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How to become a chief procurement officer (CPO)

Written by: CIPS Procurement & Supply Jobs
Published on: 14 Nov 2019

Chief procurement officer (CPO) is an important role in any business and integral to the smooth running of the procurement team. For many in the profession, it is the pinnacle of their ambition to become CPO, so we take a look at what you need to do to get there.

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Of course, to become a CPO, you will need a breadth of experience in business and procurement practises as well as key skills such as negotiation, problem-solving, analytical thinking and a strategic mindset. However, leadership and the ability to be agile are also important when it comes to being a successful CPO.

Aside from the skills you need to reach this level, there are some clear career moves that could make the difference in your climb to the top and ensure success once you’re there. Here are our top tips.

Our top tips on how to become a chief procurement officer

1. Gain experience across the business

Something that was raised consistently by CIPS UK Conference 2019’s speakers was the need to experience other areas of the business to become a more rounded and successful procurement professional. Whether you delve into commercial, finance or operations roles, wider experience of how a business operates will help in your transition to chief procurement officer and an integral member of senior leadership.

2. Expand your horizons

More and more organisations are recognising the value of individuals who have explored different industries and sectors during their career. Rather than staying in one direction, moving between public sector and private sector or one industry to another will help you to garner a wealth of knowledge on systems, processes and best practises that you can draw on to add value to your organisation.

3. Get qualified

Whilst it is not a prerequisite to becoming a CPO, having a relevant qualification can vastly help you in your career. The CIPS/Hays Procurement Salary Guide and Insights 2019 found that 66% of UK recruiters state a preference for MCIPS candidates and that bonuses for FCIPS considerably out-weighed their counterparts seeing a 21.3% increase in the last year. Therefore, a CIPS qualification can improve your chances of progression and financial reward. 

The qualification itself also gives you the key skills and competencies to succeed in your career, find out more about the available levels and study options here.

4. Listen, learn and repeat

As always, as you move through your career, it’s integral to listen and learn at all stages. Take what you can from every conversation, learn from every mistake and continue to do so once you’ve reached chief procurement officer level. This will make you a better leader.

Find your next role

If you are looking for the next step in your career, whether into a CPO role or other, make sure you search for vacancies with CIPS Procurement & Supply Jobs.

We are the official job board of CIPS. Our long-standing reputation within the industry as a trusted source of procurement and supply management knowledge, insights and opinion makes us the top specialist job board for the profession. We can place you in the best position to find your next job.

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