Intriguingly, there is a sharp disconnect between the qualities procurement leaders believe are most important to their role, and the attributes seen by CEOs as most important in senior procurement professionals.
A survey of more than 250 CPOs found that their three most important attributes were:
- Emotionally intelligent
- Creative & Problem Solver
Ask a CEO, however, and they will tend to look at procurement as purely an operational area – and want a results-driven leader in the field. Indeed, some businesses regard procurement as an overhead, rather than an investment.
In fact, the Chief Procurement Officer in an organisation should be a key adviser in transformation and change. While it is always desirable to deliver savings, there should be a much wider scope to bring benefits to the business – such as looking at the way things are done and the way they should be done.
David gave a compelling example of a situation when he was asked to support an IT outsourcing deal that, as currently constructed, would not be a viable business case. By analysing and applying a different approach through critical thinking skills and behavioural science, he turned the business case around by £3 million in the space of eight weeks and the contract is being drafted as we speak!
Critical thinking is a strategic procurement skill – a good operator in the practice can make a significant contribution to the direction of an organisation.
However, the onus is on the business too. If a procurement leader is restricted purely to a transactional role, they will have no opportunity to grow and bring creative solutions to the table.