Peter Masharia’s role at Nakumatt Rwanda is to ensure that when clients walk into the supermarket, they don’t leave disappointed for lack of what they were looking for or for lack of a variety of products. He heads the purchase department. He talked to Education Times’ Collins Mwai about his career.
What do purchase department heads do?
Part of the tasks entail overseeing control of stocks to ensure we don’t experience a shortage of products or more than our clients require this is done by seeing to it that stocks held are of the right amounts and quality. I also ensure that products are well displayed for clients’ convenience.
I have to liaise with producers of products, both new and existing ones to order goods that will meet the customer requirements. Ensuring proper pricing of the displayed items is also one of my tasks. We study consumer trends to know what goods to stock and to have a plan to meet your market demands.
To get to your level, what course should one take at an institute of higher learning?
A business-related course would be good for you to understand procurement processes and market trends. But most of the training is received in the course of work because you begin at a junior level and acquire skills as you progress.
Some begin as shop assistants but with time climb the levels to bigger responsibilities.
Any other skills that may come in handy?
Proper product knowledge of what is available in the market does you a lot of good. This mostly comes from being curious and observant. You should also be observant of clients’ purchasing patterns.
Being social is a trait one should have too since you work in a team set up and can’t perform well in isolation. When you are a team leader it is almost mandatory that you have such skills.
Considering that you have been in this line of work for a while, what trends have you observed?
Of course, they have to do with technological changes that weren’t available previously and yet go a long way in helping with the monitoring of stocks held and generating reports.
Such software and solutions ease work but one has to learn how to use them and have the latest one’s available.
How does one advance in this line of work?
One begins in junior level and the longer you work, the more you take in, the better you get and the more responsibilities you are given.
One progresses by experience, it is a sure way to grow career wise, but it is always good to increase your scope of knowledge through academics.
What about your job do you like most?
I meet people from all walks of life on a daily basis and create networks. I meet clients and suppliers and from them learn a lot.
It is also interesting to learn about markets and products that I would never have had a chance to learn about.
If one is looking to be a procurement head, what challenges should they expect?
Once in a while you may deal with an unreliable supplier who may cause you to inconvenience or disappoint your clients, but that is not frequent.
What is the chain of command at work?
As the procurement or purchase head, I have the branch manager above me and below me; there is the general procurement head and a consumables head. The procurement is split into two, perishables and non perishables.
What would cause one to fail in your line of work?
Not being keen to the customer trends or to plan ahead could cause you to fail at work as your plans may not be well calculated.
If you are not social as well, you may not be the best you can be as you are always dealing with clients and suppliers on a daily basis.
If I want to have your job some day, what advice do you have for me?
Enjoy what you do, that way you give it your all. Observe and take in what is happening around you to give you an understanding of trends. Top that up with knowledge of as many products as you can. Be patient while waiting to ascend to higher levels.