Master Your Craft – How to Step Into The Shoes of a CPO

Want to climb the procurement career ladder to the very top? If you want to be a successful CPO, you need to learn from the best.

ISM is focused on helping you reach your career goals. As the CEO of Institute for Supply Management, I am in daily communication with CPOs who work in a variety of industries.

Because of this, I understand what it takes to be successful in that position. While each individual has a unique and valuable skill set, there are common threads of what has made it possible for them to thrive in their roles.

I want to share what, in my opinion, are key factors to help you on the path to CPO.

1. Master Your Craft

Whether it’s being an expert at preparing a category plan, cost analysis, a total cost of ownership analysis, what you do has an impact on your organisation’s bottom-line. When your leader needs someone to get the job done you need to be the go-to person.

As you become a master of your craft you are able to free up more bandwidth which will allow you to take on new – possibly more strategic – opportunities.

2. Deliver Reliable Results

Outcomes matter in business. We need to be able to establish a track record, consistently follow through, and be relied upon to deliver. That ability to be seen as someone who can deliver, builds your professional reputation and makes you an invaluable member of a team.

Particularly in our field this often relates to being able to hit cost reduction targets while possessing a keen understanding of where risk resides.

3. Know the Whole Business

Today about 80 per cent of spend in a company is external, and 80 per cent of that is managed by the CPO. The entire business is sitting on this cost structure, which the CPO is ultimately responsible for.

Clearly, we impact the whole business – we must understand it.

In addition, we need to understand how what we are sourcing meets the demands of our end customer. I might be sourcing a basic commodity, like a resin. That resin could be a critical component of a product that drives 30 percent of our company’s revenue.

The company’s success relies on my ability to source that commodity.

4. Model Your Behaviour

You have an extraordinary opportunity at an early age to represent the company to external third parties. It’s common for young professionals to sit down with the CEO of a supplier to work out the next contract.

Be conscious of this and take this incredible opportunity to learn from people who are seasoned in the profession.  Watch how they handle a negotiation, diffuse a conflict, or how they turn your point around to their favour.

Witness this and then model your behaviour based on how other, more experienced professionals, handle these situations.

5. Find a Mentor

Look for someone in your firm or where you previously worked or both. A mentor will be available to ask questions about new assignments, unforeseen challenges, and offer career advice.

Finding someone who is not your supervisor allows you to ask these types of questions in a pressure free environment. Developing these types of relationships will become your professional network and increase exponentially in value throughout your career.

Listen to Tom Derry’s Career Boot Camp podcast here.

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