According to a recent survey, 83 per cent of organisations report that they have had trouble recruiting suitable candidates in the past 12 months. That is not a small percentage. Of the reasons given for the challenge, the top three were competition from other employers, candidates not having the necessary work experience and candidates not having the right technical skills.

It would be safe to say that the lack of work experience and technical skills is contributing to the intense competition for talent.

So, what are the top attributes or qualities that progressive organisations look for in their next CPO? In this article, we will focus on the 5 things you, as a CPO, must be able to do to get hired and succeed.

1. Demonstrate intelligent leadership

Emotional intelligence or EQ is particularly important in a business world in which volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA) are the norm. Navigating in such a world from a procurement standpoint is especially challenging. With the emergence of the digital supply chain, there is a requirement for a high level of technical expertise and adaptability to bring about the necessary change within an organisation to achieve strategic corporate objectives. What this means is that a procurement leader must not only think outside of the box but be comfortable and confident in doing so.

2. Become relational versus transactional

Kate Vitasek, co-author of bestselling books such as Vested: How P&G, McDonald’s, and Microsoft Are Redefining Winning In Business Relationships, talks about the importance of transparency and collaboration between stakeholders involved in the procurement process. According to Vitasek, procurement must engage and work with suppliers towards achieving a mutually beneficial outcome – especially with complex acquisitions. As a result, CPOs must adopt a relational mindset and be able to articulate this new vision throughout the entire department.

3. Comfort and confidence carrying the technology banner

A McKinsey survey of 1,650 incumbent global companies found that while there was a universal recognition that digital transformation is a must, approximately 20 per cent of all respondents indicate that they have a digital strategy. Of the ones who do have a strategy, just 2 per cent involve their supply chain.

Given that a Gartner study indicates that 70 per cent of enterprise digital transformation will be facilitated through an organisation’s supply chain, bridging the disconnect between digital promise and realisation will fall squarely on the shoulders of the CPO.

As a result, procurement leaders must demonstrate that they can take the lead in making digital real within their organisations.

4. Articulate value

For many years procurement was an adjunct function of finance. The primary role of the procurement professional was to wait to receive marching orders regarding a product or service requirement and then go out there to get it at the best price. The cost savings was the metrics for measuring success. However, we now know that there is a strategic value in an organisation’s supply chain that has a direct impact on the bottom line beyond lowering costs. For example, socially responsible procurement practices, managing risk, facilitating innovation through supplier relationships are just a few of the variables by which procurement’s value is measured and quantified. As a CPO, you must be able to recognise these as well as emerging performance metrics to position yourself and your department for success.

5. Achieve savings without cost

For many procurement people, the term “savings without cost” can sound contradictory. In other words, and with the zero-sum you don’t get what you deserve you get what you negotiate mindset of the past, saving money always cost someone (usually the suppliers) something. Even though we talk about the importance of becoming relational and introducing new performance metrics, this does not mean that you lose sight of the need to achieve savings. What it means is that finding the balance between financial imperatives and relational necessity is an ability that will become increasingly valuable as the industry evolves.

83 per cent of organisations report that they have had trouble recruiting suitable candidates in the past 12 months.

Finding the right fit

We have all heard the saying about being “dressed up with no place to go.” As a CPO candidate, possessing the skills will not automatically connect you with the right employer.

You need to do your homework and determine with which organisations you are the best fit, and proactively utilise your relationships to open the right doors.

Iain McKenna. Managing Director. Sourcing Solved.

Sourcing Solved are an executive search procurement specialist based in Hove, UK.

If you would like to discuss your executive search requirements please get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.

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