

A cross-section of public sector buyers are to be brought together at Bangor University’s Management centre on Friday 2 March to test out this proposition using some light-hearted personality tests and a competency profiling kit.  The ultimate aim is to carry out research, develop practical solutions and deliver training events for buyers and small suppliers to improve the procurement experience.

“We are hoping participants will learn something about themselves and why they do the job they do. By exploring what it is to be a buyer, the vital components of procurement competencies will be uncovered. This will contribute to our research and will determine future workshop topics,” explained Kay Smith, Public Procurement Specialist at Bangor University’s Law School Winning in Tendering project, who also contributes to procurement teaching at the Management Centre.

Kay explains: “There are lots of courses out there delivering traditional skills training, we wanted to start from the beginning by looking at the kind of job purchasing is, and the type of person who might be drawn to the profession or successful in it.”

It is not just about the hard traditional skills but also the softer skills; these are often overlooked because the role has developed from a traditional, transactional mindset to a profession with a strategic role to play in all organisations.

 “This strategic role requires a different perspective. Purchasing is certainly more of an art than a science, especially in the public sector where probably the most important skill is influencing. Working in the public sector, I would say emotional intelligence is often as important as IQ, so softer skills are the ones to develop. I hope that this pilot and future workshops dealing with emotional intelligence and mentoring will provide an opportunity to hone these skills”.

“We would like this workshop to be an enjoyable and informative introduction to the WIT project and to help us develop ideas for a procurement competency framework. It is the first in a series we are planning to develop for buyers, to achieve our project aim of contributing to the long term development of procurement staff and to inform our research. There will also be a parallel series for the small suppliers of Wales and Ireland,” said Prof Dermot Cahill, Project Director and Head of Bangor’s School of Law.

The Wining In Tendering (WIT) project was set up to carry out research, develop practical solutions and deliver training events for buyers and small suppliers to improve the procurement experience.

Publication date: 27 February 2012