Agile skills required: Understanding purchasing and supply chain management


Agility is not just about speed; it’s about making sound decisions in the heat of the moment.

It’s also a skill that is critical when it comes to meeting the complex demands of purchasing and supply chain management.

The art of buying requires that purchasing professionals be able to “hit the ground running.” In fact, it’s one of the key factors hiring managers look for when trying to fulfill such roles, says Stephen Hill, CPIM, CPM, procurement specialist with Solar Turbines and instructor for UC San Diego Extension.

In interviews over the last 10 years, Hill says he is always trying to figure out if candidates have the ability to respond quickly and effectively with little or no coaching.

Hill defines agility, in a purchasing context, as an awareness and adaptability to the myriad of complex rules and regulations. Because of that, professionals interested in a career in purchasing must be able to navigate organizations through some of the most common industry issues, including:

1.    Customs Compliance and Logistics
2.    Supplier Background Screening
3.    Financial Information and Screening
4.    Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR)
5.    Intellectual Property Infringement
6.    Conflict Mineral Reporting Requirements

Although agility is a popular industry buzzword, there’s more to purchasing that the ability to act and react quickly. To help boost performance and profits, purchasing departments must also develop strong supplier relationships, implement streamlined negotiation techniques and be able to capitalize on sourcing competencies. Purchasing professionals also need to be able to manage organizational changes as well as understand the always-fluid markets both here and around the world.

“Supply chain professionals must be analytical and technically savvy, global in mindset and have cross-functional capabilities, as well as possess general leadership skills,” said Dan LeClair, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, AACSB International. “More and more, they must understand issues related to risk and sustainability.”

To address the growing need for specialized training, UC San Diego Extension started its Purchasing and Supply Management certificate program in 1996, providing Southern California with 20 years of innovative learning opportunities to advance and enrich professionals within the field.

This year Extension will offer its Purchasing and Supply Management certificate fully online as well as continuing its traditional face-to-face format. Additionally, nine units can be transferred toward a Master of Science in Integrated Supply Chain Management with the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, which also offers a complete degree program in an online format.

For more information, contact Angela Cook at or (858) 534-8133.

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