I wrote Michael Schneider an email on February 10, 2016 seeking an appointment for an interview with him. He responded on the following day and agreed to give an interview on February 11, 2016. However, due to logistics and geographical proximity issues, we held conducted the interview over a phone call. Michael Schneider is a procurement and purchasing manager in Delphi Glass Corporation, which is located in Lansing, Michigan. The company operates a retail and wholesale business model, dealing in art glass tools and supplies. I chose Michael as my interviewee because I have a personal connection with him. Hence, I had a reasonable chance of my interview request’s success. Most importantly, procurement and supply chain sector – his specialty area – is an area in which I hope to start and build up my career after graduating.
The role of a procurement and purchasing manager is multidimensional. He is responsible for carrying out market analysis for identifying the best purchasing deals for the company. This entails acquisition of goods and services at the most favorable prices. He carries out this task by comparing the prices of materials from various suppliers, evaluating the sales patterns and levels of existing supplies, and monitoring the changes in the market that can potentially affect the supply and prices of materials. He also prepares and processes purchase orders according to the company’s policies and procedures.
His other role is to evaluate potential suppliers prior to signing them up. This is done in order to ascertain that they meet the company’s threshold criterion for partnership. He may attend conferences and trade shows in order to obtain information and contacts of prospective suppliers. The objective is to ensure that the signed up suppliers are capable of delivering goods and services in the agreed quantities, quality and in a timely fashion.
Michael is also responsible for data management. He maintains and reviews all records of purchased items, including the cost, deliveries and stock levels. He leads the procurement department in ascertaining that the data, for example, about suppliers, products and their prices is up to date. He also tracks and reports important functional metrics that could minimize the aggregate costs, as specified by the company’s goals and objectives.
In addition, Michael’s field of responsibility includes coordinating the company’s staff to ensure that all activities falling under the procurement department are implemented according to the schedule. He performs this role by holding regular meetings with employees and sellers in order to deliberate the performance of the department and address any issues in the procurement process. For example, he may occasionally need to discuss faulty materials or services delivered to a customer in order to find out what went wrong and to avoid the problem’s recurrence in the future. One of his other duties is to align other procurement category staff with their respective areas of responsibilities in order to have a wider range of category of knowledge throughout the procurement department, which helps to identify prospects within the allocated areas of responsibility.
Michael’s achieved his current position as a procurement and purchasing manager due to a combination of his educational qualifications, work experience and outstanding personality traits. He graduated with a bachelor degree in Supply Chain Management from the University of Oregon Eugene. After the graduation, he attained the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply qualification. He gained work experience while working in various capacities in supply chain industries. Michael says that he drew his inspiration to work in procurement and supply chain sector from his father who was a procurement manager at UPS. Besides his education and qualifications, his own networking and interactive capacity and those of his father, who was also Michael’s mentor, were instrumental in leading him to his current position, though he had to pass the normal recruitment procedures, which he says require more than just proof of academic success and work experience. Excellent communication skills and experience with information technology as well as a demonstration of the awareness in the contemporary issues of domestic and global business arenas are vital. They played a substantial role in making Michael stand out as the best interviewee, and thus contributed to his current employment.
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Michael’s job also entails a lot of writing. He spends over 30 percent of his time writing but the subject of his writing differs widely depending on the particular nature of a task. It ranges from simple email communications with suppliers and clients to writing complex analytical reports. Email is the most common form of written communication. Michael writes emails to suppliers in order to discuss some logistic issues, including shipments and price negotiations. He also emails the employees working under his command in the procurement department in order to communicate the matters appertaining to their roles and responsibilities and changes in the work schedules, among other issues. The other form of writing entails formal reports on a couple of topics. These include supplier assessment reports, as well as periodical department’s performance review reports. Other tasks that involve writing include creating contract management policies and formulating policies and procedures with suppliers in order to add value to the company.
It takes just a few minutes to compose an email to the employees to communicate simple internal matters, such as those mentioned above, i.e. changes in the schedule, duties and responsibilities as well as areas of allocation. Nevertheless, depending on the criticality of the issue, Michael may use email communication as a supplement to personal or phone communication. Matters that require immediate feedback are communicated by phone calls or having a conversation with a person in his office.
Composing and sending an email to a supplier also takes a few minutes, usually two to three minutes. Communications that take longer than two to three minutes are usually carried out not via emails. In cases where real-time communication with the supplier is needed, Michael relies on phone calls. According to Michael, it is easier to have a fifteen minute phone conversation than to compose thirty emails. Michael’s biggest challenge as far as communication is concerned is communicating with international, non-English speaking suppliers, due to the language barrier. Using emails in such situations would consume a lot of time, thus, other forms of communication, such as one on one conversation are practiced.
Formal reports consume the largest percentage of Michael’s time. For some reports, such as evaluation of suppliers, the company has standard templates which make formulating a report easier. Creating such a report could take approximately one hour, not including the time spent in gathering and assessing information about a supplier. Writing periodical reports on the department’s performance could take as long as one week, as it requires thorough analysis of various qualitative and quantitative performance metrics.
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My interview with Michael was very informative, educative and insightful. It was very interesting to learn that his position of procurement and purchasing manager entails a lot of writing, and that email is the most typical medium of communication. Notably, the kind of writing is dependent on a number of factors, including the specific characteristics of the message’s recipient, the complexity of the communicated issue and urgency of feedback. This interview prepared me mentally in terms of expectations for my future career in procurement and supply chain industry.