A seasoned procurement professional has shared personal experiences of his transition from young “arrogant know-it-all” to a practitioner who considers a measure of humbleness crucial to proper professional growth.

Aspiring young professionals in their first procurement jobs and supply chain jobs may cringe to recognise in themselves some of the attributes that supply chain management veteran turned college professor Rich Weiss describes. 

Writing for Supply Chain Dive, he shares an experience of attending a professional development seminar with a group of equally arrogant young men who, like himself, worked in procurement for successful companies that shared an arrogant work culture. 

The young men challenged the female instructor, an exceptionally well-qualified and savvy business lawyer, made jokes and teased the other students, “treating the seminar as a way to escape the office and gain a couple of professional certification points”.

To his credit, Weiss concedes that he remains embarrassed by his youthful behaviour to this day, many years later.

He now understands that the most promising talent in this field, whether they’re permanent employees or supply chain interims, appreciate that professional development is more than gaining professional certifications to adorn the office or simply keeping abreast of current developments in their industry. 

As he puts it, professional development is primarily concerned with “taking personal responsibility for your actions and properly representing yourself, your company and your profession”.

In retrospect, Weiss reports that he had no cause for such arrogance given the high calibre of the other students at the seminar, who were working assiduously to grasp the complexities of contract law in a two-day programme.

They benefited from those two days, while he virtually wasted them.

As his professionalism grew, he found himself rediscovering his naturally staid and respectful character attributes, and the know-it-all youth he once was receded into history.

Young practitioners seeking career advancement in procurement would do well to resist peer pressure to act like immature adolescents when these learning opportunities arise, and use them respectfully to grow professionally.

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