The start of 2022
Predictions for 2022 and how did we do in 2021?

Here are the 5 predictions we made for the Procurement & Supply Chain community in 2021 and our view for 2022.

1) An Increase in ‘Permanent’ Recruitment   Correct

Our 2020 annual survey confirmed that over 54% of organisations planned to maintain or grow their permanent teams in 2021.

Although the start to 2021 was slow, after the spring, permanent recruitment rose significantly based around the need to deliver key projects such as; Cost reduction, widening the supply base, reducing supply chain risk, developing robust supplier management, improving supplier partnerships to support innovation, sustainability projects, improving spend analytics and supply chain monitoring.

We expect this positive view to continue in 2022, however the challenge for a lot of organisations is and will continue to be finding the right talent. From our current experiences, internal recruiters are struggling to fill strategic appointments as they do not have the market reach or candidate network. We are increasingly working with talent acquisition teams to help them leverage their brand with ‘hard to find’ candidates.

2) Growth in ‘Greenfield’ leadership roles  ✓X Nearly

There are a surprising number of organisations in the SME and Mid-Cap market who still do not have a procurement team, or have limited access to strategic procurement & supply chain leadership.

It was evident from our own experiences in 2020 that more greenfield leadership roles were coming to market. We expected to see more of these in 2021 with a focus on transformation, strategy and building new teams.

In truth, this was partially correct, however the continued uncertainties equally led to an increase in management consulting support delivering some of these improvement projects. We expect an upturn in ‘greenfield’ procurement leadership roles in 2022.

3) Changes to our work-life balance  Correct

For some, the opportunity of a better work-life balance moving forward is one of the few positives to take away from the pandemic. Again, there will be a different approach in each sector.

The way organisations have adapted to remote working has seen a fundamental change in the landscape, to the extent that some will never go back to the 5-day ‘in the office’ working week. However, there will be a need to balance this, especially as all members of the team need to consider mental health awareness, training, guidance and personal interaction, not all of which can be delivered by Zoom or Teams.

In 2022, offering remote or blended hybrid working patterns will ease recruitment challenges by widening the talent search parameters for many organisations.

4) More uncertainty in the short-term  Correct

The key learning from this year, even though we’re optimistic for 2022, is that we must not get ahead of ourselves too soon.

There is a long way to go in the recovery stage and Procurement & Supply Chain functions must continue to focus on preparation for the unpredictable and ensuring their strategies are robust and this will be as important, if not more so in 2022.

This may help the increase in Interim consultancy opportunities now the challenges of IR35 are understood better. These will either be directly with clients, or as part of established management consultancies who are building greater flexibility in their delivery capability with the development of Interim Associate panels, to flex their capacity when needed.

5) Functional Visibility & Value to grow  Correct

Prior to Covid, most procurement and supply chain functions largely operated in the background, only receiving limited attention in the national media, or people’s day-to-day lives. Now however, the nation has an opinion on everything from international supply chain risks, to public sector procurement.

This elevation into the national psyche requires business leaders to ensure they hire and keep the best talent, whether it’s permanent, Interim, or external consulting project support, to improve bottom-line performance, manage risk and develop the ‘sustainability’ future proofing strategies that consumers now expect to be visible as part of any businesses brand values.

 

As we bring the year towards a close, we wish everyone a healthy 2022 and the resilience to any shifts in the pandemic, to help deliver strong economic recovery and greater business opportunities. 

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO EVERYONE

 

ProSearch Christmas Social

Starting a new Career during the COVID-19 Pandemic – Matt Davis, Group Procurement Director, Brush Group

Matt joined Brush in September this year, following a recruitment process that had to adapt to the changing COVID-19 restrictions. We talk about Brush, the new role and the challenges of changing careers in the middle of a global pandemic. Here are excerpts of the conversation with Tony Goldsby for the ProSearch monthly Social.

Q) Matt, when we started our discussions earlier this year, the sole focus was to find the right person at the right time for Brush and for you personally to ensure it was the right career move, which was made all the more challenging due to the lockdown. Taking this in to account, what was the challenge that finally attracted you to join Brush?

