Business and economics are key elements in the analysis of any form of trade. In this paper, the author addresses the issue of purchasing and how it relates to the two concepts (business and economics). The analysis is made from the perspective of purchasing as a vocation. The discussions are supported by data from existing literature and information gathered from an interview conducted with a professional in the industry. The paper is divided into three main parts. In the first section, an outline of the interview questions is illustrated.
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The second part points out the steps taken in setting up the interview with the selected professional. Finally, a comprehensive discussion of ‘Purchasing as a Vocation’ is provided in the third section. According to Monczka and Giunipero (2011), a career in purchasing and supply is a rigorous undertaking. It calls for unconditional commitment on the part of the professionals. Consequently, success in purchasing as a career is best realized when one treats it like a vocation.
Set of Interview Questions
Purchasing and supply is a key ingredient in various service related businesses. As such, it is important to have an insight into the life and experiences of a professional working in this field. With this in mind, a set of 10 questions were posed to a purchase and supply employee working in a retail outlet based in Ottawa. The following are the questions:
An Interview Guide to Evaluate Purchasing as a Vocation
- What was your dream career as you were growing up?
- Describe how it feels to be a professional in purchasing and supply.
- What are some of the qualifications required for one to pursue a career in purchasing and supply?
- Why did you opt to enter into a career in purchasing and supply?
- What are some of the roles played by a professional in purchasing and supply for their company?
- What are some of the challenges faced by personnel working in the purchasing and supply industry?
- As a career, how does purchasing add value to the national economy?
- What are some of the activities associated with the purchasing and supply career?
- What are the benefits of purchasing and supply?
- How can a professional improve their skills in the field of purchasing and supply?
Setting Up the Interview
The interview was slated for 28th January, 2015. The participant was sent a request and a consent form via e-mail before the interview. The researcher sought to find out the time and place that will be most convenient for the interviewee. The reason is that the professional works in a busy retail outlet in Ottawa, and time was needed for him to reschedule his timetable to accommodate the researcher. Upon consent, the open ended questionnaire was administered verbally through an interview.
The interview was conducted in the respondent’s office. The reason was that the researcher intended to make the setting as professional and as natural as possible for the respondent. The results of this interview will be reported in a comprehensive research paper on ‘Purchasing as a Vocation’.
Purchasing as a Vocation: Research Paper
Purchasing and Supply in Ottawa
The city of Ottawa is home to an estimated 1 million people. Information obtained from the city’s official website reveals that the purchasing and supply industry is worth about $1 billion (Ottawa, 2015). In this regard, there is a need to establish the drive and resolve required for one to thrive in this industry.
The interview was carried out on an individual who has worked in the industry for close to a decade. The author’s interest in ‘purchasing as a vocation’ results from the need to research and write more about professionalism in this and other careers.
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How it Feels to be a Professional in the Purchasing Industry
The growth of an industry is largely dependent on the manner in which the professionals conduct themselves. Purchasing is quite a demanding career. The sentiment was made evident when the question “how does it feel to work in purchasing?” was posed to the interviewee.
Their immediate response was “it is challenging”. According to Brad and Schneller (2011), purchasing requires a set of specific skills relating to coordination. In this regard, the ‘challenging’ aspect of a career in purchasing is associated with the ability of the individual to carry out the required coordination tasks.
A vocation is regarded as a calling. In light of this, it is essential for one to enjoy that which they refer to as their profession. Professionalism is all about doing one’s best to meet organizational goals. In the process of carrying out one’s duties (as a professional in purchasing and supply), the challenges that present themselves are seen as stepping stones towards career growth (Brad & Schneller, 2011).
From the information gathered during the interview, it was determined that most professionals tend to enjoy the day to day activities of their trade. In this regard, a day in the life of a professional in purchasing may be challenging. However, their experiences can be described as fulfilling.
A professional knows the importance of accomplishments. The skill set required for a job in purchasing and supply prepares one for the challenges lying ahead in their career path.
For instance, when it comes to the logistics involved in the trade, the skills make it possible for the individual to control everything through application of the appropriate bookkeeping techniques. The daily demands of a career in purchasing and supply require a measured application of these skills. Consequently, there are increased chances that one will enjoy carrying out their duties. In relation to this, it is important to note that professionalism is required to give an individual the sense of satisfaction.
Reasons for Entry into a Career in Purchasing
As already mentioned, a vocation is a calling to carry out a certain duty. To this end, professionals in purchasing and supply are seen to have joined the industry with the objective of solving some of the challenges that may present themselves to businesses operating here. For instance, Marshall (2009) points out that professionalism is a calling to provide solutions to certain challenges.
Some of the problems in the purchasing industry include lack of an established and efficient bookkeeping procedure. Another challenge entails poor logistical coordination.
