Concerned about your job? Focus on differentiation

Published: 12 Apr 2020 Average Rating: unrated Print

Author: Tim Cummins

As coronavirus sweeps around the world and recession looms, professionals from almost every discipline are wondering about the security of their job and income. Many are right to be concerned, but the bigger question is surely what to do about it.

Change is needed

Writing in Forbes, Mark Cohen summed up some of the critical areas where change is needed, pointing to the urgent need to eliminate organizational stovepipes and data bottlenecks: “Differentiation will become even more critical and so too will the need to collaborate with others in the supply chain. Talent platforms will accelerate this change process. There will be more collaboration across firms, corporate departments, and other providers, and the artificial divides separating them will disappear.”

Breadth and inclusion

The roles performed within a commercial and contract management process are at the foundation of these changes, yet the professionals performing those roles have in general been poorly served by universities, business schools and professional bodies. Rather than teaching breadth, they have tended towards depth; rather than encouraging collaboration, they have tended to encourage views of suspicion and skepticism to 'outsiders'; rather than taking people on a life-long learning journey, they have tended to suggest that they offer a qualification for life.

From the time of its inception 20 years ago, IACCM promoted an alternative view. It sought to provide a curriculum and continuous development that would bring together buyer and supplier perspectives, that incorporated legal and financial thinking and a whole-world perspective – in other words, encouraging collaboration within and across supply chains, promoting cross-functional empathy and coordination. For the last 16 years, that learning and certification platform has been available on-line, making it easy, efficient and low cost to access and to maintain personal learning and qualifications, relevant to these uncertain and fast-changing times.

No need for worry?

Now, that same approach is making a break-through into the university sector, with the acknowledgment that cross-disciplinary learning is urgently needed to develop social and business capability. The University of Leeds is at the forefront, but not alone in working with IACCM to develop exciting new commercial programs.

Does this mean that individuals with an IACCM certification have no cause for concern? Of course not. But it is interesting to note that, in a recent survey, nearly 80% of those in commercial roles (procurement, legal, contract management) are somewhat or very concerned about their job and career prospects. Among those with IACCM qualifications and continuous learning, that drops to slightly less than 50%. The reason? Differentiation – the ability to add value by being part of an outward-looking collaborative community.


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