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Moving from the Private Sector to Public Healthcare Procurement can be a path less trodden.

However, one of our network of interim procurement professionals recently did just that - transitioning from a successful career in retail fashion to a senior role within a central NHS body.

She agreed to share some insights into how procurement professionals with private sector experience can bring benefits to public sector roles in healthcare. In the interview, she discusses the move, why she made it and how she's finding it.

Do you think your Private Sector Experience has benefited you in the Public Sector? If so, why?

Definitely! I think in the private sector you become used to working to tighter time frames and are forced to become more organised. Typically, a private sector tender can take 3-4 months but in the public sector it can take much longer. My experience has given me the confidence to make decisions with conviction even in Public Sector environments with a history of resistance to change.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve found with Public Sector Procurement?

The biggest challenge is the need to advertise to everybody. There are more responses on tenders, you can have over 50 companies respond, so your admin responsibilities can go up considerably!

How have you found learning to work with Public Sector Procurement regulations?

Quite easy actually. They are just a set of regulations with times and dates; kind of like milestones. In the Private Sector we had processes so it’s just a case of learning a new process as you would in any new Procurement role. My NHS employer has been extremely supportive which always helps too! I have found the process can make tendering take longer than the Private Sector but it is no harder to learn all deal with.

Nerves can come from people in the Private Sector not following the regulations. But if all the checks and milestones are in place, why would they not able to?

How have you enjoyed knowing you are working for a strong social cause?

It has a massive impact on my decision to join the NHS. I care more now about what I do, and I feel like I am making people lives better. I enjoyed working in the fashion industry deeply, but this is a new level of enjoyment. I’m now in an environment where everyone I work with cares as deeply as me.

Would you recommend moving to the Public Sector to former Private Sector Colleagues?

Yes definitely, I think procurement professionals should do both, most people pick one or the other but there are strengths and weaknesses in both. In the public sector, people do not negotiate as much but in the private they do a lot more haggling. Private Sector professionals could thrive in the Public Sector and bring a lot to it.

What would you say to a hiring manager who is not sure about hiring talent from the Private Sector?

I would ask them to really think about why they don’t want to hire from the Private Sector. If you’re hiring a professional with 10 years of Procurement experience, they will be able to follow Public Procurement processes without issue. Unfortunately, there’s always resistance to change.

The interview demonstrates that there can be rewards and benefits for middle to senior level procurement professionals in transitioning from the Private Sector to the NHS and wider public sector. Her ability to quickly pick up new regulations and processes combined with the commercial mindset she developed in retail fashion will equip interims with a well rounded set of skills and a wider appreciation of the priorities of different types of role.

If you’re interested in hiring professionals like this NHS Senior Buyer into your team or are looking to make the jump into NHS Procurement from the private sector please get in touch.

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