Essential leadership qualities for supply chain vice president
Essential Leadership Qualities for a Supply Chain Vice President
January 28, 2022
retaining supply chain talent
Retaining Supply Chain Talent
April 8, 2022

Essential Leadership Qualities for a VP of Purchasing

In the global supply chain discipline, the purchasing or procurement department plays a critical role in the entire company’s success. Purchasing specialists acquire supplies and materials for a company, helping regulate product supply and distribution and ensuring consumers receive desired products on time. The leaders of purchasing departments oversee these vital processes and make certain that teams work efficiently.

One of the central leaders in the purchasing department is the vice president. The VP is responsible for overseeing department personnel and guaranteeing smooth transactional operations. When hiring a VP of procurement or purchasing, you’ll want to look for a few essential leadership qualities. You should hire a candidate with exceptional supply chain knowledge and strong communication skills. And a competitive applicant should possess previous management experience to ensure the best operational capacity of the department.

Here is more about the vice president of purchasing role and the important leadership skills to remember when hiring candidates. 

VP of Purchasing Job Description

First, you’ll need to understand what comprises the daily duties of the vice president of purchasing. As one of the leaders of the procurement department, their primary responsibilities are supervising personnel and obtaining materials. VPs work directly with procurement managers to purchase the necessary materials for the company’s success. They also communicate with the company president with progress reports and updates on procurement details.

Vice presidents must be effective leaders for their departments and model correct behaviors. When creating contracts and enacting purchases for the organization, VPs must display integrity and fairness while seeking optimal business deals. In addition, the vice president makes sure that all staff members comply with necessary company procedures. They continuously communicate with managers to maintain smooth transactions. VPs use advanced communication skills to speak with staff, finalize product purchases and give company status updates.

Additionally, the vice president of purchasing obtains company materials economically and efficiently. They make critical decisions about the products that would best serve or represent the organization. These supplies might be materials for company products or supplies for the general health of the corporation. During the buying process, vice presidents also implement contract instructions and policies for staff.

Overall, the vice president of purchasing is responsible for:

  • Managing and advising departmental personnel.
  • Communicating updates to the president of operations.
  • Negotiating with vendors for company materials.
  • Enforcing corporate procedures and standards.
  • Developing purchasing strategies to benefit the organization.
Traits like problem solving are needed for Vice presidents of procurement.

Necessary Skills for a VP of Purchasing

Because the vice president of purchasing plays such a critical role in the supply chain, an ideal candidate must possess essential leadership qualities and extensive knowledge of the area. Typically, VPs need at least a bachelor’s degree in business or management, along with a minimum of five years’ involvement in the discipline.

However, a successful leader also possesses critical soft skills. Traits like problem-solving, negotiating and critical decision-making are essential for success as a vice president of procurement. Let’s take a closer look at the skills a VP of purchasing needs. 

Problem-Solving

In the fast-paced world of the supply chain, the ability to make quick decisions is crucial. Due to the unpredictable nature of the field, a vice president of purchasing might face:

  • Uncertain timelines.
  • Dips in supply and demand.
  • Fluctuating market costs.
  • Conflict among staff.
  • Difficult or nonresponsive vendors.

A VP must respond to these roadblocks in the most cost-efficient and timely manner possible. As a leader, they weigh the immediacy of the problem with what solution will best serve the company down the road. Above all, a VP of purchasing remains calm and level-headed amidst any crisis faced by the department. The purchasing department, as well as the entire company, benefits from a trusted problem-solver.

Negotiating

A vice president of purchasing frequently negotiates for supplies and contracts. They often encounter potential vendors and create deals for the necessary supplies of the company. Negotiation is a practiced skill composed of adept social skills and advanced knowledge of the field. In many cases, negotiators develop these skills over years of on-hand experience. VPs need to build connections and attentively listen to potential partners. When striking deals, skilled VPs view both sides of the situation and initiate solutions that best serve both parties. So, negotiation is a pivotal trait for a possible VP of purchasing’s resume. 

Active Listening

Listening is a significant component of communication and a critical leadership quality. A vice president of purchasing needs to attend to many different groups, from the president of the company and departmental staff to product sellers and supply chain regulators. And the VP must create comprehensive strategies that align with all these sources. 

Active listening requires complete concentration on the speaker, combined with the desire and empathy to understand the message. Listening attentively makes it easier to build connections with others, an essential component of a VP’s role. The ability to create extended partnerships with vendors is important for corporations. Additionally, by responding directly to the needs of the department and the sellers, the VP makes the strongest choices for the company’s health.

Technological and Mathematical Skills

Finally, when hiring a vice president of purchasing, you want a candidate with high levels of proficiency in both math and technology. Most companies use specific software to manage supply chain orders, and VPs need a strong understanding of how to run these systems. Vice presidents must troubleshoot and advise managers on the best practices for this software, so they need a solid comprehension. 

Impressive math capabilities are also necessary for this leadership position. As the head of purchasing, vice presidents solve monetary equations quickly and forecast the economic implications of decisions. They also calculate supply rates and analyze transactions the department makes. A strong background in math prepares candidates for success in this role. 

Hire top procurement recruiters.

Contact Optimum Supply Chain Recruiters to Hire Top Talent Today!

Optimum Supply Chain Recruiters specializes in finding the best supply chain candidates for your company. With our many years of experience in recruiting and an individualized approach, we can help you find the right applicant for various supply chain positions, including executive roles like a vice president of purchasing. Our intensive, nationwide campaigns find the top supply chain talent quickly so your company fills job openings in no time.

What sets us apart from other recruiting agencies is that we focus on both active and passive candidates to ensure we find the strongest applicant for the position. Our contingency recruitment process is well-tested, with exact plans and proven results. We work hard to deliver the results your company needs. 

Need to hire a vice president of purchasing? Contact us today to hear more about our recruitment services and how we can find you the top talent for your opening!

Don Jacobson
Don Jacobson
Don Jacobson was born and raised in New York City, and graduated with a B.A. degree in Management from the City University of New York. For 10 years, Don managed Operations and Supply Chain departments for consumer products companies. He then turned his attention to supply chain recruiting and for the past 27 years, has specialized in recruiting and placing supply chain executives throughout North America. Don is certified by the National Association of Personnel Consultants. He was a Partner at Hunt Ltd., and more recently was the Founder and Managing Partner of LogiPros LLC, a logistics recruiting firm. Don is a regular contributor of topical human resource articles for DC Velocity magazine, the CSCMP Supply Chain Comment, and The WERCSheet, published by the Warehousing Education and Research Council (WERC). He is Past President of the NY/NJ/CT chapter of WERC

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