Thursday 17 April 2014

"So, what do you do?" - 10 Reactions Procurement Professionals Often Receive

by Aleiya Lonsdale

We’ve all been there... you've managed to avoid it for as long as possible by steering the conversation and keeping it about other people, but eventually it arrives; that dreaded moment at  a dinner party when it’s your turn to answer that fear-instilling question; “So, what do you do?”

All eyes on you, you pause, take a deep breath and brace yourself for the melange of reactions that will follow your response “I work in Procurement”.

My colleagues and I have had some interesting reactions over the years, so we've put together a list of our top 10, enjoy!

1. "Procurement? My great aunt worked in procurement during the war."

2. A blank stare into the distance

3. "...You mean buying?"

4. "Oh how interesting!" as their eyes glaze over and they reach for another olive before searching frantically for another guest with whom to make conversation

5. "Do you know Peter Smith?"

6. Rolling their eyes "is that another fan-dangled department invented by the Government in order to make yet more cuts?"

7. "Oh! Is that a thing now?"

8. "Excuse my ignorance but what actually is that?"

9. "Oh wow, not that much to do with your drama/astrophysics/biology [delete as appropriate] degree then?"

10. "And how did you get into that?"

How do you find that people react when you tell them you work in Procurement? And how can we make people see that there is more to Procurement than is popularly believed?


  1. I represented CIPS once at a school careers event – under the "procurement" . My pre booked list of interested students wasn't great. When I arrived I dressed my stand with exciting products - including a jumbo Peperami .... I was inundated!

    "Wow – what’s Peperami got to do with procurement?" There are so many aspects of procurement to talk about. I specialise in promotional products, a fairly high risk category, full of challenges. I bring it to life even for example talking about ethicability, what that means to procurement and across the world. People find it fascinating as there is so much that is not generally known.

  2. maybe we should say "strategic sourcing" instead

  3. I met the Duke of Edinburgh and when he asked what do you do, I said "I'm the procurement officer here", there was a posh mumble followed by "hmmm er, pencils?".
    I took the easy way out and said yes...

  4. My favorite playful response is, "I talk on the phone and use the computer a lot. And I read and write."

  5. I was once telling someone about all the revision I was doing to pass my Level 6 CIPS exams (in response to being questioned about why I was going to college in the evenings). When I told him, he replied "Well you'll pass that easily...I mean, how hard can it be ? It's just buying things isn't it and spending someone else's money - women are naturally good at that anyway !".

  6. I had a similar experience when, in response to a question, I responded that I was in the Air Force. "Oh, do you fly airplanes?" I responded:"No, I buy them."