Your next port of call?

Your next port of call?

Negotiating skills, keeping your cool, and being able to handle money are important for working in procurement

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Ivan Chan, of Hongkong International Terminals
Ivan Chan, of Hongkong International Terminals
Interviewee: Ivan Chan Kwun-fai, procurement associate, Hongkong International Terminals (HIT)

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I have a Higher Diploma in Purchasing and Supply Chain Management from the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education (IVE). I did an internship at HIT and was given a job offer after I graduated.

I purchase materials and services to support the operation of the company. I work for a container port business, and there is a lot of heavy machinery that needs maintenance and cleaning. I am in constant contact with vendors to help the company find the best buys.

Each day I need to manage the tendering process for vendors and help prepare contracts to finalise deals.

Moving up

As one moves up, he or she will become involved in bigger transactions. The stages are: procurement associate, assistant procurement officer, procurement officer, senior procurement officer, procurement manager and senior procurement manager.

Race to the top

Procurement is all about negotiating the best deal, so excellent negotiation skills are needed. Lots must be learned on the job.

There can be many unexpected situations during the procurement process - bad weather may delay the delivery, or the wrong products may be delivered. These unforeseen problems mean you must be able to remain calm and confident to solve problems. People working in procurement have to handle a lot of money, so they should beware of bribery.

Rewards and benefits

The starting salary of a procurement associate is about HK$9,000.

A day in the life

I start my day at about 8.30am and finish at 5.30pm. There are a lot of tasks to handle so I begin by making a "To Do" list for each day.

Departments within the company send requests for materials or services. I inform vendors of the requests through our company's online procurement system. Vendors might put in offers.

I will set a time limit for the tendering process, which is usually 2pm. After a vendor is chosen, I make a term contract with them to confirm the deal. I handle 20 to 30 such deals a day.

Jargon

Tendering - the bidding process for vendors to place their offers

Term contract - a written agreement between the vendor and the buyer which states a fixed duration that the contract will be in effect.

Purchase order - a document issued to vendors to confirm a deal. It includes details such as the address and date for delivery and specifications of the purchased items.

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