Tag Archives: chief procurement officer

Best of the Blog: Beware The Scary Old Word CPO

Is your career in the grips of a scary, old-world CPO? How do you recognise if your boss is one, and what can you do about it?

Everyone loves a good throwback article, which is why we’re hopping in our time machine to bring you back some of the biggest and best Procurious blogs. If you missed any of the golden oldies, look no further!

This week, we’re revisiting Tania Seary’s top advice on how to avoid the scary old world CPO!

Beware the Jabberwock, my son!

The jaws that bite, the claws that catch! 

– Lewis Carroll, 1871

You’ll know a scary, old-world CPO when you see one.I had almost forgotten about them until I found myself in a meeting with one last week. Somehow in recent times I have escaped the horror of hearing such old-world, closed network thinking like:

  • “I don’t want my team on social media, someone may poach them”
  • “We’re too busy working to be looking at what’s happening in the rest of the world”
  • “We know our business best”
  • “What if my team spends all day on social media?”

To the team at Procurious, these comments are like blasphemy. We’re on a mission to change the face of procurement, and give the images associated with the profession a makeover. We want to replace the old brown cardigan-clad stereotype, with fresh images of procurement as the “smartest guys in the room”.My meeting with this archetypal nemesis reminded me of all the reasons why we founded Procurious. It gave me increased motivation to continue our mission, and gave rise to an overwhelming urge to protect all the amazing rising stars in procurement from the soul-crushing dictatorship of a scary, old-world CPO.

The Old-World CPO

Let’s face it, if your personal characteristics and actions portray an image that you’re living in the past, the chances are good you are. People don’t leave companies, they leave bosses.As such, we want to reward the great bosses, those leading by example, keeping their teams energised, investing in individuals’ careers, and continuously pushing procurement to excel.What are the tell-tale signs of a scary, old-world CPO? The next time you’re going for an interview, or looking at your current boss, don’t fall for the flashy suit, big title, or even the big brand name they represent.If the person opposite you falls into one of these categories, the chances are your career development will come to a screeching halt under such a draconian regime.  

The (Digitally) Invisible Man…or Woman

Check whether this CPO has any sort of online presence. Tell-tale signs of invisibility include profiles with no photos, or inappropriate photos, scant, or no, information, and no visible mentions in a Google search.There may have been a freak internet-cleansing event, wiping out all references to this person, but the reality is that they probably haven’t spoken at any events, written anything interesting, taken the time or effort to understand social media, or understand the fact that you will be researching them online.Also, beware those CPOs who have fewer than 500 connections in their network. Some CPOs do make the case of quality vs quantity. But, if you’re working in a large company, have a large team, and work with an extensive supply base, shouldn’t 500 quality connections be expected?You (and the majority of your peers) want to work for someone who is an influencer. You want a leader with a wide range of connection they can introduce you to, and broaden your horizons. Working with someone with a limited network can be a road to nowhere for your career prospects.

Robinson Crusoe – the Loner 

This CPO really is an island.They don’t believe in networking, collaborating, or outside knowledge flow, and believe information is for their own personal advantage to build their power base. The Robinson Crusoe profile can physically manifest itself as an executive sitting in a corner by themselves, with their back to the team.This information block exists not only within their psyche, but extends to the procurement team itself. This old-world CPO has particularly old-world views, and creates a knowledge hierarchy, where they take all the great (and politically advantageous) ideas as their own.Another problem with this approach is that it encourages working in a closed network as part of the norm. These scary old world CPOs end up staying in the same profession, peer group, company, or industry, invariably associating with people they already know. This peer group continues to reinforce their outdated approach to management, and their thinking is never challenged.The new world CPO is collaborative, a “true influencer” and shares their knowledge freely and widely.My view is that a CPO’s main job is to not only drive change and innovation (and make a couple of deals on the side), but to give their team the opportunity to access tools and discuss ideas with other professionals, thought leaders and experts from around the globe.Yet I still see CPOs encouraging teams to work in isolation, unaware that there is whole universe of knowledge to help them grow and excel in their jobs.

