First impressions last, Ton Guerts, CPO of AkzoNobel, told attendees at the Procurement Leaders Forum in Chicago this morning. He was referring to the impression procurement executives get immediately upon meeting job candidates, and the audience at the panel discussion on increasing shareholder value agreed.
Guerts and other panelists said it’s essential for procurement professionals to be passionate and convince their colleagues of that passion. Additionally, they have to build trust and credibility internally and with suppliers to be most effective.
Important in that effort, said Hans Melotte, CPO of Johnson & Johnson, is the ability and willingness to speak the language of the business. Place a mediocre person in a role and you get mediocre results, he said. People have to feel they matter, Guerts said. He related a story about taking 35 high-potential staff on a ten-day training program that included a weekend of team-building activities. It’s part of nurturing staff, he said.
Kimberly Brown, vice president of worldwide procurement at Dell, agreed on the value of nurturing and added that once you hire passionate people you have to not only nurture them, but also challenge them and let them know they are high potential. She also said that to get innovation from the supply base, CPOs have to make sure there is something in nit for the suppliers. It must be a win/win, she said. And for metrics? "They shouldn’t be about quantity of new ideas, but perhaps about quality.
There’s a difference between tweaking and innovation." The panel agreed that nurturing suppliers is critical. They must be passionate too, said Melotte. One key to getting ideas from suppliers is simply to listen to them. Said Ashish Bharara, vice president of sourcing for home and hardlines at Walmart.
Paul Teague is US contributing editor of Procurement Leaders and was reporting from our 2012 Chicago Forum.