By Arjun Chelackal Anilkumar, Commercial Manager, Augment Resources.
After completing my Master’s degree in Supply Chain Management from RMIT, Melbourne, I was in search of an opportunity to enter the world of procurement and contracts. However, a graduate pathway in this field was very rare until Augment Resources launched their 2020 Graduate Program, which allowed 11 graduates, including me, to begin their career in procurement.
My Day-to-Day Responsibilities — Every Day is a New Day
As part of the Graduate Program, I was able to work at one of the Big Four banks as a commercial analyst. My day-to-day responsibilities involved reviewing contracts, analysing spend data, validating invoices and ramped up to negotiating million-dollar contracts, and managing small-scale IT categories within two years.
In addition to the procurement responsibilities, I also had the opportunity to provide a fresh pair of eyes in reviewing the existing procurement process in the bank and make it more efficient and user-friendly for the team and our stakeholders.
Training and Mentorship Sessions — Flex Your Brain and Polish Your Skills
Augment supported the development of the graduates by providing regular training sessions. These sessions included a wide range of topics related to procurement, such as category management and contract management, workshops on soft skills such as stakeholder management, negotiation, and communication, and technical workshops for refining our analytical skills.
Apart from the training session, the best thing about the Graduate Program was that I had the privilege to be mentored by the Augment leadership team, which involved some of the best procurement professionals in the country. In the mentorship sessions, I discussed my daily tasks and found better ways to deliver my projects successfully. I also learned more about the right and ethical ways to do procurement and how vital relationships are in this field. Every mentorship session turned out to be a great conversation and knowledge sharing session where I always learned something new about procurement.
The Augment Culture — Fun-Filled Family
Everyone in the Augment Resources team was delighted to help me progress in my career. Even though there was a formal mentorship and training program in place, I always had the luxury to reach out to anyone in the team for opinions and advice. With Covid-19 forcing us to work from home within weeks of starting the program, it was easy to lose our motivation and focus. However, Augment made sure that we stayed together as a team and worked towards our goals by setting up weekly catch-ups and regular performance reviews to help us prioritise our objectives.
Friday evenings were filled with social events, online catch-ups and games to bring the Augment family together and closer. These catch-ups allowed us to meet and socialise with other procurement professionals contracted through Augment and build a robust professional network.
Getting Involved in the Business — From a Graduate to a Leader
Besides building a career in procurement, I was provided with the right set of circumstances to polish my leadership and entrepreneurial skills by getting involved in the business side of things with Augment. This turned out to be an amazing opportunity to learn something new by supporting Augment’s administration and operation.
My most outstanding achievement would be where I was given full accountability in submitting a case for the annual CIPS awards, which revolved around the graduate program. I directed the submission on behalf of Augment, where I brought together the senior members of Augment to brainstorm and share ideas to make the submission strong and unique. I also had to work with our clients in collecting the supporting materials and work with various external parties in collating all the supporting materials together. The submission was a massive success with tremendous commitment from everyone in the team, which led to Augment Resources winning the CIPS 2021 award in the ‘Commitment to People Development’ Category.
The Two-Year Transition – Bring on the Challenge
The graduate program has helped me transition from a fresher to a confident procurement professional with a solid commercial background. The program taught me the value of building relationships, taking ownership of the work you do, and being proud of the success you deliver. More than anything, I have found ways to learn from my failures and take a win at the right time.
With all the experience and knowledge I have consumed over the last two years, I am now a Commercial Manager at Augment Resources, ready to take the next challenge in my professional journey.