Commercial contract management is a career pathway that can be misunderstood and is often undervalued. This confusion and ambiguity brings uncertainty to an industry that holds such great potential and opportunity and those operating in the sector are hopeful of a surge in talent. Regardless of what stage you are at in your career – from graduate to experienced professional – the field of commercial contract management should not be overlooked.

Potential to develop key business skills

As an ever-changing andfast-paced industry, roles within CCM offer the development of key business skills, many of which are transferable across a range of sectors. Data from the International Association for Contract and Commercial Management (IACCM) reveals that 88 per cent of surveyed contract managers would recommend contract management as a good starting point in a professional business career, and this is because of what it can offer its future employees.

The way in which skills can be adapted and built upon here begins through the foundations that CCM provides and is a real pull for considering a career in the field. Whether this is through opening pathways to explore negotiations of major contracts; exposure to multiple business fuctions; or driving change and identifying leadership qualities, CCM is a real-eye opener.

Opportunity to accelerate careers

The Center for Advanced Procurement Strategy (CAPS) stated in a recent report that 70 per cent of companies are experiencing a supply management shortage and this is mirrored in supplier organisations. This highlights a challenge across the industry, and the gap in talent marks a real need for CCM professionals and those who seek to accelerate their career in the field.

One of the best routes into CCM is via a graduate scheme with a multinational company; to name a few BAE, Rolls Royce and CGI offer excellent graduate programs. It is also important to take on continuous in-house and external training to enhance professional development, explore mentoring and partnership opportunities and concentrate on finding the right pathway.

By up-skilling in this way, it is not uncommon for career progression to move at a swift pace. Many CCM professionals earn more than similarly qualified lawyers and accountants and are typically given responsibility at an earlier stage in their career.

There is access to a wide range of sectors

To consider a career in CCM, you must recognise that the industry covers sectors far and wide, from aerospace and defence, IT and Outsourcing to oil and gas and through to engineering and rail as well.

The great thing about CCM is that these sectors offer the opportunity for professionals to become specialists in their field, strategising and dominating as a leader and innovative figure.

Working in this industry also means that the sectors will often be demanding of different projects, from negotiations to analytical tasks – a career in CCM will never be dull, and no two days ever the same.

Unknowingly, it is a thriving industry

In a report from The National Audit Office, it is estimated that just over £250 billion of central and local government money went to private suppliers in the 2015-16 financial year – that’s a lot of contracts to bid for and manage.

For large entities such as the government, and the contract possibilities that they have on offer, a third of their spending here is indicative of a thriving industry. From contracting drugs and medicine for the NHS to supplying military fleets for the Ministry of Defence, the opportunities are endless.

With the possibility to secure multi-million-pound deals and negotiate contracts and terms with some of the most well-known companies around the globe, it certainly is an attractive industry to move into.

Clear opportunity to increase visibility

Identifying leadership styles, negotiating methods and having a firm hand in understanding CCM as a professional in the sector will ensure visibility of both the profession and the professional. The same report from CAPS Research indicates that 40 per cent says that recruiting in this field is more challenging than for any other function.

Does this suggest a misunderstanding of CCM? Or that the public do not understand what the industry does? Probably; but that is changing and you can be at the vanguard of that change.

Continued exposure to senior level executives

The career of a CCM professional will provide exposure to senior level executives, board members and stakeholders. Opting for a career in this industry means that this exposure is likely to come early on, working alongside senior roles to deliver services to a wide range of potentially high-profile clients.

Looking at this from an advantageous outlook means that the progression for someone in CCM will only be stalled by their drive, not the opportunities that surround them. The insight, too, that can be passed down from senior level executives is another reason why the industry continues to grow and thrive in the knowledge it holds.

The industry is strengthened by the IACCM

The IACCM is a body that, with over 55,000 members, has a global voice in the development of the CCM industry. With great insight provided, and membership and training opportunities rife too, the IACCM is the go-to resource for CCM professionals and strengthens the work that is carried out in the industry.

It is not enough to think narrowly about your role in CCM; you too have to recognise the influence of senior officials, authoritative bodies and clients who can drive change and improve your professional journey. For those considering a career in CCM, the sky really is the limit.