Christmas lights for Leadenhall Market

Case Study

1 October 2017

Procurement officer for City of London Corporation

Georgia is part of the City of London’s centralised procurement department, which is split into four buying teams: corporate; construction; facilities; and her team, operations below £100,000. They are responsible for tenders that are over £10,000 and under £100,000, across all categories.

Tell us about the Christmas decoration purchases

We buy decorations for Leadenhall Market, a covered area in the City with a Victorian market, shops and pubs. The tender process started in June, with the decorations going up in mid-November. The decorations we were buying included: street lighting around the market, a 40ft Christmas tree and 40 smaller trees, and very large baubles and stars.


How did you get into this job?

I started in the accounts department as an apprentice, and after a year I was lucky enough to become permanent. I spent three years in accounts payable, but spent time with some colleagues who were category managers to learn about procurement. I went for a job as a procurement assistant and was given the chance to prove myself.


What skills do you need?

Good communication skills and organisation skills.


What’s an average day like?

I normally write myself a to-do list the day before so when I get in to the office I know exactly what I am doing that day. We carry out our tenders on a portal so there is a bit of admin work that needs to be done to set up every project. We also deal a lot with suppliers and internal stakeholders. Every day in procurement is different, some days will be quiet then the next day will be crazy and non-stop, but it’s all fun and exciting!

What is the most unusual thing you have bought?

There is such a wide variety of things we buy, but these are just some of the things I have tendered for this year: tractors for West Ham Park; landscape designers; emergency lighting for our estates; steelworks to strengthen the state at the Barbican Centre; physiotherapy services, disposal and demolition of buildings; and supply of wine for the Barbican Centre.


What is the most difficult thing you have bought?

IT tenders are quite difficult as there are a lot of different technical and security elements involved.


What advice would you give to someone who wants to do your job?

Procurement is completely underrated. I left school with only GCSEs and didn’t know what I wanted to do. Even in the accounts payable job, I still didn’t know much about procurement, but I could see there was good career progression. It is a very enjoyable job, every day is different, I never feel like I am bored and you don’t necessarily need many qualifications to start. I am currently studying for my level 3 CIPS qualification. I have one more exam to do before this level is complete, then it is on to level 4!

I have worked on wine supplies for the Barbican Centre,
which involved an afternoon of wine tasting.

What are the career prospects?

I think that starter jobs as a general procurement officer pay very well, and there is so much progression to be made in a career in procurement, and so many different routes you can take – from carrying out tenders in a wide variety of spend categories to the compliance side of procurement.


Where next?

I would like to join one of the category teams in my company when I have a bit more experience as it opens you up to more opportunities. It will give me the opportunity to carry out tenders over the official European public contracts (OJEU) threshold, ie over £164,000 for goods, and over £400,000 for works.


Tell us something interesting about your business

I am constantly surprised by the wide variety of things that we buy. The City of London, which acts as a local authority, has many departments including the Barbican Centre, three schools, open spaces (Epping Forest, West Ham Park, Hampstead Heath), and many more!

 Interested in a career as a buyer? Here’s how to…