All Hard Work and No Networking Equals Incomplete Career

All the hard work in the world won’t compensate for a lack of networking skills. It’s your network that’s going to take you to the top.


Johanne Rossi, CPO at Caltex, and The Faculty’s ‘CPO of the Year’ for 2016, asserts the importance of procurement professionals honing their networking skills as a career-boosting priority.

She also discusses her approach to motivating and retaining employees, lists the key skills procurement professionals require and explains why the perception of procurement as an “un-sexy” profession is responsible for the talent gap.

1. What were your first 3 jobs?

  • Management Consultant with Accenture in France, UK and the USA
  • Head of eSourcing with CPGmarket (consortium between Nestle, Danone and SAP)  in Germany and Switzerland
  • Supply Chain Lead with Nestle in Australia and South Africa

2. What’s one thing you know now, that you wish you’d known at the start of your career?

One thing? There are so many things I wish I knew about myself, about others and about the corporate world. The ride would have been so much smoother and quicker!

One thing that really stands out for me is the realisation that working very hard is only going to get you so far. Networking and influencing is the true currency for career success.

3. How can CPOs attract and retain millennials?

Millennials or not, my main focus is people. Most of the people I work with are millennials anyway!

I try to work with the following ideals in mind:

  • Inspire people to come to work and have fun.
  • Care about people: listen to who they are and let them focus on what they love, are good at or have an interest in.
  • Embrace and share with employees the fact that I am vulnerable and a bit crazy.
  • Share with my employees my vision, which has to be ambitious, aligned to the corporate vision and make them proud to be part of the team.
  • Recognise accomplishments and praise people in front of others.
  • Develop people and keep them excited.
  • Don’t tolerate poor performance.
  • Don’t treat everyone equally, encourage and recognise the top performers.
  • Focus on people and relationships, not process and rules.

4. Does the procurement talent gap exist? Or is it just a perception problem?

The gap may lie in the fact that Procurement is not yet viewed as the sexy profession it actually is, and as such the most talented people are not coming to us in spades.

Having said that, things are changing. More and more incredibly well-rounded and brilliant people are joining the Procurement ranks. This is super exciting to watch!

Procurement is an amazing way to solve business issues, get leadership visibility and learn new skills while making a difference to organisations.

5. What’s more important for your hires – attitude or aptitude?

Definitely mindset. We need people with a growth mindset, who “embrace challenges, persist in the face of setbacks, see effort as the path to mastery, learn from criticism and find lessons and inspiration in the success of others”[1].

6. What key skills are critical for procurement in the next 5 years?

I feel procurement professionals need to be well-rounded with the following competencies:

  • Influencing and communicating well.
  • Facilitating and working cross-functionally.
  • Seeking results and being accountable.
  • Building relationships.
  • Solving problems and thinking strategically.
  • Managing total value chain costs, being analytical and understanding risks.
  • Being humble, innovative and ethical.
  • Being agile and handling complexity and ambiguity.

[1] Source: Taken from Carol Dweck, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

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