Article: How to manage your procurement career throughout the cycles of womanhood

We can all agree that a career in procurement is interesting. It can also be fulfilling, demanding, and at times, overwhelming. But one thing it is not is easy.

Managing the demands of a career in procurement when you have no personal or professional conflicts in your life is still not easy. Yet if we think about one cohort who often has conflicting responsibilities outside of work (and within it), it’s women.

Throughout the cycle of womanhood, women in procurement experience many challenges, from the feeling of needing to hide their children at work, to questions around whether to return from maternity leave, to the pressure of managing work during menopause, where one out of four women consider leaving their jobs.

Managing throughout these stages is certainly no walk in the park, but it’s absolutely possible to not just survive,  but thrive.

Here’s how.

Early career

Being early in your procurement career can be both exciting and extremely challenging at the same time.

On the one hand, you may not yet have family responsibilities, so may be a little more flexible with the time you devote to work (although increasingly, Gen Z professionals are eschewing long hours and increasingly pursuing careers where they work to live, not live to work).

On the other hand though, many early career professional females report being taken less seriously than their male counterparts. As a result, they feel as if they need to work harder and do more to prove themselves.

In this career establishment phase, it’s important to establish a strong network, as well as pursue opportunities to further educate yourself and develop your skills. This includes learning about all of the latest technologies, and seeking out a mentor.

Building a robust professional network is particularly important, as it can open doors to new opportunities and provide support during challenging times.


For procurement professionals who journey into motherhood, integrating your career aspirations with caring responsibilities can, at times, feel insurmountable. Many talented procurement professionals who take maternity leave don’t return to the workforce, as the juggle feels too hard, and they seek a more peaceful existence.

Navigating this phase is tricky, and success requires a supportive working environment and open communication with your manager.

Fortunately, many organisations offer flexible work, including the options of remote working or part-time options. These, however, can come with their own challenges, as working remotely can mean that women have less access to important opportunities to amplify their presence and advance their career.

Building a strong support network, outsourcing where possible, and negotiating with your employer is critical to best managing this phase.

Mid-Career advancement

As women in procurement progress through their careers, they will inevitably be presented with – or seek out – leadership opportunities. Leadership can come in many forms in procurement, whether it be category leadership or leading people through a management or CPO role.

In order to reach (and excel) in these positions, it’s important that women continue to develop their skills, including their soft skills and also – critically – their digital skills.

It’s equally important to create a career plan and to proactively seek out opportunities to grow and develop.

Menopause and navigating career transitions

Another challenging – yet not often discussed – career phase for women in procurement is when they go through menopause. The hormonal shifts that come with this phase can be frustrating, and symptoms can include lower energy levels, less focus, and a decrease in feelings of overall well being.

Menopause can, for many women, coincide with the peak of their career. For this reason, open communication and working within a supportive environment is key.

Negotiating more flexible work schedules or workload adjustments can be important, if needed, during this phase. Women should also seek (and really, expect) support from their colleagues during this time.

Like a career in procurement, succeeding through womanhood can be a challenge: but not an insurmountable one.

Our BRAVO program can help you negotiate your career throughout womanhood. Women in our program will help to foster a sense of community, allowing you to share experiences, advice, and support with others who are navigating similar career journeys while learning.

To find out more about the 2024 BRAVO program, please click your region below:
The Americas

Melissa Ruberto will join other inspirational women working at the forefront of the industry at Women in Procurement & Supply Chain 2024, 27-29 February 2024 at the Arts Centre Melbourne. Learn more.

View the full agenda here.

To access the detailed conference program, download the brochure here.