Argentus Search Stories: Hiring a Procurement Executive – on Contract?

September 27, 2016




At Argentus, we handle all kinds of searches for talent in Supply Chain, Procurement, Operations, Logistics and Planning. Every so often, we like to highlight a particularly interesting  search to help give a picture of where the market for talent is headed. To help you understand some of what companies are looking for when hiring, and what candidates are able to deliver those companies. We’ve written “search stories” about a client who wanted to avoid employee misclassification risk. We wrote about clients who have issues with salary negotiations. We wrote about a client who took our word for it that a candidate would be a good fit, even if they didn’t exactly look it on paper.

We’re always learning new lessons from our recruitment practice. Today, we want to highlight a recent search that was a bit unusual, because it speaks to how things are changing, and how companies are looking at the contingent workforce for highly strategic, Executive-level roles. We spoke with Argentus senior recruiter Adele Casciaro about the search:

The search:

“Our client was an executive at a highly-successful global food and beverage retailer, heading up Supply Chain and Logistics,” Adele says. “In moving into a new role, she inherited the Strategic Sourcing component of the Supply Chain, and identified that there was a gap in the Strategic Sourcing plan for Canada. She needed to build a plan for their commodities based on Canadian principles and the Canadian market. She needed to show the difference between the Canadian P&L (Profit and Loss) and how that lands within an overall Enterprise P&L. She needed someone who could help make relationships with internal and external stakeholders to help build the commodities sourcing with Canadian sourcing principles.”

“This individual would need a strong knowledge of food commodity vendors, who can get people’s attention, call meetings, and win influence within the organization. A former VP of Procurement. She needed a subject matter expert who could roll up their sleeves, do the investigative work to define the Procurement strategy. But it also wasn’t really a full-time job. Once the Strategic Sourcing strategy was in place, the organization wouldn’t have as great of a need for this individual. For that reason, she decided to hire on contract.”

It’s unusual for a company to hire someone at the VP level on a short-term contract, but for this kind of project-based change management in Procurement, it makes a lot of sense: the company can commit to a strategic leader for the duration of the project, until the organizational strategy is in place. Because this person is outside the organizational infrastructure, they’re better equipped to enact that change– while the candidate can leverage a very high hourly bill rate for a short-term contract. What’s more, because our client was an executive within Supply Chain, she was able to hire the contractor from a departmental budget – a different “bucket” of funding than HR. As an independent contractor, the candidate doesn’t count towards organizational headcount, meaning that the client can hire rapidly without working through HR.

The candidate:

“We initiated a search for senior-level candidates who had very specific subject matter expertise managing commodity spend, at minimum within Canada but also globally,” says Adele. “All the candidates we identified were very specific to the food industry. All were at an executive level. The candidate we ended up placing had significant designations in Procurement, as well as a Masters of Business Administration with a concentration in Food and Agribusiness Management. This candidate was a former VP of Procurement for a major organization, looking at contract as an alternative method of employment, with a very detailed knowledge of commodity spend and commodity suppliers specifically within food.”

Within a short period of time, the client was able to screen, interview, reference and hire this candidate as a contractor, and he walked into the organization and hit the ground running – operating as a high-performing subject matter expert – with a minimum of the kind of red tape that usually comes along with hiring at this level. In short order, the candidate has been able to help develop the organization’s long-term Canadian procurement strategy for commodities, and he’s looking to move to his next contract. logo_icon

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