The interviewee indicated that their childhood desire was to see an organized shopping system. In this regard, their major reason for entry into the purchasing and supply career was to bring about order in the system. According to Marshall (2009), professionalism calls for a skillful solution to the challenges faced in the process of carrying out particular activities.
With regards to this, it is noted that the systems in reference are those that meet the needs associated with the supply end of a commodity. One would argue that entry into a career in purchasing and supply is meant to add value to the supply chain aspect of a given commodity.
Entry into a given career requires a general interest in the field. As illustrated by the responses given by the interviewee, the need to provide logistical solutions may trigger interest in the field of purchasing. Once one has developed the interest, the next step involves the acquisition of the necessary skills. Towards this end, some form of schooling becomes essential.
The interviewee mentioned that the educational demands associated with a career in purchasing are not costly. To this end, it was noted that the academic requirements and personal resolve to provide solutions stand out as the main reasons behind entry into purchasing and supply.
Duties of a Professional in Purchasing
A professional is assigned a number of tasks depending on the level of their skills and expertise. Marshall (2009) points out that companies are charged with the responsibility of coming up with tailor-made duties for their respective employees.
In this regard, purchasing-related duties are seen as an avenue for one to effectively make use of their skill-set. Traditional skills required in this career include financial and contract management. According to Hugo (2006), a professional in this field is required to be an excellent negotiator. In this regard, a company can assign an individual the role of a liaison officer.
Relationship management is essential for a business to survive in the prevailing conditions on the global market. To highlight this point, Hugo (2006) makes reference to the strategic nature of the purchasing environment. There is a need to develop a rapport among the various suppliers. Consequently, the need to develop intra-company relationship is made clear.
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The strategic nature of procurement in the current business climate calls for more cooperation among the stakeholders. Building on this, another duty of a purchasing professional includes the constant development of strategy to be used by the company. Other duties include the day-to-day management of organization’s records.
The duties of a professional in the field of purchasing are diverse. In most cases, they correspond to the unique set of products that a company is involved in. In light of this, Hugo (2006) calls for custom made duties with respect to the procurement industry. The diversity is a result of the various interests that have to be taken into consideration depending on the product that a company works with. In the long run, the responsibilities of a professional in this field will depend on the skills available and the strategic mission of a given company.
Challenges Faced in Purchasing
Different industries have varying challenges that should be addressed for businesses to succeed. According to Brad and Schneller (2011), purchasing and supply is associated with a number of problems that mostly relate to the logistics aspects of the business. However, the major problems relate to how best a consumer will receive the products they have acquired from the company.
In this regard, the significance of supply chain management is made apparent. Brad and Schneller (2011) argue that an efficient supply chain system ensures that the purchasing process is conclusive. To this end, understanding these challenges requires an insight into the demands associated with the whole purchasing endeavor.
The first challenge emanates from the issue of employees. The logistical aspect of purchasing is labor intensive. In this regard, Brad and Schneller (2011) point out that there is a need to forge a good working relationship among the employees.
However, at times, the competitive nature of this career brings about challenges with regards to cohesiveness. The interviewee pointed out that there are instances when members of staff allow competitiveness to supersede mutual respect. Consequently, professionals are constantly trying to come up with an efficient strategy with which they can work comfortably.
The second challenge involves risk. According to Hugo (2006), a purchasing and supply enterprise faces many threats. The major source of these risks includes natural calamities and failure to deliver the goods ordered by clients (Hugo, 2006).
Purchasing companies make huge financial investments in terms of commodities. The goods (and sometimes services) add value to the company once they have been delivered to the consumer. In light of this, it is the job of the purchasing professional to ensure that the risks involved in the supply part of the procurement process are minimized.
Professionalism is incomplete without the element of ethics. According to Marshall (2009), professionals are advised to carry out their duties with the confines of the laid down ethical standards. The temptations for ethical carelessness are high with regards to procurement. Brad and Schneller (2011) point out that the procurement industry relies mostly on the competitive advantage of a company.
In light of this, temptations to ‘cut corners’ are many. Ethical requirements involve correct tabulation of figures and adherence to the laid down regulations. The interviewee cited some instances where a professional is tempted to bribe officials when their goods are delayed for clearance.
Finally, purchasing is not immune to the rise of cyber technology. The digital space provides consumers with a platform to churn out products without a lot of mechanical inputs. According to Brad and Schneller (2011), various companies are moving to social media platforms to offer purchasing solutions to consumers. The biggest challenge comes when a company has to keep up with this competition. As a result, most organizations will opt for the easier route of conformity.
Consequently, a number of firms end up laying-off a number of would-be-redundant staff. On a separate note, the inability by some employees to adapt to the technological advances adds to the technology related challenges. The interviewee pointed out that purchasing professionals are advised to keep up with the ever changing nature of ICT.