The Devil Wears Prada – The Career Crusher

Their desk calendar reads 2016, but their attitude towards employees is stuck in the 1950s.Yes, your boss should have an overall plan for how their team is delivering against the overall business strategy. But they should also have a plan for you – both for what you need to deliver, and how you need to develop in the future.They should be committed to diversity and promoting young talent, to making sure their team reflects this commitment and is generating opportunities for the next generation of talent.The best CPOs are obsessed with finding the best people and helping them develop. They send their people out to be trained in the skills they need, expose them to new opportunities, and build peer networks that will develop leadership skills.The worst CPOs keep their category managers locked away from the rest of the world in fear that their people will be poached. A great CPO doesn’t need to worry about this. They know that they have developed a great employee value proposition that keeps their team engaged and retained.

Reverse Mentoring

Let’s not be too hard on these talented Heads of Procurement. They can’t all be cut from the same cloth.Why not get on the front foot and try and initiate some reverse mentoring. With a few polite, and well-placed pointers, I am sure you could help turn your scary, old-world CPO into a procurement rock star.Sharing your skills and knowledge could help your CPO become increasingly tech savvy and an advocate for technology, including social media, for procurement. And just in case you need some more points, you can find a 5-point checklist on being a great procurement boss right here.We look forward to seeing you both on Procurious soon!

Does Your CPO Have Big Ideas?

Is your Boss a Perfect Fit for the Big Ideas Summit 2016? Nominate your CPO to attend this unique event.

Big Ideas CPO

At Procurious we know people don’t leave companies, they leave bosses. So we want to reward great bosses – procurement leaders who are leading by example, keeping their teams energised, investing in individuals’ careers, and continuously pushing procurement to excel.

On April 21st in London, Procurious will connect 50 top executives, thought leaders and CPOs, with its 12,000+ worldwide members to forge new ground by solving the thorny issues in, and harnessing new opportunities for, the procurement profession.

Only 5 places remain in our London audience. And here’s how you can help your CPO attend

Nominate your CPO

As we’ve said, there are only 5 places left, but we’re giving the Procurious community the chance to help fill them. You’ve already read plenty about the Big Ideas Summit, found out how to get involved as a Digital Delegate, and get involved by submitting your own Big Ideas.

What we’re offering here is the chance for your CPO to attend the event in London in person, rubbing shoulders with representatives of some of the world’s biggest organisations, such as Facebook, the World Bank, the BBC, and AstraZeneca.

The nomination process couldn’t be any easier either. All you need to do is fill in a short form with your and your CPO’s details, telling us why you think they are deserving of a place in the Big Ideas delegation.

Is Your CPO a Perfect Fit?

So, how do you know that your CPO is the right person. Well, picture them and think about the following points. These attributed are what we are looking for in our CPOs who are attending Big Ideas:

  • Progressive – your CPO is ‘on trend’ and always up to date with the latest key themes and issues in procurement.
  • True Influencer – your CPO shares their knowledge freely and widely, has had something they have written published and shared, or has a particular area of expertise. This could be within your organisation or the broader profession.
  • Big Thinker/Creative – your CPO is creative and likes looking at the bigger picture. But they’re also open to other people’s big ideas too.
  • Wants to expose his/her team to opportunity – your CPO wants to give their team the chance to access thought leadership from some global experts.
  • Tech savvy – this is a digitally-led conference, so we want our attendees to be advocates for technology, including social media, for procurement.
  • Committed to diversity and promoting young talent – makes sure that their team reflects diversity and is full of opportunities for the next generation of talent.
  • And, of course, an Awesome Procurement Boss – and because you want to reward them for being awesome!

How to Nominate

If your CPO meets most, or all, of the above attributes, then nominate them now!

To be eligible to attend, your CPO needs to be in London, in person, on April 21st. Procurious will be extending the invitation, but the cost of the ticket and travel is down to them.

To nominate your CPO, simply click here, tell us your CPO’s details, and why you think they should be at Big Ideas. Let us know your details too, so we can get in touch if we need to.

Nominations close on Tuesday the 29th of March, with CPOs contacted following this date.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Want to know more about Big Ideas 2016? Then visit www.bigideassummit.com, join our Procurious group, and Tweet your thoughts and Big Ideas to us using #BigIdeas2016.

Don’t miss out on this truly excellent event and the chance to participate in discussions that will shape the future of the procurement profession. Get Involved, register today.