Staking out a future in procurement

Apprentice Alex Lawrence is making a huge impression in his career in procurement – a field he knew nothing about when he first left school.

Changing paths

Alex started his career into the accounts department at the University of Derby. He explains: “After I left school, I started on a level-one apprenticeship in accountancy through a training provider in Derby. I needed 100 hours of work experience so I came to the University.”

He was also given his first taste of procurement – the process of acquiring goods or services. “At the end of my time in accounts, I did a week with procurement and they asked me to stay on for a couple of weeks to help them with a procurement card audit.” Alex says.

He then went to a private company to continue his level-two apprenticeship but, after this firm went out of business, a vacancy came up as procurement administrator at the University. Thanks to his previous experience, he was offered the role.

Alex started his apprenticeship in procurement two years ago. He has just completed CIPS (Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply) level three, which is equivalent to two A-Levels. He is now moving on to his CIPS level four, which is equivalent to a higher education certificate.

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Rising star

Alex was promoted recently to assistant category specialist within our procurement department, where he is extending his knowledge of procurement regulations by training, managing and evaluating tenders.

He is also one of the University’s experts on its new finance system and is part of the team that are instrumental in ongoing enhancement.

He says: "The University recently became one of the first in the country to implement Oracle Cloud for its finance and procurement functions, and I had a big role in this. We did it all in six months, which is quite a feat as other organisations are still working through this after 18 months.

“I think it is down to good project management, commitment to change and knowing who to involve in each area.”

Choosing a career

When Alex first left school, he had no idea procurement existed as a career option. He says: “I'd probably have come into it sooner if I'd known about it. Awareness for procurement as a career option may have improved since the apprenticeship scheme was launched. North East University Procurement Consortia is now running the apprenticeship scheme for CIPS procurement qualification and this may help more people get into this as a career.

"I enjoy it because you never know what's going to come up next or what you'll be buying. The other month it was an ultrasound machine and the month before a sports kit. It's completely diverse and I really enjoy getting out there, meeting people and building relationships."