James joined Procurement Heads in 2019 and is Director of the Financial & Professional Services practice.

Why did you choose procurement recruitment as a career? 

I chose procurement recruitment as a career because it is a relationship-driven industry with many synergies to the soft skills that make people good in recruitment: influencing, negotiations, building rapport, etc.

I also feel like it is a grossly misunderstood profession.

If you ask the average person on the street what they know about procurement, most of them will stare back at you blankly until you say purchasing or respond with ‘buying stuff’.

The reality is that procurement is so much more complex and valuable than that, particularly as we look to lessen our impact on the environment through sustainable procurement. 

What sort of procurement roles do you recruit and where? 

I recruit senior procurement mandates – such as Chief Procurement Officers, Procurement Directors, Heads of Procurement, Procurement/Category Managers and Procurement Consultants – within the financial and professional services sectors, predominantly in the UK.

What qualities do you believe are integral to being a successful procurement recruiter?

I believe you need to be driven, conscientious, commercial, emotionally intelligent and politically savvy with the ability to build deep, long-lasting relationships.

The latter can only be achieved through having integrity and doing what you say you’re going to do.

Building a stellar reputation for what you do and who you are is the only way to have longevity in this game. 

What do Procurement Heads’ values mean to you? 

Our values are simple – rewarding relationships, exceeding expectations and doing the right thing – and they underpin everything I do.

The only way to have a long and successful career in recruitment is by forging deep, long-lasting relationships by exceeding expectations and doing the right thing.

Maya Angelou once said: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” This, for me, says it all: do a great job for people, work with integrity and follow relationships. 

And our purpose is to deliver recruitment as a professional service, what does that mean to you? 

To deliver recruitment as a professional service is to offer a suite of services beyond just ‘filling jobs’.

We emulate management consultancies in the way we operate by consulting with our clients and finding creative solutions. 

How has procurement changed during your time recruiting into the sector?

In the time I’ve recruited into the sector, I’ve seen a shift in the cross-functional pecking order of procurement; it has a better seat at the table within businesses.

The global pandemic, geopolitical uncertainty and economic downturns have helped shine a light on procurement, but the pivotal role of procurement is still often overlooked.

Looking ahead, I envisage the profession’s importance to grow significantly.

What inspires you? 

As humans, we are hardwired through millions of years of evolution to do things and solve problems — I know I am at least.

I enjoy being productive with my time and pushing myself, both professionally and personally, to be better than I was the day before. 

What 3 words would you use to describe your professional self?

Driven, conscientious and disciplined.

What do you enjoy most about procurement recruitment? 

I love learning new things, seeing new things, doing new things and meeting new people.

Procurement, like recruitment, requires you to build rapport with people but also be tough when you need to, especially in a negotiation – it’s a game. I also find procurement recruitment stimulating because it forces you to understand complex business models very quickly and extract the most meaningful, impactful information.

You need to ask the right questions, digest what you’ve been told and present the facts in the most appealing and logical way. 

What are some of the biggest highlights since you joined Procurement Heads?

The biggest highlight for me has been building a team and watching them grow and develop as recruiters.

There are, of course, also personal achievements that I’m very proud of such as breaking all-time company revenue records, but I get a bigger buzz now from helping people realise their potential and, therein, helping this brilliant business to scale and grow.

On that note, we’ve also enjoyed some brilliant teamwork incentive trips, from surfing to go-kart racing! 

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