Last week, I attended the Procurement Leaders' Next Decade San Francisco event at the St. Francis Yacht Club. My biggest takeaway: Procurement agenda is alight with complex and emerging problems. Surrounded by 50 of my peers, I spent the day benefiting from probing discussions and strategic and actionable thinking.

In particular, the following topics hooked my attention:

  • Recruiting and Retaining Top Talent: Compared to career paths in other functions, Procurement careers are more non-linear and, in many cases, lack precedent. CPOs are hiring talent specializing in Big Data, Business Development and even Sales as they redefine the agenda and add value add of their organizations. 
  • Supply Chain Risk Management: Cisco Systems offered key insight into their simple, yet effective playbooks. Real time incident management and monitoring looks to be the way forward.
  • Corporate Social Responsibility: Now a “revenue generator,” Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs offer substantial ROI and a more compelling contribution to brand image and C-Suite agenda.
  • Innovation: Innovation cycles are getting shorter and disruptive technologies are the norm. Innovation acquisition has multiple stakeholders and is an iterative and inherently messy process – something that Procurement excels at. Sourcing innovation requires supplier segmentation, identifying and nurturing a small group of suppliers and a well-defined process (innovation assessment, IP protection, benefit sharing strategy) to manage the innovation pipeline. 

After a thought-provoking event, a fellow attendee pointed out the true value of networking: "It helped me get out of the day-to-day and think of the one or two ideas I want my team to execute in the next six months.”

By tapping into your peers’ thinking, you unearth your own creativity that would have otherwise lain dormant. If you’ve bypassed such opportunities even for a quarter, you’re doing yourself a great disservice. I urge you to set aside time to shake up your perspective. With social and mobile engagement charging innovative ideas forward at remarkable speed, you cannot afford to not be part of conversation.

Have you been inspired by a recent networking event? Share your ideas in the comments below or tweet me @anugard.