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Are contract and commercial skills relevant to my job?

November 2, 2016

“The world is held together by innumerable contracts”.

That was an observation of the Nobel committee for economics when making its 2016 award. Add to this the fact that commercial innovation lies at the heart of business and enterprise success and you start to see a rather compelling case for the importance of contracts and commercial management. Indeed, in today’s volatile and unpredictable market conditions, they have arguably become a critical competency – not just for the business, but also for its employees.

Globally, governments and business leaders are awakening to the need for more agile, adaptive organizations, where commercial awareness is not restricted to a body of specialists or hoarded by a few functional experts. In the UK, commercial reform is at the top of the government agenda. In China, contract and commercial management training has become a priority in driving disciplined economic growth. Across industry, top executives are calling for increased commercial skills and identifying the critical need for innovation and speed in trading relationships.

In this environment, while there is certainly a need for contract and commercial specialists, broader awareness and understanding of these disciplines is increasingly demanded of any ambitious professional, regardless of their job role. According to one leading executive search firm, without the ‘outsights’ that are implicit to contract and commercial management, employees tend to be too inward-looking; they tend to become barriers to change; they lack the stimulus needed to promote new ideas or methods.

Many people are getting the message. More and more universities and business schools are incorporating contract and commercial management modules within their programs. Leading corporations are investing in widespread ‘commercial awareness’ training. Over the last 18 months, the IACCM ‘MOOC’ (massive open online course) has attracted almost 100,000 participants – almost all wanting to raise their personal knowledge and development, rather than any plan to pursue contract or commercial management as a job or career.

Increasingly, just understanding the inner workings of your particular business, or having the expertise of your specific work or profession, are not enough. For a career to flourish, awareness of the commercial trends in markets and an appreciation of the agreements that hold them together have become critical attributes.

The IACCM free on-line MOOC starts another run on November 14th. For details or to register visit


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