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The Solitary Journey

I want to deep dive today in something I find very special for a procurement role, and now experiencing start-up life, something that strongly connects these 2: they are solitary journeys.


What do I mean?

After 15 years in my own procurement career, and also having the chance to understand others journeys through procurement transformation projects, leadership roles, cross-category engagements and so on, it made me realize that the work is solitary: in most of the procurement projects there is a procurement team of 1. Very rarely we get to see more than 1 procurement human working on a deal.

When we try to compare with other functions and roles, we see that this set-up is very rare. In technology, finance, marketing, sales, R&D you usually see teams working on projects. Each having their own role, but all complementing each other and working together.


Why is this so relevant to our development?

Being in a team of 1, creates additional pressures but also an immense source of learning and development. And I realize this now more than ever, when I am on a new entrepreneurial journey. When I compare myself with other ‘young’ entrepreneurs, I am not so pressured by the loneliness feeling, because I am so used to it.

Let’s deep dive in what I see are the challenges and opportunities, and what this means for our professional development.

The challenges of this role set-up:

  1. Little alternative opinions and perspectives. This may pose challenges for finding alternative solutions, for checking your biases or your ego
  2. We are not used to ask for help hence I observe little mentoring or coaching penetration. This is not part of the DNA
  3. Little on the spot feedback. Most of it happens after you finalize a deal or maybe at one of the approval stages. This limits your capability to spot development areas, it takes longer to realize where to improved
  4. You feel you are alone in what you are facing and double down to find a solutions also alone

The opportunities this set-up brings:

  1. You act as an owner. You become strongly connected with the business purpose
  2. You strengthen an impressive number of skills as you need to cover all spectrum and lifecycle of a deal: analytics, research, negotiation, communication, critical thinking, creativity, market dynamics, legal concepts, financials and so on. I have counted at least 20 key skills
  3. You naturally develop strong leadership capabilities


So what? What does it mean for us?

Any new development journey starts with a desire and is followed by self-awareness. So, in case you are on a journey to grow, realizing the challenges and opportunities this lonely set-up brings is the first step. Well done, you’ve done the first step!

The next ones are to decide your direction, build a strategy and act on it.

This is where I want to contribute with this article.

If you want to build an amazing procurement career, put in place systems to counterbalance the challenges, and to monetize the opportunities. Something like below:

  1. Counterbalance the challenges
    1. intentionally building a sounding board: people around you that you can advise and receive advise from.
    2. Learn to ask for help in a way to maximize your impact. A perfect place to start from is the Max impact, available in Solutionary PLC
    3. As you do not have others around you to make you aware, keep a log or a journal during your projects with what ‘pushes your buttons’. This is an imperative source of knowledge for emotional regulation and developing your self-control
    4. Join a community, a network. You will learn immensely from talking with others and understanding their journey
  1. Monetize the opportunities
    1. You have a strong personal brand differentiator: you feel an owner. Talk about it!
    2. What you want is to have clarity on what makes you a strong candidate for the next step and what opportunities to look for or create for yourself. Become aware of your superpowers skills and develop there. A good place to start with a map is 5 Personas app
    3. Finally, have the confidence you are more ready than you know for your own start-up journey 😊


Stay amazing!