How to Advance Your Career In Procurement – Tania Seary

This interview is taken from an episode of the Spend Culture Stories podcast. In this Women’s Day special episode, Tania Seary, the founder of Procurious and #WomeninProcurement speaker shares how to create a fulfilling career in procurement, embracing diversity, and what the next generation of procurement professionals need to know.

About the Podcast:

Your company culture might attract talent, but your Spend Culture will make or break your company.
Spend Culture Stories is a female-hosted and produced podcast that helps finance leaders learn the tactics, strategies, and processes to build a proactive Spend Culture.
Learn how to pick the right tools, implement the most efficient processes, and how to develop the right people to transform the Spend Culture of your organization for the better.

Tania Seary of Procurious Shares How to Advance Your Career In Procurement

Entrepreneur. Procurement Influencer. President and Founder of Procurious. 

Tania Seary is the president and co-founder of Procurious, the world’s first online community dedicated to procurement and supply chain professionals, which now has 60,000+ followers and members in 140 countries.Tania’s fascination and commitment to procurement development started around twenty years ago in the United States. After finishing her MBA at Pennsylvania State University, Tania became one of Alcoa’s first global commodity managers.

Throughout her career, Tania has raised the profile of the procurement and supply chain professions. A true entrepreneur, Tania is the Founding Chairman of Procurious, The Faculty, and The Source.

In this episode, Tania shares how to create a fulfilling career in procurement, embracing diversity and innovation, and what the next generation of procurement professionals need to know.

Speakers: Tania Seary, President & Founder of Procurious

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Notable Quotes:

In your opinion, is there something that organizations can be doing to attract these younger generations of people that might not be as familiar with procurement to get into the industry?

I think there’s going to be no surprise in my answer – it’s social media. I feel that social media is a really valuable tool for us today for a whole lot of reasons.

I’m obviously biased, but I feel that if procurement professionals and particularly leaders around the world were able to shine a light on how interesting this profession was, we would be attracting a lot more people. I really encourage everyone in the profession for the last few years to show some of the fantastic stories about what procurement and supply chain gets involved in. We just about touch everything in the organization. And I think if people knew that and have global reach, they’d be very much attracted.

I also think with social media that it’s a great opportunity for leaders to really help drive change in their own organization. They can lead a diversified group of people and become conscious of change. There’s a lot of benefits to using social media. But I think more than anything, people need to understand what it is we do and how fun it is. So that would be my number one tip get on social media and show how interesting it is to work in your organization.

Where do you see this going in the next few years in terms of people actually using procurement technology to help them with their processes?

Well it’s inevitable. And people fear the change. Let’s face it, in the “old economy”, people built their careers on knowledge and what they knew. What’s more, people in large organizations built their career based on their ability to solve problems.

So they’ve almost got a vested interest in there being problems. Now being a bit provocative here, but you know, I kind of think that when we have this next generation of procurement supply chain professionals comes through, it’s going to be inevitable that technology is going to take over a lot of what we’re doing today.

But what I’m talking about with our community now is the importance of being human, because at the end of the day, a lot of these transactional tasks we do are going to be taken away from us, and we’re going to find that there’s needs to be spend compliance, which I know that it’s important to be creating cost-conscious Spend Cultures.

What about compliance?

Compliance with spend is going to be a no brainer. But what the technology is not going to be able to do is to have this breakthrough thinking, this creative commerciality that I was talking about earlier. So it’s going to fall back on the procurement and supply chain pros to do the really sexy stuff which is to think outside of the box, create new ways of working, and maybe even totally change what they buy and the way they buy it. So I think it’s going to be really exciting. I mean, you’ve probably seen that quote “it’s going to just feel like electricity”. We’re not even going to be talking about ice shortly, it’s just going to be powering everything. I think we should just get ready for it and adapt. And how are we going to adapt is going to be through being human.

What are some of the common poor practices that you’ve seen when it comes to organizations trying to cultivate a healthy Spend Culture?

Well look I think the biggest mistake companies make is that they don’t “walk the talk” at the senior level. The most successful and conscious Spend Cultures I’ve seen get everyone in the C-level to walk the talk. They don’t have sandwiches at their meeting and it’s often a crazy little things that get people out of the organization talking about it.

It’s difficult when you see the CFO/CEO stay in a six-star hotel but ask everyone to cut costs. So I think that’s probably the number one mistake. The C-level don’t walk the talk and set a good example for their employees.

In your career so far, what’s the best piece of advice you’ve heard?

One that I always stuck with me is that you and the common denominator in your career. What this means is: only you will have a vested interest in your career. Bosses might come and go, peers might come and go but you’re always there.

I think it’s easy sometimes when things aren’t going up in our career to blame other people. But you’ve always got to look in the mirror and you’ve always got to say, well what did I do? What role could I play or how can I prove myself? So it’s really up to you if you want something to change, you’ve got to make it happen.

So now you’re the common denominator and you create. That’s probably my favorite.

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