A category manager is a specialist procurement expert within a niche area of spend, driving down costs and contributing to the growth of the business. We spoke to an experienced category management professional to find out what it's really like to work in this role.
What does a typical day consist of for a category manager?
I ensure I'm constantly up to date with market trends, competition and risk in my category, and assess the performance of our suppliers on a regular basis. Awareness in both these areas will lead me to identify an opportunity for improvement, and develop a strategy to achieve it; frequently, the next step will involve leading contract negotiations with new or existing suppliers.
Another aspect is communication. As well as managing relationships with vendors and suppliers, I need to keep stakeholders updated on targets, planning and spend, ensuring category performance is in line with the organisation's objectives.
How has your career progressed to date?
After my business degree I was very interested in pursuing a strategic role where I could also use my people skills. My first job was as a buyer, working up to senior buyer and gaining CIPS qualification, and then moving to a procurement manager job. The broad knowledge I developed while working in that role enabled me to move to a relevant category manager job at a blue chip organisation.
What do you enjoy most about the role?
It's always great to be personally responsible for improvements to the company's bottom line. In my current role I've generated several million pounds of savings.
What advice would you give to anyone seeking a category manager job?
You need to know your category inside out. In fact, knowledge is not enough – it requires passion and enthusiasm for the category too. While professional qualifications and experience in other procurement jobs is of course useful, there is no substitute for a deep understanding of how the category works and what factors will affect it.
Find your next role with Portfolio Procurement
Portfolio Procurement is a specialist recruitment agency for category management jobs, as well as roles in buying and sourcing management. If you are looking for the next step in your career, browse our available procurement vacancies or call to discuss your goals.
Meanwhile if your organisation has a category manager vacancy that needs filling, call us on 020 7650 3191 for assistance finding the highest calibre candidates.