A) Following the research on the group as an organisation, ultimately the attraction was the opportunity to join the world’s largest independent manufacturer of generators and shape the strategic direction of their global procurement function.

Previously, I had worked in a number of senior procurement roles driving change in large corporate environments, however the opportunity to join, in a new role for the group, to support collaboration and define the strategy of the function was something that drew on my previous experience and ultimately was something that really attracted me to join Brush.

That definitely came across in our discussions. It was very evident you had interesting transferable skills in related sectors, however you had also gone out of your own comfort zone and worked in other environments that stretched your experiences.

Yes, the opportunity to move in to a predominantly direct procurement environment and broaden my expertise was also a big attraction. I had worked in direct materials previously, however recently the roles were more services focused. Whilst this also represents a big opportunity for the group, direct materials management is important to our operations as a manufacturing business.

At the point we started talking, we had just entered the worst part of COVID-19 and the first lockdown which was the most concerning, as we had never experienced anything like this before. Also, this was both a personal and a family decision, in considering a career change from a secure role in the middle of a global pandemic. What were your thoughts at that time?

Anyone would have a degree of uncertainty due to the nature of COVID-19 and the speed of change we were all experiencing across the world. My main concern was the potential of joining a company and just being a virtual colleague. I am fully aware how important it is to build personal relationships in business and ultimately that’s best done in person.

Fortunately, I joined prior to the additional COVID-19 measures coming in to place in October in Wales and I was able to travel in the UK to meet key colleagues and stakeholders and although International travel is limited, that was important.

I think ultimately that was my biggest initial concern, having recruited colleagues in my previous role in a COVID-19 restricted environment, the ability to meet people in the first few weeks and months in a new role, is a finite window of opportunity to build lasting relationships and as good as can be to operate virtually, there’s nothing like meeting face to face.

Fortunately, I was able to do that, I wasn’t in a position to shake hands as everything rightly was managed safely at distance, however it still enables you to build trust and an understanding of the key drivers for the business.

Now you’ve had time to think about how to support the procurement team in the UK and Internationally with restricted travel and COVID-19 challenges, will that make supporting the team easier, or more challenging?

Fortunately, I have quite a lot of experience of managing virtual teams in the UK and Europe, and I have learned to adapt and embrace online communication via a range of different platforms. Also, as everyone has had to adapt to daily communication challenges over the last 9 months, the pandemic has accelerated the speed of change in how teams work together and communicate.

What were the positive surprises about working in lockdown? And what were the biggest challenges?

The speed of change is remarkable and as no-one has had any choice, everyone views video communication tools as a key part of the business estate and a necessary part of daily working practices. This has allowed people to become accustomed and comfortable with remote working, which I believe has been a positive change particularly for procurement. 

Brush have recently rolled out a group wide platform and everyone is familiar with video communication and it does open doors, we are just a click away from talking with colleagues across the globe. After COVID-19 I believe this will still be the norm, reducing overheads and pressures on the need to travel, saving time and helping to break down barriers when communicating with colleagues internationally. 

In terms of meeting with people, the previous challenges of diary alignment and even the incidental issues of meeting room availability and catering, are now a thing of the past and everyone is used to meeting quickly and are now more likely to be available to talk within a matter of hours. 

Regardless of all the negatives, the pandemic has united people and given everyone a common challenge, breaking down barriers and bringing people together. You can never replace meeting people and shaking their hand, however with the current restrictions we are making the best of the situation that we are faced with.

How has the pandemic/lockdown affected the daily operations at Brush?

I’m delighted to say that Brush has come through 2020 largely unaffected. I know a lot of businesses can’t say that at the moment, so a real positive. The production at our sites in Plzeň, Loughborough and Blackwood have all continued throughout the lockdown without too much disruption. 

We have also learned from our colleagues in the Czech Republic who encountered the challenges of COVID-19 earlier than the UK. They had put in place good health and safety measures that helped them manage the challenges of the pandemic and we took those learnings and applied them across the business operations and we saw the benefits of that in terms of safeguarding our employees. 

