I was delighted when Tesca Group CPO Nadia Stoykov agreed to write an article for the Sourcing Solved Community Blog.

Her post, which you can access through the provided link, delivers several key insights into successfully identifying, pursuing, and retaining procurement talent by treating it as a strategic sourcing process. If you haven’t read it yet, I strongly suggest you do.

Of the many points, she discusses in supporting her strategic sourcing approach, the ones she made at the end of the article resonate with me.

Specifically, how a “job description or title is not a good indicator of future performance.” In other words, you cannot tell the contents of a book by its cover or keyword searches in the case of hiring.

Nadia questions the use, reliability, and importance of the keyword search process employed by many internal Talent/HR departments to identify potential candidates. In her years as a top procurement executive, Nadia believes that searches are incapable of “capturing the diverse skillsets” a candidate needs to be successful in our industry. The exclamation point at the end of this observation is her openly wondering how said skillsets would show up in a keyword search in the first place.

Her 50 names example is notable as it highlights the challenges with sifting through the volumes of resumes her company received that were focused solely on functional keywords versus strategic skills.

Procurement And The Bigger World

Nadia pointing out the challenges with identifying (and verifying) the needed diverse skillsets of candidates using a generalised HR/Internal Talent framework is not just an opinion.

To start, she has held senior procurement positions with notable companies such as Valspar, Ahlstrom, and Tesca Group. She was also an Attorney at Law.

If you visit her LinkedIn profile, you will also note that in her senior positions at global brands such as Dow Chemical, she oversaw diverse business areas, including Commercial Excellence, Customer Service & Strategic Development, Supply Chain, to name just a few.

Why is this important?

Because she has an in-depth understanding of enterprise-wide functions and goals beyond procurement and the supply chain, she knows what skillsets to look for in a potential new hire.

Given the Deloitte Global 2021 Chief Procurement Officer Survey findings, this broader view of procurement and its role in the bigger world is essential to achieving a successful hire. You read that right – you have to achieve a successful hire which means CPOs “must own” the hiring process if they want to successfully navigate the “changing business dynamics and increasing layers of complexity” in business today.

The Right Level Of Expertise

I have for my entire career held the belief that being able to recruit talent to build a team effectively requires the same level of expertise as strategic sourcing. In other words, it is not a transactional process where you simply check off a list of keywords. As Nadia stresses in her article, “you need to think outside the box” to be able to differentiate between functional/hard skills and strategic thinking skills.

So, how do we identify strategic thinkers or procurement leaders?

Today, I will focus on the following five attributes you need to identify your procurement leaders using our unique acronym – FUTURE:

F– The cognitive FIREPOWER of critical thinking that is needed to reason, plan, adapt and learn. Testing cognitive ability can discern the excellent procurement leaders from those who are simply good by measuring their ability to solve sophisticated, complex, and novel problems in high-pressure procurement environments.

U– UNIQUENESS of you/your team/procurement function. Personality is a way of describing and understanding the consistent patterns that affect how people are likely to think, act and work. In simple terms, personality (Conscientiousness, Openness and Curiosity, Emotional Intelligence) describes the underlying preferences that influence a person’s behaviour. Similar to cognitive ability, personality is relatively stable and consistent over time.

T– TRANSFORMATIONAL purpose or motivation describes an individual’s levels of drive, energy and ambition, also referred to as achievement orientation. It is widely explored in psychology (almost as much as cognitive intelligence); it determines a person’s work ethic or willingness to work hard. A procurement leader’s motivational purpose is the inner compass that propels them and their organisation forward.

U– UNIQUENESS OF THE ROLE: Leadership competencies in context. A weak link in many assessments is an overemphasis on assessing leadership competencies without sufficient understanding of or reference to the unique role, context, dynamics and demands of the system that the person will be working within.

The foundation of any successful assessment is a solid understanding of which psychological characteristics are essential for success in this particular Procurement role. If this understanding is lacking, the evaluation may be able to identify a high potential candidate in theory but not necessarily in practice for this particular
role or context.

R– REFLECTIVE Growth and learning agility – or awareness of learning agility is a distinct concept that can fundamentally contribute to performance and realising one’s higher or optimal potential. It is a relatively new concept compared to other areas such as cognitive ability, personality and motivation. That said, mainstream recognition of its importance over the past several years means that it is becoming a core metric to measure individual self-learning and performance ability.

E– ENTREPRENEURIAL drive or how a procurement leader “leads” in VUCA times. As the world has become increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA), more traditional approaches to leadership have become increasingly ineffective. Future leaders will need to take an entrepreneurial approach to guide people and teams.

How do you identify the above FUTURE leadership qualities from a “keyword” search of someone’s resume? The simple answer is you can’t.

To Learn about FUTURE, click on the following link.