Mentoring in Procurement


Author : Trish Rafuse

As a seasoned public procurement professional you have likely taken your share of procurement related courses in purchasing. You probably have a procurement certification, or two, and are left wondering where your own professional development can go from here. Conversely you may be a newer procurement staff who are working though public procurement training programs towards procurement certification of one kind or another and are looking at the seasoned public procurement professional as a vault of knowledge and experience. Those two ends of the professional spectrum can often lose sight of each other, and their paths may not often cross. How do organizations retain that valuable knowledge and how do we prepare the next generation of public procurement professionals, how do we set them up for success? Sure, formal procurement education, public sector procurement training courses and learning from court case results are all a great source of information but that often is transactional in nature and loses sight of the human, personal experience and perspective that is learned by doing.

Experienced professionals can often be intimidating or difficult to approach and sometimes our experience can cloud the fresh perspective and inquisitive nature of those new to the profession. How do we bring these two groups together? How do we leverage the expertise that comes with experience to advantage those entering or new public procurement professionals?  Yes, we can create formal policies and procedures, we can build in succession planning and responsibility to cross train, but these can sometimes be arduous and unenjoyable tasks. What are the alternatives? Consider mentoring, working together, sharing information, building relationships.

Mentoring does not have to be structured and does not have to follow particular programs or a set of rules. A quick online search garners a number of different models, the three A’s of mentoring and many more Those tools and rules have their place but mentoring can be, and most effectively should be built on and focused around relationship building and supporting one and other. Consider a simpler approach like regular scheduled coffee catch ups, digital or in person, a walking meeting can be a great option. It could be weekly or monthly engagements; it could be committing to connect at an annual conference or event (this is great to strengthen and build a mentee’s professional network). Whatever you choose it is important that the format and schedule works for both parties and that everyone is comfortable openly expressing their thoughts in a safe nonjudgmental space. There are no stupid questions or queries. You should be there to support one another. Having a resource on hand, a go to person, a phone call away when you need them to help though a challenging time or new situation can often give peace of mind and instill confidence.

A mentoring relationship should be a mutually beneficial partnership, a two-way street. Many of you, I am sure, have heard the expression, the best way to learn is to teach. Teaching, guiding, or advising others can be a terrific way to reinforce your own knowledge and skills. It can keep you in check with your own goals and outlook and solidify your plan for yourself for the future while keeping you connected to the procurement profession. And don’t forget that the more people we have in our network, the diverse perspectives, and experiences the more we can draw from that will have positive impact even the most seasoned procurement professionals. 

In my experience, from both sides of the table, a good mentor is there to support and listen. Provide insight and guidance while allowing the mentee to form their own conclusions and make their own decisions. This is where coaching and mentoring can differ as you can find here. Coaching is often supervisor to employee and specific to offering solutions to specific problems or achieving the goals within a certain project. Coaching is usually a shorter-term commitment that focuses on overcoming a problem or a successful conclusion to a project. Coaches are frequently assigned based on their expertise in a specific area to solve the problem at hand, not necessarily matched with the person.  Mentoring is broader, offering professional advice related to an outlook or how to achieve a goal, a career path or a step back look at successful projects and their attributes and how they can be replicated. Mentoring is an opportunity to share possible professional development paths and options, and to achieve goals. Helping your mentee gain perspective, inspiration, and insight that they can digest and apply to their career. 

Looking for a mentor or to be a mentee? How do you find the right person and what should you look for in that person? Because of the personal nature of these types of relationships, look for someone you admire, respect, and wish to emulate. Someone with similar expectations and values. Talk to people, take recommendations from others. Consider making use of professional procurement associations or places like the Procurement School Community for advice and direction. Similarly, if you are interested in becoming a mentor the same places can help match with the right person you but additionally, don’t be shy, reach out to your network, you may have a colleague with someone just right for you. 

Supporting and lifting up other procurement professionals at all levels and stages of their career is a very important and rewarding. Sharing your experience and watching others prosper makes a positive impact on the public procurement profession that benefits us all.

Public Procurement in Canada

Certified procurement professionals play a pivotal role in the public procurement world. These experts are well-equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to navigate the intricacies of procurement processes. Whether you’re looking to enhance your procurement acumen through procurement management courses or seeking valuable insights through procurement webinars, the landscape for public procurement offers many opportunities to explore.

Procurement services in Canada encompass a wide range of activities, all aimed at achieving the best value for taxpayer money. Procurement service providers work closely with public sector procurement consultants to streamline processes, maintain transparency, and uphold ethical standards. This collaborative effort ensures that the procurement landscape remains fair, competitive, and cost-effective.

Obtaining a procurement certification or a purchasing certificate can be a wise decision for those aspiring to excel in public procurement. These certifications validate your expertise and demonstrate your commitment to professionalism in the procurement arena. Certified procurement professionals are highly regarded for their ability to make informed decisions that benefit both the public and the government agencies they serve.

Public procurement in Canada is not just about acquiring goods and services; it’s about contributing to the well-being of communities and the country as a whole. The individuals in this field understand the significance of their roles and strive to uphold the highest standards of ethics and accountability.

Whether you’re a seasoned procurement professional or just starting your journey, the public procurement landscape offers a wealth of opportunities for growth and development. From procurement management courses to ongoing procurement webinars, resources are available to help you stay informed and up-to-date with the ever-evolving world of procurement.

Written by Trish Rafuse

Trish Rafuse is currently Senior Contracts Manager at Interuniversity Services Inc. with over 15 years experience working exclusively in public procurement. In her spare time you can find her coaching and training at her local CrossFit gym.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the Subject Matter Experts and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Procurement School.

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