Our aftersales business has obviously been impacted slightly due to travel restrictions, however again we have been able to adapt, introducing new ways of working, even down to virtual factory acceptance testing which has been really welcomed and well received and will be seen as an option to continue post-pandemic as it reduces travel and costs for customers.

What is the vision for the procurement & supply chain team in 2020/21?

I am now 80 days in to the 100-day plan and I have already seen the great work across the sites by the procurement team. My main focus is to embrace the ‘One Brush’ vision, and support greater international collaboration, ensuring that Brush procurement continues to set the industry standard in terms of working practices and innovation to give even greater value to our customers. 

I am still learning about the business however these will be the key drivers in terms of enhancing and developing the procurement strategy and vision.

Having gone through a virtual recruitment process yourself, what lessons have you learned about the interview process during a lockdown? Also, you were fortunate enough due to this, to meet a wider range of stakeholders than would have been possible in a normal physical meeting. Would you continue with this in the future? 

Absolutely, I would. The opportunity of meeting a broader set of stakeholders was a real selling point and gave me a great deal of reassurance in terms of the business I was joining, the people I would be working with and the relationships I would build. 

Personally, I really enjoyed the video interviews and would definitely use the same process when recruiting myself in the future. If you had asked me that 9 months ago, I might have given you a different answer, however the speed of change in the use of video due to COVID-19 and getting used to seeing yourself on screen, has meant we have all become accustomed to using these platforms. 

Also, as a candidate, I found the meetings a lot more relaxed than the formality of a traditional interview. Of course, you miss the human interaction and body language that you can pick up on in physical meetings, however the benefits of being interviewed from the safe environment of your own home can help make the discussions far more natural. 

This was also down to the team at Brush who made the process very open and a 2-way discussion, to make sure the fit was right for everyone.

How do you think the Coronavirus pandemic will change employers’ perception of remote working going forward?

I can certainly give my own personal view. The business is obviously having to react to the various changing restrictions and will respond to the challenges they face, whilst seeking to be agile and managing the safety of our staff. 

Maintaining the safety of our employees has been key and very noticeable in the short amount of time I have worked at Brush, with regular health and safety communications which recognise the mixed communications and different quarantine restrictions across our various sites in England and Wales. 

I am based in my local business in Blackwood and I have seen the efforts being taken to communicate the standards, putting in place clear safety measures, also investing in technology to test staff temperatures daily to isolate any potential problems at an early stage. 

Personally, I think it will change the way we work for ever. I have been fortunate enough to be able to work flexibly for a number of years at different companies, without the level of technology that we have today and although previously a lot of companies had concerns about remote working, the last 6 months has blown away any misconceptions and archaic thought processes in terms of trust and supporting their team to deliver. Having proven that it can work with the right team and technology support, I am absolutely convinced we will never return to the way we worked before the pandemic.   

If you can empower your employees and give them the right tools then you will see the benefits, the challenge comes from finding the right work-life balance, which is the biggest potential risk in the current environment. Certain people may be confined to their own 4 walls for large parts of the day, and they will need to find the right balance between work, family and personal health. 

Every manager needs to be aware of their teams’ personal challenges and empathise with them, supporting them differently based on their individual situation and needs. Also, recognising that for some people having access to an office work space is really important, as home working may not be right for them and to understand that one size doesn’t fit all. 

What advice would you give to others starting a new role during the pandemic, especially those who are unsure about starting a new career during a future lockdown? 

I would encourage anyone to go out and look for their next career move, with the caveat that they will need to do their own personal due diligence and ensure they reduce any potential risks. This is always important, however in these current circumstances it’s more important than ever. 

It’s really important to engage with the people you are going to work with, both through the recruitment process and gaining access to a broader cross section of people and stakeholders including team members, prior to accepting any offer. This will help break down any barriers and gives you an opportunity to find out more about the company, the culture and the people and getting a better feel for the fit. 

Also, from my own experience of Brush, the people and their commitment to supporting me and ensuring I have the right work life balance was critical in helping me make the decision to join and I would manage the process the same in the future when I am involved in any recruitment. 

