Claire Cunningham from Ivalua recently penned an excellent piece entitled “Three Ways Procurement Can Gain Millennial Appeal” for Supply & Demand Chain Executive.  The article explored how the procurement profession can attract the next generation of business professionals.

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One of the ways suggested was to “create a defined career path.”  Attend any talk about millennials in the workforce and you’re likely to hear that today’s young adults want – scratch that, EXPECT – to advance quickly in the organizations for which they choose to work.  If they don’t, they won’t be shy about leaving for greener pastures.

I couldn’t agree more with Cunningham’s suggestion.  So, what is the career path in your procurement organization?

Now, don’t try to tell me that you have a legit procurement career path if you have like three procurement manager positions, all occupied by people who have been there for an average of 15 years each and no documented criteria for what separates a manager from a procurement specialist.  Millennials will see right through that.  They’ll instinctively know that there is no way that they’ll have a more rad title on their business card in two years.

So, what is a true procurement career path?

To me, a true procurement career path has these characteristics:

  • At least three or four “levels” of procurement positions
  • Documented competencies, skills, types of experience, etc. that illustrate what separates people at one level from those at the previous level
  • A plan for developing the competencies that will eventually qualify an employee for a higher level and a timeline for that development

Show a millennial this type of career path and you’ll have a better chance of getting today’s best, brightest, most energetic, and most energetic talent on your procurement team.  Helping procurement leaders do what’s necessary to attract, develop and retain such talent was one of the driving forces behind the Next Level Purchasing Association (NLPA) launching the SPSM-BOK* Mastery Model in June of 2014.  I encourage you to use or adapt the SPSM-BOK Mastery Model to establish the procurement career path your organization needs to optimally manage its talent.

See a graphical representation of the SPSM-BOK Mastery Model below or download the full SPSM-BOK Framework at

*  SPSM-BOK stands for Strategic Procurement & Supply Management Body of Knowledge (an NLPA trademark), a collection of educational materials and documented best practices that serves as the basis for the SPSM family of purchasing certifications.


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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