A day in the life

Hear first hand from buyers about the exciting aspects of their job that made them choose a career in purchasing.
CALLUM CURRIN - BRITISH AIRWAYS
ANNA CARAFFI – GSK

CALLUM CURRIN - BRITISH AIRWAYS

 

 


How did you get into procurement?

After studying BSc Geography at Kings College in London, I decided to take a year out to travel, going from Melbourne to Tokyo the long way round.  I decided to look on the internet while in Japan at the graduate recruitment schemes. The BA procurement scheme jumped out at me and I decided to do the application one evening in a Tokyo internet café. After five months – and many hoops – I started as a graduate buyer at British Airways. I have been working towards my CIPS qualifications ever since and am looking forward to a long career in procurement.

 

If you’re at a party and someone asks what you do, how do you explain it?

Most people do not really know what procurement involves so I tell people that I am a buyer at British Airways, which is always followed with: “Oh wow, do you buy planes?”. My job is all about getting the best commercial deal for British Airways – it may not always be the cheapest as a number of variables can affect the total cost of ownership. I am heavily involved in negotiation, contract management and contract drafting, but the role offers many different tasks, from assisting in recruitment to conducting presentations on the role of the procurement department to the rest of the business.

 

What does an average working day involve for you?
I have already had two roles within BA, as a fuel buyer and a customer product and catering buyer, and both had very different average days. That is the beauty of being in procurement – it’s the same job, but the tasks are miles apart. The role involves a lot of engaging with internal stakeholders, suppliers, tender participants and colleagues. I draft contracts and compliance to ensure BA is protected and a fair process is followed. My work can involve meeting suppliers worldwide.

 

What do you like best about your role?

I like the variety and the responsibility it brings. We can directly affect the performance of the company and many of the things we buy are visible to the customer. Last year, I was buying the quarter bottles of wine for economy and the champagne for business and first class – it’s great to get on a plane and see the result of all that work. I have been involved in projects offering challenges and providing variety, which makes me glad I chose procurement.

 

What’s been the highlight of your role to date?

Working for such a large organisation, there are a number of opportunities. I have been lucky enough to work on some high-profile projects including catering and BMI integration. My highlight to date has been signing my first contract. Projects often take months to complete and when you sign the contracts you really feel you have achieved something.

 

Do you have a career plan? If so, what is your long-term aim?

In the short term, I want to see as much of BA procurement as possible and pick up knowledge in as many areas as I can. Becoming MCIPS is also a priority. I would like to be known as a hard-working individual who consistently delivers results on time. The best thing anyone can hope from their career is to succeed and have variety in their role.

 

In hindsight, is there any advice you would have given to yourself when you graduated?

There are so many jobs out there that you will never have heard of or thought about, so expand your horizons and apply for everything you think looks interesting. Also, being academic is only part of the story. Interview questions require breadth and depth so do as many extracurricular activities as possible: jobs, volunteering and travel give you that little bit extra that gets you the job offer.

 

Any other points?
Buying comes in many different forms and there is something for everyone in large organisations. Tenders vary from logistics to computer software and a graduate scheme allows you to see lots of these areas. You may stumble across something you love, but had never thought about.

ANNA CARAFFI – GSK

 

 


How did you get into procurement?

During my degree at Bath University, I took an industrial placement year working for Kraft Foods at its coffee manufacturing plant in the business development department. I worked closely with many other functions, including procurement. This gave me my first real understanding of what procurement was all about. I liked the idea of working and building relationships with suppliers as well as internal customers.

 

If you’re at a party and someone asks what you do, how do you explain it?

In short – I’m a buyer! In my last job, I supported the carton category for UK, Ireland and France within the paper packaging team so I would explain it as: “I buy cardboard”!

 

What does an average working day involve for you?

My current role is in the project management offi ce (PMO) for a large savings project within indirect procurement. As a result, I sit in daily meetings with the rest of the PMO team and the chief procurement offi cer (CPO). We highlight any issues and wins, as well as escalations to the CPO that could prevent us achieving our target and we also discuss on-going initiatives. I spend some of my day talking with the leads of the identified workstreams within the project to offer any support with their savings levers. I also collate the weekly update from the 11 workstreams, which I compile into a presentation for the CPO and workstream leads.

 

What do you like best about the role?

My current role is extremely interesting because it gives a new perspective on the procurement organisation within GSK. My previous roles have been commodity focused, whereas this job has given me exposure to the high-level view of procurement and the direction the new CPO is taking it.

 

What’s been the highlight of your role to date?

Highlights include negotiating directly with suppliers and delivering incremental savings to the business. In my new role, it is being part of a project due to deliver large savings before December 2012.

 

Do you have a career plan? If so, what is your long-term aim?

My career plan is coming together as I come to the end of my time on the graduate scheme. The short-term plan is to find a Permanent job within GSK’s post-graduate scheme. The longer-term plan is to gain further experience in different procurement teams (direct and indirect procurement) with the intention of moving into a managerial role in four to five years.

Source - Supply Management Guide to Procurement Careers

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