Being a buyer, sometimes also known as a purchasing manager, means being at the heart of a company’s challenges, a strategic role that involves costs, deadlines and plenty of internal affairs. Above all, the role of a buyer is about being a top-class negotiator.
The right purchasing strategy can make or break any company
Purchasing affects and involves all company departments, from marketing (including data and market research) to communications (vital advertising space) and logistics (hotel rates and air travel), all the way through to final production (including raw materials). Buyers need to be able to negotiate hard to get the very best prices, highest quality materials and exact quantities all within very tight deadlines. From one year to the next, purchasing strategies will rarely be the same, due to ever-changing partnerships and chosen suppliers.
Managing approved suppliers on a daily basis
Day in, day out, buyers need to work very closely with their company’s suppliers. To build sustainable partnerships, they often need to meet up with them in person, setting up contracts, attending trade shows and the like, all part of the negotiation dance. Their work also involves negotiating calls for tender. As part of the process, they’ll need to select suppliers based on established criteria and convince their own internal customers (the various departments within their company) that the chosen supplier is the best candidate for the job.
A very international career...
Overseeing a global portfolio of orders, deliveries and deadlines, as well as calls for tender, buyers are often expected to travel - often internationally - to meet with various suppliers and stakeholders.
Alongside excellent listening and analytical skills, buyers need to be solid negotiators through and through, as well as determined, perseverant and convincing individuals. Knowledge of foreign languages is always a plus when dealing with overseas suppliers.
Typical educational background
5 years of higher education in business studies, masters in purchasing or logistics.
3 years of advanced vocational studies in business or design