Public Procurement

#NoWrongPath to discover the Power of Procurement

August 10, 2021 by No Comments | Category Guest Blog, Procurement People of Tomorrow, Scottish Procurement, Training

To support young people across Scotland through #NoWrongPath day we asked some of our staff to reflect on their careers so far and how they got into procurement.

Sophie and David, some of our portfolio specialists have had very different routes to the same team, while Jayne, one of our eCommerce specialists shows how one decision can lead you on the path to your perfect career!

When you left school what did you think your future job would be?

Sophie– All through high school my aim was to be a lawyer. I then hit sixth year and my heart was no longer in it. I was nervous about going to university and I was doubting my choice. I had always been better at Maths than English and was being repeatedly told to do Accounting instead. This led to me applying for Accounting degrees at university instead of Law.

David– I grew up aspiring to be a professional football player like my dad. Although I achieved my Highers, I wasn’t interested in university or getting a job, I just wanted to play football for a living. I was lucky enough to be playing for Kilmarnock at the time and was offered a full-time contract a few months before leaving school, so my heart was set on that.

Jayne– After I completed 6th year I had an offer to do a Marketing and Business Degree at Heriot-Watt University.  However, as the time got closer to actually pack my bags and go, I realised it was not for me. I didn’t want to study any more.
My parents were very supportive; however, my dad did say that I had to now “get a proper” job (whatever one of those was?!).
At a bit of a loss, I spoke with a friend whose advice was to apply to the Scottish Executive as she had done 12 months prior, with the rationale that we could “do lunch every day”.
Career choice made I started in November 2001 as a Procurement Administrator!

What is your current role, what do you enjoy about it?

Sophie– My current role is a senior portfolio specialist within the More Powers Implementation Procurement Team. This procurement team primarily provides procurement support to Social Security Scotland in order to deliver a number of devolved benefits. In my role I procure IT systems and software. Working in a fast paced and challenging environment has its difficulties but I am provided all the training and support required to be progressing an exciting career.

David– I am currently a procurement portfolio specialist in the More Powers Team. I was welcomed into the team during lockdown and am developing my knowledge each day in procurement!
Over the years, I have always wanted to acquire a qualification within my role. However I have not been able to do so until I arrived at Scottish Government. I am currently completing my Level 4 CIPS (Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply) Diploma in Procurement and Supply.
I see this as a massive benefit that not many organisations offer.

Jayne– I have moved around within what we now know as the Scottish Procurement and Property Directorate, however I have found my calling in the eCommerce Shared Service as a Senior eCommerce Specialist.  I love my job!

I work with many different organisations across the public sector to deliver all aspects of eCommerce, however I am currently implementing purchasing and eInvoicing tools within the Scottish Prison Service.  The project has been many years in the making, for it to be a reality is very satisfying and rewarding.  A lot of my day is spent working with people, being creative, problem solving and planning.

Have you had any unusual or unexpected pit stops on your path?

Sophie– My journey to procurement was a complete accident! I did one year of Accounting at University and then changed my degree to the LLB in Law. I, again, had my heart set on being a lawyer. I achieved my 2:1 in Law to once again doubt my choice. This led me to apply to a variety of graduate jobs and being successful in applying for Sterling Furniture. I spent two years learning the ins and outs of running the UK’s largest independent furniture store. It was this job that introduced me to Buying.

I knew I wanted a career in Buying so I applied for a job at the Ministry of Defence. My role was procuring items that would support South Africa’s Navy fight against Boko Haram. This kick started my career in procurement!

At high school I didn’t even know what Procurement or Buying was. Whilst studying Accounting and Law I would never have known these skills could be so easily transferable to use to kick start a career in procurement and allow me to achieve fast promotions. I have accidentally walked into a career that I believe is completely suited to not only my knowledge and skills but also my values and ethics.

David– Yes, many. I was always aware that being a footballer could end at any point. My dad always kept me grounded as he had been through the same process. After achieving my goal, I played full time football for three years. In January 2015, I was given the news my contract would not be renewed and that left me unemployed with no work or any experience to call upon. I tried to stick at football but after many unsuccessful trials all around Scotland it was time to move on and look at a new career path.

After six months of no work, I bit the bullet and started applying for any job I could see. Eventually I got my first temp job doing administrative work for mortgage applications. Working 9-5 was a very new experience as I was used to a few hours of training each day and a Wednesday off.
After a period of time the work died out and I was advised my contract would be coming to an end again. I applied for a permanent job in the customer services department. I learned very quickly I had to grow thick skin and work at an intense pace with very few breaks. After 18 months on backshifts this slowly wore me down. Unable to play football at the weekend due to work or make plans with my friends and family, I was in a constant unhappy cycle.

I was grateful for the experience but had to leave as it was not for me. After great encouragement from family, I applied for an Assistant Supply Chain Manager role within the Ministry of Defence and was successful. I worked with a great team providing logistical support to nuclear submarines which was a massive change in roles but so interesting and rewarding. This led to me developing supply chain and procurement skills over the two years which set me up for promotion to my current role within Scottish Government.
I certainly did not follow a straightforward career path – there were plenty of ups, downs and tears – but I can certainly say I worked hard to get to my current position and will continue to do so to better myself.

Jayne– I have been in the eCommerce Shared Service since 2007.  When COVID came along I was redeployed to work on delivering PPE.
Up until that point I thought that my skill set wasn’t transferrable out with my eCommerce/Procurement niche – I was wrong!
The move showed me how valuable the skills of working in a project delivery environment are throughout the entire Scottish Government.
Procurement of PPE was a hot topic, having an in depth knowledge of the procurement landscape, policy and procedures definitely helped.  It pushed me out of my comfort zone and I definitely benefited from it.
Perhaps you’re wondering…up until COVID I did still do lunch with my school friend most weeks!

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Our Procurement People of Tomorrow (PPoT) programme aims to address the skills gap in procurement and highlights the challenges in attracting, recruiting and retaining talent. Through PPoT we aim to show young people and career changers that procurement can be an interesting and fruitful career where you can make a difference.

If you are interested in learning more about procurement or for more information or contact us at scottishprocurement@gov.scot.
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