I think it’s important to take the right opportunities when they present themselves. In procurement, our role is to help manage risk and it’s the same with your own personal career. As long as you do your own due diligence and it’s the right role, then ‘go for it’, life is too short. 

End

 

BRUSH. TRUST. WELL EARNED.

The BRUSH Group is the world’s largest independent manufacturer of generators above 20MVA. With a comprehensive range of products and services including transformers, switchgear, portable generating sets and control & monitoring systems, BRUSH is your ideal partner for electric power generation, distribution monitoring and control.

BRUSH has been a key figure within Electrical Engineering for over 130 years, offering a wide range of ‘electrical machines’, and providing their customers with the highest calibre equipment and after sales service. This unrivalled offering includes Turbo Generators, Motors, Power Transformers, MV Switchgear, Diesel Generators and Power Management Systems. T

To find out more visit www.brush.eu

 

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Goodbye 2020, Hello 2021

Things can only get better, right?

As the end of the year gets closer, the annual tradition is to write a review of the year, how it compared with our expectations from last year and the predictions for next year. However, let’s be honest, nobody could have foreseen the events that transpired 3 months into the year and nobody cares too much to revisit most of the events of 2020!

You cannot hide from the fact that it is highly likely that the world will never be the same again. No more so than in the way we work and the way organisations plan to recruit. 

However, it’s not all ‘doom & gloom’, there will be positives as we move through the recovery phase. So, let’s look to 2021 with optimism. Here are 5 predictions for the Procurement & Supply Chain community in 2021.

1. An Increase in ‘Permanent’ Recruitment

Green shoots of recovery are already appearing, with an increase of over 25% in permanent recruitment from Q3 to Q4 in 2020. This is predicted to continue in an upward curve in Q1 and Q2 next year.

Okay you would expect that more organisations would recruit in 2021 than in 2020, however, in our recent Covid Recruitment Survey Results there were some interesting and positive results including the fact that over 54% of organisations surveyed are planning to maintain or grow their permanent teams in 2021. (and this was before there were any realistic hopes of a vaccine).

Key reasons for increasing headcount in 2021 are different in each sector, however include projects such as; Sustainable cost reduction, where possible widening the supply base, reducing supply chain risk, developing robust supplier management, improving supplier partnerships to support innovation, sustainability projects, improving spend analytics and supply chain monitoring practices.

2. Growth in ‘Greenfield’ Procurement leadership roles

Over the years’ procurement has become more strategic as it moves away from pure cost reduction, to a focus on overall value add and has developed a seat at the boardroom table. However, there are still a surprising number of organisations in the SME and Mid-Cap market with multi-million spend, who still have no procurement leadership.

It’s evident from our own experiences in 2020 that more greenfield leadership roles are coming to market. Organisations with significant spend volumes, with little by way of a procurement or supply chain function are now facing up to the fact that the world is moving too fast to stay in ‘status quo’ mode. Whether it’s because of acquisition and mergers, supply chain partnerships or financial pressures, Covid has elevated the importance of ‘best practice’ procurement and supply chain in these organisations. We expect to see more greenfield roles with a focus on transformation, strategy and building teams in 2021.

3. Changes to our work-life balance

For some, the opportunity of a better work-life balance moving forward is one of the few positives to take away from the pandemic. Again, there will be a different approach in each sector.

The way organisations have adapted to remote working has seen a fundamental change in the landscape, to the extent that some will never go back to the 5-day ‘in the office’ working week. However, there will be a need to balance this, especially as all members of the team need to consider mental health awareness, training, guidance and personal interaction, not all of which can be delivered by Zoom or Teams.

Whilst some will argue it hasn’t worked for them, as they now ‘Live at work, rather than working from home’, the general consensus appears to be that flexible and remote working has been embraced and the pandemic has given employers and employees the opportunity to demonstrate it can work. The majority seem to be in favour of blended working, home based with planned office or increasingly post-vaccine travel days to suppliers and partners.

