Noble pledges to take CIPS forward

5 July 2009

6 July 2009 | Rebecca Ellinor

CIPS will be "refocused" to become a more commercial organisation which will extend its help to members beyond education and qualifications, said David Noble, the new chief executive.

In his first interview since joining the institute on 1 June, he told SM that he wants CPOs in the private and public sector to make CIPS their "first port of call".

"There are far too many private and public sector organisations headed by procurement people who aren't members of the institute.

I have to address that by offering propositions that will tackle their concerns."

Noble is the first procurement professional to take the top post for more than 20 years and he believes this will be a great advantage. Four years ago, when he was two days into his former post of CPO at FTSE200 manufacturing company IMI, Noble contacted CIPS for "guidance and support in discrete areas" but it couldn't be provided.

"The institute is brilliant at standards, education and qualifications. It is second to none and I won't be doing anything to damage that," he said. "But I've been a practitioner for 30 years and with the past 10 spent reporting to chief executives, I believe I know what is required.

"I want to get away from the institute being seen as a standard and that's all. It's about giving our members the tools, techniques and ability to succeed in their role, whatever level they're at, and we need to do more of that."

Noble has already reorganised CIPS departments to make them more customer- facing. Changes include the appointment of directors for customer solutions, customer fulfilment and corporate services.

In future, he said, CIPS will offer solutions (rather than standard products alone) that can be customised to meet the needs of individual organisations.

"There's never been a better time to be in this profession," he said. "Chief executives are looking to procurement to ensure they maintain and grow their businesses. In this economic environment growth is not going to come from marketing and sales, but from how well you manage your resources.

"And it's not just about saving money, it's continuity of supply, standards, value management, make v buy decisions - upstream procurement areas that address key strategic needs. That's where procurement needs to be and we will help it achieve that."

He wants to enhance the tools and services provided for the UK membership while also ensuring the global community feels more engaged "in what is an international institute". He added that he has not forgotten the institute's charter and has promoted head of governance Margaret West-Burnham to sit on the executive committee.

Profile is another area Noble will address: "The profession has to be better at PR. We don't sell ourselves well." This will begin with Noble conducting interviews on the Purchasing Managers' Index (PMIs) - monthly indicators of activity in manufacturing, services and construction. "These are seen by the Bank of England as a key economic indicator and they are driven by our members."

And he believes CIPS must be the point of reference for comment on any major supply chain event. He will write a weekly blog and produce regular podcasts, the first of which is already live on

In his first month as CEO he has met M&S boss Sir Stuart Rose and Dame Helen Ghosh, permanent secretary at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. He said both were "hugely interested" in the role of the institute in their organisations.

Noble described the CIPS brand as "strong and unique", and admits with so many parties sharing their views on its future "the only certainty is at some point someone will not agree with what I've done". He concluded: "I'm hugely honoured and excited to have this opportunity. The institute has a role to play at a crucial time for procurement and supply."

Calderbridge, Seascale
£52,518 - £64,233
London (Central), London (Greater)
£60k-£70k p.a. + Bonus (0-10%) + Pension (5%)
GPA Procurement
CIPS Knowledge
Find out more with CIPS Knowledge:
  • best practice insights
  • guidance
  • tools and templates