Case study

Procurement category officer — Chris Curtis

Chris left the fitness industry to complete a business management degree and after graduation, returned to his former employer in a different role

How did you get your job?

Prior to studying for my BA Hons Business and Management degree at the University of Sunderland, I worked with the organisation for 13 years in a fitness role. My aspirations were always to move away from that and look toward my interest in business.

During my degree, I secured an opportunity in the business sector as a key account manager. I gained 16 months experience in the role while completing my degree. This combined academic and real life experience and gave me what I needed to apply successfully for my current role. 

I am now working back at the University of Sunderland as a procurement category officer. I was excited by the role and worked hard on the application and interview preparation. Graduating with a business degree at the university was vital to my success in achieving this.

What's a typical working day like?

I arrive at work around 8:30am. I work with various employees across the university to source appropriate suppliers to obtain the required good/services. I evaluate tender processes by scoring supplier submissions and manage supplier contracts to ensure maximum performance, increase the value and maintain good supplier relationships.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I'm new to my role so I'm enjoying the learning opportunities that have been presented to me, gaining an insight into procedures and specific practices. The role does include a lot of relationship building, both internal and external, which I really enjoy. The most exciting part for me is the contract management aspect of the role, helping the university get the most value out of the contracts we have with various suppliers.

What are the challenges?

I enjoy the challenge of marking supplier tender submissions, having to be very analytical and precise in my scoring and feedback.

Another challenging part of my role is managing the workload when multiple tenders are in play. There is a lot of documentation to prepare and meetings to be held so when there are a number of tenders due at the same time, it can be challenging to manage.

Where do you hope to be in five years?

My aim within the next five years is to keep progressing with my career and move into a management position when the right time and opportunity arises. Hopefully that will be at the University of Sunderland.

What advice can you give to others?

  • Set yourself a goal or target and create steps towards achieving it. I was stuck in a job for 13 years that I knew wasn't fulfilling my potential so I set the goal of starting a new career and enrolled onto a degree.
  • Continuous learning is important. A family member has a PhD in organisational development and is now a director at a huge educational institute. He has always told me how education has propelled him forward in his career. I can now relay that same advice, since finishing my degree my career has gone from strength to strength.
  • Learn to be adaptable and resilient. Change is often inevitable and becoming flexible and adaptable to change is a great skill. Becoming resilient to set-backs and challenges and keeping a positive mindset by turning them into opportunities for growth will only open more doors to success.

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