It may not be the most well-known route into a C-suite role but Alice Tomlinson, who started working for the WFA last year, outlines why marketing procurement is proving to be an attractive career.
Share this post
I never planned to enter the marketing procurement space and in that, I am not so different from many of my peers. But 10 months in, I have found the function to be an exciting step in my career.
I originally studied International Relations and after graduating in 2019 joined a legal tech firm. Fortunately, a contact connected me with the WFA and I was appointed as junior Manager for the Sourcing Forum last December.
Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many senior executives whose journey into Marketing Procurement was similar. Many have confessed they “fell” into the function but now, like me, they wouldn’t be anywhere else.
Part of the problem in attracting new talent is not many people know marketing procurement exists. Whilst there is evidence of marketing itself from as far back as 35 BC, marketing procurement has only existed for the last 30-odd years. It should also be noted that not all advertisers have a marketing procurement department.
When WFA members came together to discuss skills and capabilities in marketing procurement recently, attracting talent to the function was a key issue.
I believe there are many suitable candidates that would enjoy and succeed in marketing procurement – so if you are considering a role, here’s my take on why it could be the positive career move you are looking for.
For me, the attractiveness of marketing procurement revolves around three areas: it holds a unique position by cultivating relationships with both internal stakeholders and external partners, agencies and suppliers; it reworks the traditional role of a procurer, putting greater emphasis on adding value and delivering creativity; and it’s the “make it happen” function, as one WFA member coined.
Not only does marketing procurement bring the marketing ideas and strategy to life, but drives meaningful change in the industry, helping to establish more eco-friendly, diverse and equitable behaviours within marketing.
It’s also the range of areas that can be covered that makes it a diverse role. Since the beginning of the year, we’ve hosted 10 remote meetings, one in-person, discussing a wide range of topics, from re-thinking the working/non-working media ratio to the Metaverse.
I’ve also been impressed at the passion marketing procurement has for a more sustainable, diverse future. Since I started at WFA, I’ve witnessed marketing procurement professionals discuss in great detail how to:
- Achieve supplier diversity: our Sourcing Board collaborates with the DE&I taskforce on driving greater diversity in production, strategizing on how to measure and track diversity on shoots;
- How to reduce, re-use and recycle promotional items: members are taking action against the over-production of promotional items, admitting there are warehouses full of unused items and implementing practical changes to eliminate waste;
- Support colleague during times of struggle: the Sourcing Forum came together twice to discuss the impact the war in Ukraine. Both times, all members immediately discussed how they’re putting people first.
Marketing procurement is fundamentally about being supportive and pragmatic. The function supports their marketing colleagues but they aren’t afraid to challenge. They’re pragmatic, sensible and realistic in their advice and resourcing, empowering their marketing colleagues to make the best choices.
If I’ve sparked your interest in marketing procurement then there are a range of resources that will give you more information: I recommend Magid Souhami’s ‘The Marketing Procurement Podcast’ and the ‘MarPro’ podcast with Dana Small and Rusty Pepper, read Producers & Procurers iQ and, last, but certainly not least, download and read WFA’s Project Spring.
Finally, if you’re already in Marketing Procurement and want to learn more about how to attract new talent to your team, please join our online meeting on 28th Sept, 3-4:30pm (BST) addressing Capabilities & Skills in Marketing Procurement.