There are multiple career paths to become a procurement director. Some people advance their career through promotion within the field of procurement, while others transfer to procurement from a financial services background. This position is typically found in large corporations or organizations, with at least 10 full-time procurement staff. The primary role of a procurement director is to set purchasing policy for the organization, plan strategically for the organization, and work with departments and senior executives to improve efficiencies and reduce costs.
The vast majority of employers require a minimum undergraduate degree or four-year diploma to become a procurement director. This degree can be in any discipline, but training in business, accounting, procurement, economics, or a related field is beneficial. There is a range of post-graduate programs available in procurement from one-year college programs to two- or three-year master's programs. Many people who are interested in this role complete a master of business administration (MBA) degree to improve their skill sets.
Experience is an important consideration when looking to become a procurement director. This is a middle management position, and candidates typically have 10 to 15 years experience working in purchasing, finance, or business administration. Ideally, he or she has held a series of positions with increasing levels of responsibility, ranging from purchasing officer to supervisors or manager.
Communication skills are also very important for anyone who wants to become a procurement director. Negotiating with suppliers, resolving customer complaints and dealing with legal challenges are all part of this job. In some organizations, the procurement director is responsible for organizing staff training and making presentations at the senior executive level. Courses in public speaking or business presentations are an excellent way to develop these skills.
Procurement associations offer courses and certification programs, as well as a professional designation to qualified candidates. Large organizations often prefer to hire Certified Procurement Professionals® (CPP®) or Certified Procurement Managers® (CPM®). This designation requires a combination of education and work experience in procurement. In addition to these requirements, there is an examination of procurement knowledge required to receive this designation.
Continuing education is required to maintain this designation, and may include courses, seminars or conferences. A commitment to lifelong learning is especially important in this field, due to the rapidly changing technology that is becoming more integrated in this process. The impact of computers and the Internet is just beginning in procurement, and the industry is sure to experience major changes in the next 15 to 20 years.