Purchasing manager

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Lisa Davies is procurement manager – supplies and services for a group of companies, including Hotels and Travel Inns. She is based in Dunstable, Bedfordshire.

What are your main responsibilities?

I buy products and services for the Whitbread group of companies. I manager existing contracts with suppliers, checking throughout the three-year contract period to ensure they provide us with the best possible service.

Buyers and department heads in our companies may ask me to find new products and services for them. I research suppliers providing what we need and contact them to quote for the new contract. I meet with them to check on the quality in terms of service they provide to customers, before selecting one and drawing up the contract.

What products and services are involved?

Products can be anything from staff uniforms and name badges, to drinks machines, cutlery and balloons to decorate children's areas of our restaurants! I have to contact companies for regular waste collection, collection of nappy bins and more unusual issues like pest control. It's extremely varied.

What challenges do you face?

I control a £20 million portfolio of contracts, so have to keep on top of the practical details of each one, including quality of service and ensuring they meet the needs of individual companies. At the same time, I'm working on securing new products, services and contracts, so it can be very demanding.

I have to give feedback to suppliers who haven't won contracts. This can be quite uncomfortable sometimes as people can get upset when they've put a lot of work into bidding for a contract.

What skills and qualities are required?

You need the ability to build good working relationships with suppliers, as well as key people within our businesses. It's good to be logical, organised and commercially aware.

Being persuasive and good at negotiation is also important, so you can get the best possible deal with suppliers for your company.

What do you like best about being a purchasing manager?

I really enjoy working in my team – we all support each other. I also enjoy finding out about new machinery and goods, and dealing with negotiations and contracts from beginning to end.

I like the opportunity to work outside of the office too, visiting our suppliers and having meetings with possible new ones. I even went on a business trip to South Africa recently, to see how the work is done overseas.

Do you have any training in your job?

I have to keep up with new legislation. I've recently trained on the Disability Discrimination Act and have been researching products which might be useful to our customers with disabilities – flashing fire alarms and vibrating pillows for deaf people, for example.

I'm also working on the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply's professional qualification. It takes two to three years to complete while you're working.

What about the future?

Whitbread is very diverse so there are plenty of career opportunities. I might try specialist purchasing for one of our companies, which would need much deeper knowledge of particular products and services.

Lisa's route to her job as a purchasing manager

  • Degree in Business Studies
  • Work experience led to work
  • Promoted to procurement manager

Lisa's purchasing manager tips

  • Get work placement/holiday jobs, locally in hotels, restraints or cafes – or different businesses relevant to the sort of industry you want to work in.
  • Ask people you know about their jobs – what they do and what they like about them.

Purchasing manager related jobs

  • Buyer
  • Distribution manager
  • Estimator
  • Merchandiser
  • Quality control inspector
  • Quality manager

Salary of a Purchasing manager

  • Salaries vary according to the type and size of employer and geographical location in the UK.
  • New purchasing managers usually earn from £17,000 to £22,500.
  • With experience, this can rise to £30,000 or more.
  • Senior purchasing managers/heads of department can earn from £35,000 to £60,000 or more.

How to become a purchasing manager

  • There are no set qualifications required to become a purchasing manager.
  • It is possible to enter the job with knowledge and experience gained from working in a general business environment.
  • There is a Degree in Purchasing and Supply Chain Management, and general business degrees with purchasing and supply chain options.
  • Other useful degree or higher national diploma (HND) subjects include management and business studies.
  • The Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply (CIPS) offers a degree of level diploma – a professional qualification leading to full membership of the institute.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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