Rupert Gaster

Rupert is Procurement Heads’ Founder and Managing Director, having formed the company in 2012.

Why did you choose procurement recruitment as a career?

I was introduced to someone working in recruitment early on in my career and the way they described the profession really appealed to me.

Within recruitment, you are able to focus on people and combine this with marketing and sales.

I joined one of the big global recruitment agencies, where I specialised in finance and accountancy.

Procurement teams often reported into finance so this gave me exposure to the function and what procurement professionals do, which was effectively the catalyst in my setting up Procurement Heads in 2012.

Procurement was relatively untapped back then and some people barely knew what it was.

In social situations, when asked what I did for a living, quite often the response would be, “What’s procurement?” – but I could see that procurement’s time would come, and it really has.

Since founding Procurement Heads I’ve never looked back.

During that time the company has evolved significantly – what are some of the biggest highlights, and what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?

I think, like many, we’ve witnessed unparalleled and seemingly back-to-back black swan events that have each provided their own unique challenge, be that Brexit, the global pandemic, ongoing geopolitical uncertainty and the recession.

Procurement has become instrumental to the survival and growth of companies. To be part of this sea change motivates me every day.

The team has shown exceptional resilience against this backdrop, and I’m proud of how we have adapted individually and as a business.

I am a highly people-orientated person, so seeing the team grow and develop has been a particular highlight.

What sort of procurement roles do you recruit and where?

Typically, I focus on recruiting senior-level Interim procurement and supply chain roles and partner with organisations looking to recruit transformation and change management specialists.

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

I think recruitment and procurement have many synergies, and to be successful in either field I believe you need to be adept at building and nurturing partnerships that are mutually beneficial.

Collaboration is also key to having a successful recruitment career.

What do Procurement Heads’ values mean to you?

We’re lucky to have an amazing team, one that has been built in recent years around a strong values set and that is dedicated to finding brilliant candidates who exceed the expectations of our clients.

We strive to do the right thing, and that is why we are passionate about sharing thought leadership that shapes the future of procurement.

It is why we are all ambassadors for the Sustainable Procurement Pledge and signatories of the Race Fairness Commitment Pledge, the Change the Race Ratio and the Armed Forces Covenant.

When I started working in procurement recruitment, I could sum it up in three stark words: ‘male, pale, stale’. I didn’t want to perpetuate this legacy so at Procurement Heads we work incredibly hard to support and promote the careers equally of people from all walks of life, age, sex, beliefs, nationalities and religions.

They are more than just words for us; they are the guiding principles of how we build our teams and future leaders and how we inspire organisations to diversify talent pools. We have a global multi-cultural following and are duty-bound to reflect this in our hiring processes.

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

It’s all about building collaborative partnerships. Recruitment is a professional service, but all too often it’s viewed as a necessary evil. I’ve always sought to elevate the profession.

What inspires you as a leader?

You have to be passionate about people in this profession, I once read the quote that an ‘authentic leader is relentlessly interested in their people’. But I also love passion and energy, that takes you far in life.

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

Determined. Authentic. Trustworthy.

What do you enjoy most about procurement recruitment?

Changing jobs is a huge life moment and I genuinely find it an honour to support people on that journey.

Furthermore, I find it hugely pleasing to see procurement professionals excel in their organisations and go from strength to strength.

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

In the past, clients would be most interested in a candidate’s sector knowledge and expertise, for instance, “Don’t bother sending me anyone who’s not already an expert at professional services”.

Of course, this is still important.

But now, what we’re looking for most is how candidates deploy their skills and knowledge: how they partner with other teams around the business; how they work with suppliers without an unnecessarily aggressive approach; and how they work without a mandate – great procurement professionals are so good at building relationships, they don’t need a mandate.

​The manner in which procurement has responded to VUCA events has heightened its profile exponentially, something that, in my opinion, will only continue to grow.

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