A fast-rising prodigy of the profession has offered young candidates seeking procurement jobs some insights into what they should master as they embark on their careers.

In an interview with Spend Matters, Steven Clowney, global commodity manager at AGCO Corporation and winner of the 2018 US 30 Under 30 Rising Supply Chain Stars Recognition Program (run by the Institute of Supply Management and Thomas) explains that he was drawn to supply chain management while working at Coca-Cola after completing his undergraduate degree.

He was fascinated by the sheer scale and complexity of the operations that went into producing a humble bottle of Coca-Cola, from processing the raw ingredients to putting the finished product on the supermarket shelf. Later, he became increasingly passionate about improving organisational processes, cost reduction and revenue generation, but still places category management at the top of his list of interests – and challenges.

Having gained experience in both direct and indirect procurement, Clowney realised that these two processes require expert practitioners to build good, solid relationships with internal stakeholders and existing or potential suppliers.

While managing liquid dairy and beverages at National DCP, Clowney grappled with the challenges of sourcing and price-protecting strategies for unstable commodities like sugar and fresh milk. These products pose particular procurement challenges, besieged as they are by factors beyond human control, all of which can profoundly affect price, including hurricanes, demand surges and supply shortages. Knowledge of the commodity markets, he says, is indispensable for procurement staff charged with developing price-protecting sourcing policies for fast-moving commodities such as these.

He is a great believer in procurement staff becoming customer-obsessed in their supply management duties, and this is supplemented by agile philosophies and a willingness to embrace cutting-edge technology to enhance operational excellence. In addition to this, he predicts that Artificial Intelligence will become the most disruptive technology to supply chain and supply chain management.

It may equip new candidates for procurement jobs exceedingly well if they can pick up and learn from the insights of talented and successful young procurement professionals like Clowney.

If you are a young rising star in Procurement and looking for your next Interim procurement job take a look