Eight essential skills CPOs want

8 May 2013

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8 May 2013 | Paul Snell

What are the two essential skills chief procurement officers look for when recruiting?

This was the question posed to a panel of US-based purchasing and supply leaders at the Institute for Supply Management annual conference. Aside from the technical skills – which the CPOs thought should be a given for any buyer wanting an interview – there was a variety of responses.

Deborah Beavin, CPO, Humana

Persistence and resilience: “We are in a period of constant change. You might have great skills and experience of driving procurement success, but at the same time can you work through resistance and do it professionally?”

The ability to teach and mentor others: “Can they take the skills and experience they would gain with Humana, and use those interactions to teach and mentor others around the procurement process?”

Eric Germa, CPO, ANN Inc

Entrepreneurs: “People who view themselves as change agents, and have a passion to go change things, to figure out new business opportunities, to step right in and help stakeholders.”

Problem solving: “Being able to take care of something that is an obstruction, and coming up with a solution. And the ability to help other people come up with a solution. I ask candidates, if they were in charge of their procurement organisation, what would they change? It really tells me how strategic people think.”

Tim Fiore, CPO, ThyssenKrupp North America

Commitment to the profession: “It doesn't mean they have to be from the profession. It could be through demonstrated experience, a statement they are excited about supply management and I understand what it means. I look for people who want to be in supply management.”

Interpersonal skills: “To sell what we have to offer. They need to be comfortable leading people who don’t report to them to a conclusion.”

Quentin Roach, CPO, Merck

Self-awareness: “Not just their intellectual capacity, but intellectual curiosity. Are they still willing to learn if they have a long history of performance and track record of success? I'm really trying to assess if that person has a good grounding of who they are. And something I call 'confident humility'. People who are confident themselves, but have a level of humility to understand they won't be successful without people around them.”

The ability to build and motivate teams: “The right communication, influencing skills to identify, recruit and retain talent.”

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