An opinion piece by Sara Jones,
Procurement and Social Value Manager
Ambition North Wales
Procurement was not something I’d ever heard of when I was younger, no one suggested that I’d find it interesting or that I could follow a career in such an industry.
I fell into Procurement by accident.
I previously worked in the health care sector, my role was to manage contracts to ensure that standards were complied with and to support the supply chain. I became involved in Procurement by chance, and just like that – it clicked. I had found what I loved and have loved it ever since.
Why we need more women:
Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and women-led SMEs play a vital role in economic growth and development, however, the number of women-led SMEs who are awarded public procurement contracts remain very low. The World Bank reported that only 1% of public procurement funds are awarded to women-owned businesses. There is a disparity in this number and we need to encourage more women to grab tender opportunities.
Late last year Ambition North Wales held our first Early Market Engagement event, offering all stakeholders and, in particular SMEs, the opportunity to hear more about getting involved with our work. Part of this event looked at how working together, we can develop the supply chain to offer more opportunities for women in Wales.
Aside from the tender opportunities, there is a need for more women in the Procurement industry. When I first started, I was one of the few women in the field, I fought hard to be respected and made sure I learnt everything so that I was on the same level as others.
What is Procurement:
When people ask me what my role is, they never understand. Some say, “that sounds impressive”, others say, “that must be boring and dull”.
But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Every day is different. I’ve learnt skills such as change management, negotiation, relationship management, collaborative working combined with contract law, legal knowledge, local and central policies – these all enable me to do what I do and do it well.
My role is the Procurement and Social Value Manager for Ambition North Wales, leading and managing all Procurement and contract management activity, to ensure compliance with relevant legislation. Everything we do, from tender opportunities, partnerships and to imbedding social value measures into Procurement, means we can deliver the best value for North Wales.
I take great pride in knowing that when a Procurement activity is legal and transparent, the results outweigh the hard work and challenges. Giving that time and effort into every part of the procurement process and securing a well-managed supply chain makes a great partnership and ensures successful outputs for the region.
How you can get involved:
I want to inspire other women into the role that I enjoy so much. On 8 March, the CIPS is holding a webinar with a panel of senior women in Procurement. The discussion will focus on the challenges faced during career progression, how the panel members overcame prejudices and biases and top tips for upcoming women in the profession. The link for more is at the bottom of this piece.
What’s next for me?
I’m currently undertaking my CIPS Advanced Practioner course, supported and funded by Welsh Government. This not only means I will also stay in Welsh Procurement for at least three years on completion (which I think is fabulous) but I can become MCIPS qualified and join an ever-growing band of senior female procurement professionals.
If you are interested in hearing more about women in procurement, a free webinar is being held on 8 March 2022. Details here: Women in Procurement (cips.org).