Others are happy to continue with complete remote working to expand their access to more experienced staff, and people who need the flexibility due to childcare and family support. Expect this strategy to be a popular one, with companies in locations that have limited access to the best talent.

Offering remote or blended working will ease recruitment challenges by widening the search parameters.

4. More uncertainty in the short-term

The key learning from this year, even though we’re optimistic, is that we must not get ahead of ourselves too soon. There is a long way to go in the recovery stage and Procurement & Supply Chain functions must continue to focus on preparation for the unpredictable and ensuring their strategies are robust.

Whether it’s Covid, Brexit, IR35 or other geopolitical tensions, there will always be disruptions in this never-normal world we now inhabit. And with uncertainty comes risk and opportunity, which requires a better understanding of what risks apply to your world.

Even though this can mean more hurdles to jump through when it comes to getting sign-off for increased headcount, this is an opportunity to challenge the norm and organisational inertia. Whether it’s engaging with transformation consultancy support, or experienced Interims who can support key business projects, there are ways to get key business initiatives moving prior to recruiting the right permanent team when the business has seen the benefits.

For Interims, who know that feeling of a role being put ‘on hold’, unfortunately there is likely to be more of this. Also, if IR35 goes the wrong way in the UK due to HMRC intransigence then the likely opportunities will exist in the mid-range consultancy market, where organisations take on consultancies to deliver transformation, fixed cost or gain share projects.

The closer we get to April the clearer the challenge and the opportunities will be.

 5. Procurement & Supply Chain value to grow to all-time high

Prior to Covid the functions largely operated in the background, only receiving limited attention in the national media, or people’s day-to-day lives.

The old adage: “You don’t know what you’ve got, until it’s gone”, is partially true, however the real truth is, we all knew what we had, we just never thought we would lose it. This rings true for a large percentage of the nation, who now have an opinion, or an apparent expertise in how to buy everything from PPE to Vaccines to Supply Chain challenges due to the down side of Brexit. National lockdowns and social distancing measures exposed serious weak points in the supply chain, causing delays and disruptions which affect people’s daily lives and now they want to know more.

This elevation in to the national psyche requires that business leaders cannot ignore, or be seen to ignore, the obvious benefits of hiring the right leadership and talent, whether it’s permanent, Interim, or from external support, to understand the numbers, the risk and the best way to manage how they develop the vision for the future.

This year has been an incredibly challenging year for everyone, and as we bring the year towards a close and with a vaccine on the horizon, lets wish everyone a much better 2021 where the recovery will bring with it opportunity. And what better way to finish off this year than reading an article without the word ‘unprecedented’ in it! Damn it, knew I couldn’t do it!

 

From all of us at ProSearch we looking forward to working with you in 2021 and would like to wish all our friends, colleagues and clients a very Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year (or at least as good as you can in a socially distanced tiered lockdown!)

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ProSearch November ‘Social’

Taken from a recent interview with Richard Marshall, Editor of Supply Chain Online, here are excerpts of that conversation.

When did you first start out in the Recruitment industry?

After a few years working in the automotive sector and having finished college and university, I decided to travel and work in Australia. I met with my first ever recruitment agency, a small specialist International recruitment firm. I had several interviews and after a few weeks they suggested I join them. They promised, I could work for them and choose any job I liked in Australia if I gave them 6 months of my time, so I joined and I was still there 15 years later, having had the good fortune of being part of a management buy-out.

When and how did ProSearch come about?

I had previously worked with the Managing Partners of Procura Consulting and knew the team well, so I was attracted to join and establish a recruitment practice as part of the group. Procura are a specialist Procurement & Supply Chain consultancy, with cost reduction teams, spend analytics and procurement framework solutions and a recruitment practice was a natural development, as it blended well with the other services.

ProSearch allows the Procura group to deliver a one-stop solution to clients, before, during and after consulting projects. We have grown and now have our own local and international client base.

What kind of roles do ProSearch specialise in, and which regions do you cover?

