Category Manager vs Procurement Manager Career Paths


Which career is best suited for me? Procurement, purchasing or category management

So, you know you want to have a managerial position in supply chain logistics? That’s great! When deciding which supply chain management career pathway you want to take, there are plenty of options. In this article, we’ll look particularly at the benefits and differences between purchasing management, procurement management and category management career paths and which one is right for you.

Category manager career path

A category manager typically works within the retail industry and is responsible for developing and evaluating products and merchandise for companies. They will also need to create sales strategies and work closely with suppliers and vendors to ensure merchandise quality, supply and demand.

Category managers often have at least a few years of experience working in supply chain management and earn approximately $125,000 per year.

Category management is a fast-paced and full-on career that requires you to wear many different hats and have a variety of different skills. The difference between a purchasing and category manager comes down to the supply chain hierarchy. The purchasing manager will deal directly with the CEO and CFO, while a category manager may report to the procurement manager (depending on the size of the company).

Category manager skill sets

1. Managing suppliers

It is the category manager’s responsibility to ensure that goods and services flow uninterrupted. You are required to have an excellent relationship with suppliers to ensure this result.

2. Project management

You will need to keep focused on all elements of a project and ensure that projects meet deadlines and budgets.

3. Data management and analysis

It will be crucial that you can gather and analyse data relating to processes and determine if they are effective and productive. It’s also your responsibility to develop strategies to help rectify gaps and issues.

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Procurement manager career path

A procurement manager locates resources, merchandise and products for their company. They are responsible for deciding what services, goods and equipment their company buys or procures.

Procurement managers earn approximately $135,000 per year.

The difference between a purchasing and procurement manager is more defined in larger organisations. In smaller companies, one person can fulfill both roles. Procurement managers have a responsibility to ensure that all purchasing and procurement happens within company guidelines and meet consumer demand.

Procurement manager skill sets

1. Collaborate effectively

Businesses and teams can only operate effectively if all the moving parts work in synchronisation. Being able to collaborate and communicate needs will result in your company acquiring the necessary goods at the lowest price and the highest quality.

2. Analyse KPIs

Managers are relied on to ensure their teams are staying on track and meeting goals. Managers will gather information from internal and external sources to evaluate the KPIs (key performance index) of employees.

3. Enforce sustainability

One of the growing movements in the 21st century is the demand for sustainable practices and sustainable supply chains. Consumers want to know that they are purchasing goods and services that come from ethical, sustainable sources. The procurement manager will focus on ensuring that the supply chain is making the most sustainable choices possible to meet the demands of the consumers.

Purchasing management career path

A purchasing manager operates within the procurement end of supply chain management. They are responsible for the purchasing and buying decisions a company makes regarding goods and services.

Purchasing managers earn approximately $80,000 per year.

A good purchasing manager needs to have a mixture of skills and abilities from product knowledge to sales skills to relationship skills. They need to have a solid mix of these areas to be able to succeed in their line of work.

Purchasing manager skills

1. Organisation

You need to be able to plan and delegate tasks to team members to ensure that you are meeting deadlines, keeping documentation in order, and creating an effective routine for yourself and your team.

2. Interpersonal skills

Communication is key in almost any business deal. Effective interaction with other people will be beneficial to the success of your career. Constructive dialogue is critical and a must-have skill for a successful purchasing manager.

3. Understanding strategy

The purchasing manager needs to understand the strategy of the company they work for and be aligned with the vision of the CEO. This will provide a clear objective and guide you in daily decision-making.

Get on your career path with a logistics diploma

Although there are different elements to each of these supply chain management career pathways, there are also many similarities. One of the advantages you can give yourself is further education. The more knowledge and skills that you have under your belt, the more success you will have in your chosen career pathway.

A qualification like the Diploma of Logistics (TLI50221) can be applied to each of these careers.

Units that you will study include:

  • Lead and manage team effectiveness
  • Manage a supply chain
  • Lead and manage workplace relationships
  • Manage operational plans
  • Facilitate continuous improvement

How to decide which role is best?

There are lots of pathways available for supply chain management positions and it is smart to explore all of them to find the one that is the best fit for you and the goals that you have set for your future.

Evaluate what skills are needed for each role and honestly acknowledge whether or not they are skills you think that you possess, or want to possess. If you don’t think they are skills you have, there are plenty of ways to go about acquiring them. The College for Adult Learning offers flexible and cost-effective online diploma options for anyone interested in logistics management career pathways.

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Explore the College for Adult Learning's range of courses, across a variety of industries and qualification levels – from certificate IVs to double diplomas, construction management to human resources and leadership.

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