Simon Geale

28 June 2023
Topics in this article
  • Capability & Skills
  • People

The combined effect of global supply chain shocks, the COVID-19 Pandemic, geopolitical crises, and major advancements in technology have irreversibly altered the role of the procurement leader. Now more than ever, the position demands an agile and adaptive approach to remain successful.

We sat down with 15 of the leading minds in procurement, including leaders from the Walgreens Boots Alliance, Tyson Foods, and Google, to hear their views on the evolution of the role and how to remain successful. This is essential reading for anyone in procurement looking at the road ahead in their career. Here are some of the key takeaways.

Create a wider business perspective

Procurement’s role is evolving, and it is critical that the procurement leaders of the future understand how this is forcing the expansion of what once was a narrow perspective. As the demands of the role merge into various other aspects of business, adopting a holistic business point-of-view will enable leaders to identify critical connections between procurement and other business functions. This comprehensive understanding of how the procurement function interacts with the wider business results in effective and efficient decision-making. Not only does this broadened perspective benefit the organization, but it also benefits the individual, providing a deeper sense of self-awareness and how the role contributes to business objectives.

Though a business view is key, it’s also important to broaden perspectives within the procurement function itself. Gone are the days when cost is the sole focus of the CPO. The world around us is changing, from environmental shifts to technological innovations. It’s time to start thinking about innovation, sustainability, and social value, in addition to cost, and look to integrate these aspects into every stage of the decision-making process.

Build trust and your profile, both inside your own business and network outside

The procurement leaders of tomorrow will be critical partners for other members of the executive team. Adopting a business-first perspective is the first step to earning this position, but to establish yourself as a delivery partner, it’s imperative that you invest in building trust and credibility. Doing so is a vital element in demonstrating the procurement function’s value to both internal and external stakeholders and reveals the impact that you and your team can deliver.

To become a successful business leader, it is no longer enough to simply deliver good results. Executives of the future must avoid complacency and constantly strive to develop themselves professionally through internal and external networks. The range for development is endless, from smaller skills training to more recognized qualifications such as MCIPS or ISM. Great leaders recognize the power of these learning opportunities, regardless of their size. This broad exposure to different skills and practices is what separates the good from the great, and any future CPO should look to test their knowledge and skillsets continuously.

Focus on People – how to build and empower your team

People will always be the CPO’s greatest asset, and devoting time and energy towards the development of your team is truly what creates that competitive advantage. The procurement leaders of tomorrow must cultivate a collaborative and cognitively diverse environment, one that encourages personal development and dynamic thinking. Lead by example and ensure that you are being a leader that people want to follow, not just one they have to.

The CPOs of the future should be compelled to prioritize nurturing the talent of their team and not lose sight of the human element of business, as a flourishing team is a key component of delivering successful results.

The advice shared by these procurement leaders highlights that the key focus areas for the CPOs of the future are hardly restricted to procurement itself. As the CPO role continues to evolve, it’s critical that today’s leaders continue to impart their learnings and skills to the leaders of the future, ensuring the role of the CPO is future-proofed for years to come.

Read our Tomorrow’s CPO report to learn more about the key focus areas for the leaders of the future.

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