It happens with striking regularity: I come across a news article that reports that someone responsible for procurement at an organization has been caught receiving personal financial benefits from suppliers in exchange for those suppliers being awarded business with the organization. Such was the case today when I read an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that reports that a former fleet manager for Mylan has been accused of “illegally netting $800,000 through various schemes while managing Mylan’s fleet of vehicles from 2000 to 2005.”

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Why does this type of thing happen?

While it may be due to poor education of what is proper behavior and what is not, I tend to feel that it is due to something else. What is unethical procurement behavior due to?

I feel it is due to bad hiring practices.

If a position has the significant responsibility of dealing with suppliers and making procurement decisions, the candidates should be thoroughly evaluated for the degree of integrity possessed. Yet, in the interviews that I’ve sat through as a candidate for procurement jobs, I cannot recall being asked questions designed to reveal my degree of integrity.

Failing to sufficiently probe for and discover the direction of a procurement candidate’s “moral compass” is an oversight of potentially disastrous proportions. In procurement, integrity should be the price of admission into the profession.

What’s the solution? I think that it can start with the hiring manager saying something like this in the interview…

“Tell me about a time when you had to decide between doing something that led to personal financial gain and doing the right thing.”

Not everyone will have had an experience. And that’s OK. But the candidate’s response may reveal a lot about their character.

To Your Career,
Charles Dominick, SPSM
President & Chief Procurement Officer
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.
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Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3

Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3 is an internationally-recognized business expert, legendary procurement thought leader, award-winning entrepreneur, and provocative blogger. Charles founded the Next Level Purchasing Association in 2000, oversaw its incredible growth, and successfully led the organization to its acquisition by the Certitrek Group in 2016. He continues to blog and provide advisory services for the NLPA on a part-time basis as he incubates his upcoming business innovations. Charles is also the co-author of the wildly popular, groundbreaking book, "The Procurement Game Plan: Winning Strategies & Techniques For Supply Management Professionals."

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