A Senior Procurement Contractor’s Perspective. He Speaks Out About Why Contract Work Is Better

May 14, 2013

As you’ve probably noticed, we’ve blogged a lot recently about our initiative to expand Contingent staffing initiatives in Procurement and Supply Chain. Gone are the days when contracts as something one did between jobs – a desperation move to make ends meet. Just as with what happened with IT 25 or so years ago, Procurement and Supply Chain contracts are fast becoming a real lifestyle alternative to permanent employment. For the right type of candidate, it’s a great way to put more money in your pocket, work on better initiatives, and have more lifestyle flexibility. It’s also a great way to build up a variety of experiences and push your career to the next level, while avoiding the label of being a “Jumpy” candidate.

To that end, we thought there would be benefit in having you hear firsthand what some of our current Contract Strategic Sourcing Contractors in our network have to say on why they prefer contract to permanent employment. Today, we interview Bob Kapani, an accountant by trade who has worked for the past 10 years in a variety of Procurement Contract roles with some of Canada’s most renowned Financial Institutions. It was great to speak with someone who’s so enthusiastic about the possibilities that Contingent Staffing has to offer.

Q Just to start, could you give us an overview of your background?

My background has been in self-employment, but at the start of my career I was working full-time for corporations. I worked for corporations that needed equipment, as well as technology. After that I worked in the oil & gas industry.

Q At what point did you decide to make the switch over to contract work and self-employment, and why?

About 9 years after graduating from university, I made the switch. I decided that it was important that I have total control over my own destiny, and my own time. You always have a boss, no matter what you’re doing. If you have a business, your boss is the customer. If you have a franchise, you still have a boss. But at a certain stage of my life, I realized I needed more autonomy, and I don’t want to have to report to anybody day in and day out.

After leaving permanent employment, I operated franchises of gas stations for 10 years. I missed the white collar work and professionals, so I came back into Procurement. Having an accounting background, I worked as a controller for a hotel. I was always on top of technology, so I then came to Toronto to work buying technology for a large Canadian bank.

When you work for somebody as a contractor, the best thing is that I treat their money as my money. I can’t allow wastage, and I’m more efficient. That lines up well with contract because you have to produce a full hour’s work to bill an hour of work.

Q One thing that a lot of Procurement Contractors love is the ability to work as a Sole Proprietor or become Incorporated. What are your thoughts about that?

I’m incorporated. Being an accountant by trade, I know that incorporation is the best option when it comes to take-home pay, and what I can and can’t write off. As a corporation, you pay a lot less taxes at 16%-17%, and you get to draw dividends. Whether it’s writing off mileage, getting paid with dividends vs. salary, getting other people involved to help you out, there’s a lot of advantages to self-incorporation. Take 100,000 as a benchmark yearly salary. If you’re an employee, you’ll only take home 55,000. As a corporation, you’ll probably bring in closer to 85k. That’s huge.

At my current contract, the discussion always comes up: do you want to take full time, and I always say no, because it doesn’t work out financially for me. I’d rather take a lower rate as a contractor.

Q What other benefits do you see day-to-day as a contractor?

I only bill for the time I’m here. I can go early on Fridays as long as my deliverables are done. You don’t have to hang around when the work is done. I do 30 hours, or 25 hours, or 40 hours, or however long it takes to get my work done.

Obviously, you have to wear the “employee” hat to a certain degree, and respect your employer. But it’s a common thing, “Bob leaves early on Fridays,” and you don’t get that with permanent full-time.

Or if I have a long lunch with somebody, I don’t include that in my billings to the company, so I don’t have to feel uncomfortable that I took a long lunch break.

Also, there’s the ability to take time off in-between contracts. I took 3 months off last summer to renovate my house.

Q Without going into anything proprietary, do you have any examples of specific projects or initiatives that you wouldn’t have been able to do in a permanent role?

Here’s an example: if I was just managing the software category, it wouldn’t suit me because I’d get bored with that. With contract, I’m exposed to hardware, software, and to professional services. I don’t have to think about if anything is too junior or too senior. If I was a senior manager of software I’d only be doing software and not telecom or services. I can do anything I want. There’s no job description here, and I really like that at this stage of my life. If you get bored easily, and you like a lot of variety, contract is great for that.

Q What would you say to someone who is still in the mindset that contract work is just a last resort?

I would say that if you have any appetite for risk, it’s a great lifestyle. Even if you’d like to eventually move to a permanent role, having exposure to different areas can really gear you up for a permanent job down the road that’s at a higher level.

Thanks Bob for that great perspective. We are all clearly singing from the same song sheet here. We find it very exciting that more and more companies are coming out to market for contract needs in SCM to augment their talent requirements and think that professionals in this highly competitive vertical should think more seriously about this alternative form of employment. Call Argentus to learn more. www.argentus.com

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