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What Does a Global Purchasing Manager Do?

By C. Webb
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A global purchasing manager negotiates, oversees, and manages global contracts of procurement. This typically involves understanding all aspects of business, purchasing, and advertising. Many global purchasing managers also learn a second and sometimes a third language to better communicate with those they deal with the most during the course of business.

The primary difference between a domestic purchasing manager and a global purchasing manager is that the global purchasing manager must be an expert in cultural business differences. Contracts may not be in his or her first language, and he must be able to communicate questions and concerns effectively until the contract is exactly what it is supposed to be.

Communication to staff members is another responsibility of a global purchasing manager. He or she often acts as a liaison between his or her company and the international vendors it works with. Not only does the global purchasing manager explain the contract's fine points, but he or she often discusses the business culture of the vendor to help the operation go more smoothly.

Travel is usually expected of the global purchasing manager. Companies that have vendors throughout the world often send their purchasing managers to visit, communicate inventory needs, and iron out disagreements. The value of such communication can mean the difference in continued business relationships with vendors and being cut off from supplies.

Companies often require the global purchasing manager to hold a bachelor's degree in purchasing or international relations. Many purchasing managers attain a master's degree to increase their market value. Speaking more than one language is considered a significant asset in this field.

Another duty of a global purchasing manager is to supervise the purchasing staff. He or she typically has a dollar threshold that purchasing agents work with. For example, one company may instruct the manager to personally sign off on any purchase over a certain amount of money. He or she may also instruct staff members that certain vendors are only to deal directly with the manager, such as in cases where cultural differences may not be understood by most of the staff.

Global purchasing managers are expected to stay abreast of international issues. For example, if a nation in which the manager's company buys supplies suddenly goes under siege, the manager must know who to contact to continue doing business. Conversely, if it is no longer possible to do business there, the manager is expected to have a back-up plan with another company so production is not disrupted.

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