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New Talents In Procurement

Besides negotiating skills and market knowledge, there are new skills required from procurement people as the field is always changing.

How to achieve Agile procurement? How to improve process efficiency and keep pace with accelerating change?

Agile Procurement in VUCA world is a must. The time that procurement procedures & routines were constant, made same way for ages are far gone by now. The volatility of market, constant transformations and compaction makes the procurement role different. We are entering the age of turbulence and procurement very often facing sudden and unpredictable market changes like: shortages of raw materials, shortages of production capacities as a consequence of nature disasters or much bigger market demands, “black swans” appearance and other game changers and law changes removing small players from markets. That is why it is important to build new skills, flexible procedures and internal relations that make change and the process quick and without many stages of acceptance. Procurement should also be very close to the business and involved in all processes from the beginning, to be able to serve the purpose and bring all necessary solutions in time.

Why is it important to invest in new talent and capabilities for the procurement function? How to attract new talent into procurement and retain it?

Because of procurement changes, procurement people need to have much more skills to work effectively than before. Negotiation skills and market knowledge are still a must, but what is needed on top of that is flexibility, orientation on change, ability to build relations, partnerships and mentality of a winner not a victim. Procurement people shall not think what cannot be done, but rather what do I have to do and what resources do I need to make things happen. Procurement needs to be able to use market intelligence tools and have high analytical skills, but at the same to build strong interpersonal abilities. The process of contracting is no longer only transactional win-win, but building long-term oriented partnership and innovation hubs serving each other. Procurement shall be an effective connector between internal clients and external partners. Buyers now have to be more strategy-oriented than transactional, having competences and also substantial knowledge to be a good business partners to internal clients. They shall develop not only commercial and legal but also more technical & IT competences and act as a centre of excellence.
To attract and retain new talents strong leadership skills of management are needed and also organisational culture that makes people feel comfortable. Traditional benefit systems are no longer enough because people are more flexible now to change jobs and travel all over the world. People should love what they do and grow in the environment that makes them fly higher. Appreciation, time spent on building internal relations, trust and always honest & constructive feedback build relations that make people feel at home. The values that company respects and mission that makes people believe in what they do, as well as awareness that my job helps the final product to be excellent and wanted are most important.

What will procurement and sourcing look like in 2030?

The procurement in digital world will be different. Procurement will have a more strategic role and different competences. Flexibility, ability to manage change, react immediately and strong responsibility awareness will be needed. Some people will change their profiles and some from engineering, IT and production roles will join New Procurement. In VUCA world only Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity are certain. That is why we have to be able to act as a crystal ball gazer. We have developed strong crisis management skills and ability to act quickly, in an agile way and constantly learn. We need to be smart enough to use Smart Systems and Smart Data and still be opened for start-ups and sometimes risky solutions. We need to be able to combine our constantly developed and trained human intelligence together with the artificial one.


Karolina Topczewska, Purchasing Head at PolPharma Biologics has more than 20 years of professional experience across the pharmaceutical and bio industries, combining in-depth knowledge of sourcing and procurement with management experience in engineering and strategic purchasing functions. Since joining Polpharma as Investment Purchasing Specialist in 1999, Karolina has held roles of increasing responsibility at the organisation, including Category Manager for Polpharma Group and, subsequently, Head of Purchasing, both for Polpharma Pharmaceutical Works and now for Polpharma Biologics SA. She earned her master’s degree in Law from Gdańsk University and MBA from University of Minnesota (Carlson School of Management) and completed her post-graduate studies – European Integration – Aid Funds at Gdańsk University.

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