Benefits of Purchasing to the Local and National Economy
Purchasing is an integral aspect of trade. According to Brad and Schneller (2011), the process is seen as the interface through which the trading endeavor takes place. In this regard, it is seen as a key element of local and national economies. As previously mentioned, the purchasing industry in Ottawa is valued at approximately $1 billion.
The figures were arrived at based on the national tax demands of the city. Ottawa is required to facilitate the purchasing endeavor to satisfy the demand for $1 billion worth of trade. To this end, the implications of these activities on the local and national economies are significant.
A discussion on economics is incomplete without mentioning household income. The purchasing industry in Ottawa is valued highly. Consequently, the number of people employed in the economy brings about the element of household income (Ottawa, 2015).
The interviewee mentioned that their annual income is approximately $50, 000. Based on this figure, one can conclude that a career in purchasing and supply is quite lucrative. A high household income improves people’s purchasing power. Ultimately, the economy of a locality is bound to grow.
The purchasing industry in Ottawa is responsible for the creation of a number of job opportunities. For instance, the supply chain sector is responsible for 65% of the jobs that result from purchasing. According to Brad and Schneller (2011), economic growth can be attributed to the increase in the number of work opportunities associated with a specific industry. In this regard, the purchasing industry is associated with a sizeable chunk of the workforce.
National economies grow depending on the revenue acquired from various industries. According to Brad and Schneller (2011), purchasing accounts for a significant percentage of the revenues collected in a given locality. The interviewee mentioned that the trade policies put in place by the national government have increased revenue generated by the procurement industry.
The funds go a long way in enhancing economic growth. The money collected is invested in different areas of the economy. Consequently, purchasing is seen as a key ingredient towards the growth of an economy, both at the local and national levels.
Importance of Purchasing in the Trading Matrix
In the previous sections, purchasing has been described as an interface in the trading process. In this regard, there is a need to evaluate the importance of this profession from the broader perspective of trade.
Purchasing is seen as a calling (or vocation) when the analysis of its roles illustrates the value added to the entire trading matrix. According to Marshall (2009), professionalism is made evident once the broader picture of a career is outlined. The discussions in this section outline the value added to the trading matrix by the purchasing career.
The primary objective of trade is the exchange of goods and services. The field of purchasing ensures that this exchange is completed. According to Brad and Schneller (2011), purchasing takes into account the duration taken for a commodity to get from the distributor to the consumer. With regards to this, the undertaking is seen as the point of contact between the supplier and consumer of a commodity.
The second role played by purchasing involves the element of supply chain management (Brad & Schneller, 2011). The management illustrates the logistical angle of the trading matrix. In the absence of a professional purchasing sector, supply chain management would be in shambles. A vocation in this field ensures that the logistics of trade are well taken care of.
In the previous section, an analysis of the importance of purchasing and supply was made from an economic point of view. The purchasing industry in Ottawa, as already mentioned, helps the authorities to address the employment problems in the region. The supply chain sector is associated with a number of direct and indirect job opportunities.
According to Brad and Schneller (2011), the ability of an industry to sustain employment is essential in evaluating trade from an economic perspective. In this regard, the purchasing industry helps one to assess the performance of an economy with respect to the revenues and employment figures.
The ultimate significance of purchasing in the trading matrix is realized by analyzing the volumes transacted. According to Brad and Schneller (2011), the supply chain aspect of purchasing reveals the volume of goods and services moved by a given company.
For instance, when the interviewee was describing the importance of their profession, they made reference to the volumes traded. Trade is best analyzed from the perspective of the amount of goods that have been moved. In light of this, it is noted that purchasing is one of the most fundamental aspects of the trading matrix.
Procurement is a multi-faceted industry. It is evident that trade and economic goals can be realized with the help of a profession in purchasing and supply. To this end, professionalism is required when it comes to the evaluation of what it takes to succeed in the industry. However, the demanding nature of the profession requires commitment and dedication, which can only be seen as a calling.
In light of this, professionalism is important as it creates the impression that purchasing is not all about skill. On the contrary, it is more of a vocation in life. The interviewee mentioned that from the beginning, they have always wanted to provide logistical solutions in business. Consequently, it can be said that purchasing is their vocation.
That notwithstanding, further research is needed to determine the exact relationship between professionalism and vocation. The discussions in this paper have laid the foundation for future research in the area of procurement.
Brad, M., & Schneller, T. (2011). Purchasing. Michigan: Cengage Learning.
Hugo, W. (2006). Purchasing & supply management (5th ed.). Pretoria: Van Schaik.
Marshall, J. (2009). Professionalism. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Monczka, H., & Giunipero, P. (2011). Purchasing & supply chain management, (5th ed.), Michigan: Cengage Learning. Ottawa. (2015). Purchasing. Web.