Public Procurement and Property

Scottish Apprenticeship Week Q&A – Brendan and Leigh…

March 8, 2023 by No Comments | Category CIPS, Procurement People of Tomorrow

It’s Scottish Apprenticeship Week. To celebrate the week, we are sharing a number of Q&A interviews with current and past apprentices within the Scottish Procurement and Property Directorate (SPPD). In this blog we speak to Brendan who is just starting his procurement career, and Leigh who has been working in the profession for a few years now.

Q&A with Brendan O’Dowd…Brendan O'Dowd

  1. What made you choose to take a Procurement Modern Apprenticeship? Honestly, procurement wasn’t something I knew much about before I applied for the apprenticeship. I did some research online when I was applying and found the subject intriguing. It looked like the sort of area where I would build a lot of new skills that are transferable across a wide range of work. Being able to build these skills is something I think will be important as my career develops. So I suppose the scope for learning, and for growth was the main attraction.
  2. What have you enjoyed doing so far in your apprenticeship? I’ve really enjoy my apprenticeship. Being involved from the beginning in such a multi-faceted area like procurement has been an enlightening experience. My team has been very supportive, and the wider division have been very welcoming!
  3. What are you looking forward to doing? I’m a very data-driven person; and procurement best practice, which is the team I work in, rely on the data provided by suppliers and buyers. We’re currently reworking a self-assessment model which will provide us vital information on public sector procurement behaviour and exercises.
  4. What do you think the benefits of work-based learning in an apprenticeship are? I came from a creative background where you must learn by constantly practicing and learning through experience. I think a Modern Apprenticeship suits the way I absorb information and apply it. I’ve found myself learning rapidly on the job, and then applying this learning to my tasks. It’s improved the quality of my work and made sure the lesson sticks.
  5. Would you encourage others to take an apprenticeship? I would encourage anyone who is on the market for a job to apply for a Modern Apprenticeship! You get paid as you learn whilst gaining valuable experience, which can also be applied to other jobs in the future. A Modern Apprenticeship offers you something which classroom learning cannot – you get to absorb and project the skillset you’re learning onto your job, which sets you up for a very promising career path.
  6. Although it’s early days in your role, what does the Power of Procurement mean to you? The Power of Procurement has a simple meaning to me. It is about providing services in an ethical, transparent, and cost-effective way. It’s powerful when you can provide an ethical infrastructure of procuring goods, like the new Sustainable Procurement practices or the bolstering of our Small to Medium Enterprises. It’s powerful when you have transparency to drive competition and constant improvement. This leads onto the final point, where you can procure goods that are cost-effective. This is essential to services which perhaps have individuals dependent on it, any savings would directly affect their quality-of-life.

Q&A with Leigh Syme…Leigh Syme

  1. What role have apprenticeships played in your career journey so far? Over the 5 and a half years that I have been in Scottish Government this is the first year I haven’t been involved in any sort of apprenticeship scheme so I would say they have probably played a bigger role in my career than most. Throughout this timeframe I have either been involved in SPPD’s procurement modern apprenticeship or undertaking Skills Development Scotland’s Graduate Apprenticeship scheme completing an Honours Degree in Business Management. Without undertaking these apprenticeships I wouldn’t have the confidence, ambition, reporting and presenting skills, or the network pool of professions that I have now which have allowed me to progress in my career in procurement and overall Civil Service.
  2. What do you think the benefits of work-based learning in an apprenticeship are? I am a big advocate for the ‘learn and earn approach’. You are being provided an education both in terms of receiving a qualification and learning about the world of work from experienced colleagues and professionals who have first-hand experience in your chosen profession whilst being paid. The skills you learn in an apprenticeship can’t be taught in a book or in a classroom, only through work-based learning.
  3. Would you encourage others to take an apprenticeship? Absolutely. Particularly to those who feel that university isn’t right for them or those who want to enter the world of work straight away. Having said that, anyone of any age can apply for a modern apprenticeship and should do as it has a lot of benefits.
  4. What does the Power of Procurement mean to you? Most people don’t realise the importance of the procurement function within business and generally in society. Without procurement, it would be impossible for most business operations to function. We wouldn’t have our mobile phones, the food in our fridges or the clothes we wear without procurement specialists buying the goods to create these goods that we need. That makes procurement a pretty powerful tool in my eyes.
  5. What’s next, where would you like to see your career develop in Scottish Government? In the next 12 months my hope is to gain promotion to the next level up. I don’t like too think too much beyond the next step in my career as to not put too much pressure on myself. I am just about to turn 26 so have plenty of time left in my civil service career to develop.
  6. What would you say to the ‘Procurement People of Tomorrow’ thinking about joining the Scottish Procurement and Property Directorate? SPPD is a great place to work. Colleagues within the directorate are extremely supportive and happy to help in the development of new starts/modern apprentice’s. Starting your first job/ a new job can be a daunting experience (it certainly was for me) but thanks to the support I received I have been able to develop within my procurement career – and so can anyone who is thinking of joining!

Are you interested in a career in procurement? Discover more about the Procurement People of Tomorrow and the routes into this profession.

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