We recruit at all levels across procurement & supply chain from Analyst to CPO. We have a range of solutions, from ‘Accredited’ Interim associates who can work as part of the consulting team projects and solus Interim consulting roles, through to Search solutions recruiting ‘hard to fill’ category specialists, management and senior executive roles. We also provide clients with access to procurement capability assessment tools for recruitment and training support services.

Our specialist search pedigree, developed across international search assignments, is now proving particularly useful in local recruitment projects. The covid-era has obvious challenges and where companies seek more procurement & supply chain capacity & capability, we have developed innovative solutions to attract, recruit and train the right talent for clients across the UK, Europe and US.

What sets ProSearch apart from your competitors?

We are the only UK based international recruitment practice that operates as a standalone recruitment business and as part of a larger Procurement Consulting group. This broader consultancy pedigree offers our clients access to a greater range of functional, local and global networks and expertise.

Due to this, we deliver a wider range of services that draw on our combined experiences, including Interim, Permanent, Executive Search, Talent Pipelines, Capability Assessment, Training and Fixed cost project support, which responds well to our clients’ current challenges.

What’s been the biggest challenge you and the company have faced since launch?

Starting any business is never easy, however, we knew the market, the broader expertise around us and we were confident about our strategy. I would have to admit in late March we along with everyone else were challenged by the unknown factors around the pandemic. Prior to Covid-19, we developed our services around the prospect of IR35 and Brexit challenges, we didn’t realise at the time how relevant they would be to the times we are living through now.

There can be no doubt that the rise of social media has had a significant impact on the recruitment industry. What impact does social media have on the way you work at Procura Search?

It is at the heart of everything we do, even more so since the rise of the pandemic. We are learning every day, how to develop good content, what platforms work and when, how to track and report and use the data to make sure you are doing the right thing at the right time.

The advantage of being part of a broader consulting group, is the access to good content and a wider audience of clients and stakeholders, all of who have an opinion and are happy to tell us when we are doing something wrong, as well as right, which is healthy and keeps the business on its toes.

How has the lockdown affected the day to day operations at ProSearch?

During the first few days of lockdown, we drew breath just like everyone else. The uncertainty, meant we had to talk with more people, find out what was happening in the market and try and build in contingencies to protect us in the worst- case scenario.

However, we were fortunate not to have to furlough, we work in a functional area which is busy and the majority of our clients are growing their teams, or need access to specialist interim support to help them deliver strategies for the now and the future. Also, the fact that we are an International practice and sector agnostic, means we have a big market to aim at, however like everyone else we will always need to keep our focus.

How are you finding working remotely and do you think the Coronavirus pandemic will change employers’ perception of remote working going forward?

We are all able to work from home when needed and due to the international nature of our business, remote working and travel was always a part of the role, which meant we had the IT systems and video technology to support us already in place.

Ways of working have changed significantly for everyone, which means clients and candidates are all more comfortable to meet online quickly. Meetings which may have taken weeks to schedule can now take hours to arrange and interviewing, shortlisting and recruitment campaigns can be managed significantly quicker, especially with the advent of better recruitment video interview platforms. The changes we have experienced in the last 7 months would probably have taken 5 years to have become best practice without the pandemic.

However, relationships are paramount to recruiting the right talent and building longer-term friendships with the people in our market, will never be the same without the opportunity of meeting face to face and enjoying the company of everyone we work with. It is and will always be, the part of my role I enjoy best.

The way forward has to be a blend of both, the better use of our time, the reduced commute and the continuously improving use of better technology, will allow us to meet at the right time and spend quality time when we do.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

“Learn from your own and other people’s mistakes and encourage others to learn from theirs”. I was fortunate to have mentors in my early career, who helped my personal development with this advice. These lessons have stayed with me.

What’s the latest news at ProSearch?

We recently surveyed an invited audience of over 500 Procurement, Supply Chain and Finance leaders to understand how they were reacting to the pandemic and the changes in remote working. That has led us to fast-track our use of remote assessment tools, online video recruitment solutions and technology to help us manage the relationships with our accredited Interims. A lot is happening in a short time, so watch this space.

Where would you like ProSearch to be in 5 years’ time?

Continuing to be happy and healthy.

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