This Week in Procurement

TWIP: Mirror, Mirror…

This week’s contribution to the procurement conversation is a bit of a head scratcher for me, if I am to be honest.

Why is it that there are not a lot of examples of CPOs becoming CEO (there seem to more stories of transitions to COO). Of course, there are Tim Cook and Jeff Williams, both of Apple, who are CEO and COO, respectively. After them, I couldn’t immediately recall another case. Then I remembered Marco Gonçalves, who made the move from CPO at Nestle to CEO of Ferro Hazelnut Company. (Marco recently spoke to CIPS’s Switzerland branch and shared what he sees as the keys to his success.)

It’s seems common knowledge that there aren’t many who make the transition.  What I don’t know is if this is based on desire, or perceived lack of capability / some negative assessment regarding the procurement function (and what it takes to be successful in it). We will find a lot of COO’s – or at least a lot more – COO’s with procurement backgrounds as the COO is seen as more of an operational role vs. a strategic one.

In simple terms, what is it about having a procurement past that seems to constrain either the actual movement to other C-Suite positions or the lack of collective sharing of these type of events? This is the part that has me stumped.

Dear Catalysts, I know I am missing some obvious precedents, so I welcome any examples you can share of others with a significant procurement background who have transitioned to CEO or to another C-Suite position. Please send your examples here.

As is often the case, I tend to work these questions out here or in preparation for an AOP interview. Today I am doing both. Stay tuned as I will be posting soon an interview with a CPO who recently added company wide transformation responsibilities to his portfolio.

Making Choices

Like most impactful things, I suppose it comes down to a choice: do we see ourselves as procurement professionals or as business leaders, value creators?

This is a subject well aired in these newsletters and AOP podcasts, so I will commend you to some of our past numbers to provoke some thinking on the subject. Here are a few pieces from our archive to help stir the pot a bit: 086: How to Increase Your Value to the CFO…, 066: Where to Look to Generate Procurement Driven Value…, How to Get to 100% Value Creation, Seven Values For Success And Innovation In Procurement Organizations, You Can’t Get There from Here, Summing it Up and Moving it Forward

Leaving a Mark

For all the examples I did come up with, besides a strong procurement background, all have a number of things in common, including:

  • all see it as a professional responsibility to affect change (some even use one of our favorite terms, “catalyst”)
  • all advocate for acquiring working knowledge across business functions. This goes well beyond interactions for the purpose of building an RFP or facilitating supplier presentations or presenting strategies. What they are after is working to understand a stakeholders’ businesses as well as the stakeholder understands it; particularly, looking to understand the stakeholders’ challenges.

Generating Fulfillment

Some questions to ponder:

  • Am I making efforts to spend time with my stakeholders outside of particular projects?
  • As I think about my career, am I happy doing what I am doing? Can I see doing this for the next 5 years, 10 years…?
  • Am I capable of assuming a new role and performing at the necessary level?  If not, what do I need to do to “level up”?
  • For another opportunity, am I prepared to give up a role that I am good at and in which I enjoy the respect of my peers?
  • Am I comfortable taking on something that could expose my flaws or inexperience?

Being a Catalyst

As always, if you come across an article, whitepaper, video or podcast that you would like to share with your fellow catalysts, please send a quick email with the details. I read every email and am eager to read yours.

This Week in Procurement

This Week @ AOP

My guest on the show this week is Brian Bancroft, CPO at Church & Dwight. This is Brian’s second appearance on the show. We originally sat down back in episode 126, and I enjoyed the conversation so much that I have been eager to find an opportunity for us to record another pod.

Brian has a wealth of experience across, and outside of the procurement function, and has enjoyed roles including as Senior Director for Indirect Procurement and Shared Services, and then CPO of Asia Pacific and Africa regions for Kellogg’s, and most recently the VP of North America Indirect Procurement, and then Direct Procurement for The Coca-Cola Company.

Since we last talked, Brian made the move to Church & Dwight, embarking on another procurement transformation journey.  And it is procurement transformations that are the subject of our conversation, where I ask Brian to share his learnings from executing a number of transformations around the world.  You can listen in to our conversation, here.

BTW, Brian is also hiring across a number of procurement roles.  If you have interest in playing a leading role in the procurement transformation at Church & Dwight, check out his open roles, here.

About the author

Philip Ideson

Philip Ideson is passionate about the role that procurement professionals and leaders can plan in creating competitive advantage for their organizations in ways that go beyond the traditional value proposition.

Philip founded Art of Procurement as a way for the procurement community to learn from each other, increasing the impact they have on their organizations. In 2017, he co-founded Palambridge, a virtual platform of procurement experts, technology, and intelligence. Palambridge provides a broad range of flexible procurement solutions, available on-demand.

Prior to Art of Procurement and Palambridge, Philip enjoyed a career that spanned the procurement value chain, working across three continents for organizations such as Accenture, Procurian, Ally Financial, Pfizer and Ford Motor Company.