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Sr. Category Manager

At Northwestern Mutual, we are strong, innovative and growing. We invest in our people. We care and make a positive difference.


Responsible for key categories of indirect spend and lead strategic sourcing initiatives across the business. This role will lead efforts to optimize the supply base, generate cost savings and support digital transformation initiatives. In this role, you will develop as well as lead new and ongoing relationships with business partners and vendors to build long-term business alignment; influence those interacting with vendors on management and assessment of vendor performance; develop sourcing and negotiation strategy; lead vendor negotiations to achieve optimum results (i.e. cost, quality, , terms, etc.); anticipate client needs and recommend options that align with strategic direction; support strategic sourcing strategies to achieve return on investment and build longer term relationships; and support ongoing innovation and process improvement, identifying efficiencies in vendor-related processes and practices. Category Managers work in a collaborative environment with senior leaders and other internal partners (e.g. Legal, Compliance, Risk). Excellent influencing, analytical, communication and presentation skills are a must.

Primary Duties and Responsibilities

  • Develops strong relationships with key partners and groups for their respective category and with key providers in current and future markets.
  • Acts as a trusted business advisor providing thought leadership and consistent customer service whilst delivering qualitative and quantitative value to the organization.
  • Provides subject matter advise to internal and external partner groups addressing current/future business needs demonstrating marketplace and category knowledge.
  • Leads and influences partner groups with sound and articulate business case recommendations (i.e. build vs buy strategy) with quantifiable financial benefits.
  • Champion of Productivity efforts within partner base.
  • Provides consultation and guidance to business units around strategic sourcing and vendor management. Support sourcing strategies, contracting and governance to achieve return on investment and build longer term relationships. Provide vendor briefs to summarize vendor investments, risks, and opportunities.
  • Demonstrates connected thinking and strategy beyond the category with pull through in understanding how to drive value within the category of responsibility and multiple functional areas
  • Complete procurement/sourcing strategies for technology solutions such as SaaS, ERP, Software applications, and Services; drive standardization of processes and procedures, supplier selection processes and ongoing supplier management.
  • Proven understanding of procurement/sourcing/category management methodology for information technology sourcing (IT) around all lines of business and able to drive value for internal partners leveraging the right sourcing levers.
  • Develop negotiation strategies using cost/benefit analysis, should-cost modeling, market research, etc., lead negotiation efforts on new deals with cross-functional teams to achieve optimum results (i.e. costs, quality, terms).
  • Ability to incubate, develop, communicate, obtain support and implement business cases.
  • Manages, minimizes and mitigates supply/contractual/regulatory risk leveraging key functions where appropriate (Legal, Compliance, Data Privacy, Cybersecurity, Audit etc.)
  • Build strong working relationships with various cross functional groups across the enterprise, monitor partner satisfaction, and establish partner relationships to create synergies across accounts.
  • Drive the identification and delivery of financial impact for category or business area.
  • Support ongoing innovation, process improvement and identify cost optimization opportunities to deliver increasing efficiency in vendor related processes.


  • Bachelor's Degree with an emphasis in Business, Accounting/Finance, MIS, Engineering or related field, or an equivalent combination of education and work experience.
  • 7 years of experience in supplier management, category management, strategic sourcing, and vendor management.
  • Strong negotiation, communication, planning, project management, and influencing skills, as well as ability to quickly and creatively respond to change.
  • Strong customer focus and communication skills.
  • Excellent research, analytical, problem solving, planning and organization skills required as well as a high degree of personal initiative and motivation.
  • 10 years of experience in Relationship management, risk management, or project management.
  • Previous contract negotiation, contract development, and risk mitigation experience preferred.
  • Direct knowledge and/or training in formal strategic sourcing processes preferred.
  • ISM or equivalent certification preferred.
  • Consulting experience with top management consulting firm a plus.


Great pay package, 401K, Company sponsored retirement plan, Educational assistance, Performance based incentive pay, Medical, dental and vision insurance, Parental leave, Caregiver time off….and more!

Grow your career with a best-in-class company that puts our client’s interests at the center of all we do. Get started now!

W e are an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, age or status as a protected veteran, or any other characteristic protected by law.

If you work or would be working in Colorado or outside of a Corporate location, please click here for information pertaining to compensation and benefits.


We’re excited about the potential people bring to Northwestern Mutual. You can grow your career here while enjoying first-class perks, benefits, and commitment to diversity and inclusion.