'Don't be a paper pusher if you want to get to the top'

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
30 July 2014

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31 July 2014 | Will Green in Lusaka

Buyers have been told not to be “paper pushers” but to think strategically if they want to get to board level.

Douglas Boateng, CEO of the PanAvest Partnership, said buyers needed to be “directors, not managers” if they wanted to be taken seriously at senior levels.

Boateng, speaking at the CIPS Pan African Conference in Zambia, told delegates he had carried out research between 2009 and 2013 into the attitudes of senior executives at large and medium-sized firms across Africa, Europe and the Americas toward the profession.

A third of executives in 2013 considered procurement to be critical to bottom line performance, up from around a fifth in 2009, but the role most respondents considered would be standard in the board room within a decade, which was not currently, was that of “chief supply chain management officer”.

Boateng said the job title of CPO was associated with management, whereas the role of chief supply chain management officer was considered to include many functions such as procurement, logistics, operations and new products.

“The title of CPO did a lot of damage to our profession. They thought of us as paper pushers so they didn’t admit us to the board room,” he said.

Boateng said getting board level recognition was important because the function had a vital role to play in development, in terms of the social and economic impact of buying decisions.

“We have got to rise to the challenge,” he said. “Without supply chain management there will be no industrialisation.”

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