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The first 100 days can define a CPO and here François Roblin, recently appointed as CPO of Handicare Group, looks at the dos and don'ts in this critical phase and how to make the right impression after you walk through the door.
So you landed the CPO role of your dreams. You have been chosen among dozens, if not hundreds, of high-calibre applicants. You have read up on the company's history, researched the procurement team's pedigree and are thinking about how you can make a good first impression when you walk through that door for the first time.
The things you do in your first 100 days will set the tone, so what should you do or, importantly, not do?
Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva reportedly said that during his first days in office he did “the obvious”. I cannot agree more with him that the decisions you take should be about things everyone agrees are an issue. Common sense is our best weapon.
Is it a matter of survival?
Purchasing is a function with variable perimeters, power and expectations. Make sure you understanding your boss's top priorities (be it the CEO, the CFO or the COO).
Do the first 100 days really matter?
First impressions matter – people you meet should feel your self-confidence and you should certainly not be seen as someone without opinion. A purchasing elevator pitch tailored to the company's situation is useful.
Be consistent with what you perceived during your interviews
Unless you think you misunderstood the company's main issues around purchasing during the interview process, follow your instincts.
Re-read the notes you took. It will put what you perceive into perspective.
Show you understand the issues
Document each topic you talk about in meetings and give examples of solutions you have looked at yourself – it will give you credibility and help embed your thoughts into the mindset of the team and the company.
Network, network, network
Among the people you meet during your induction programme, most of them are friendly and eager to let you know about their experiences – they will feel honoured if you take the time to listen to them.
Talk to other CPOs outside the company. They will have faced a similar situation and will be able to offer sound advice.
Avoid the blame game
If you have been hired, it is usually to do things differently from your predecessor, but don't blame them for problems that have been passed on.
Distinguish between role-playing games and fool's games.Of course you do not want to be manipulated, but it happens. Be attentive to the balance of power.
Don't be in a hurry
Companies understand that you won't be up to speed on day one. Unless there is a revision of the company's five-year plan, do not set your plans in stone before the famous 100 days are up.
Cannot teach an old dog new tricks
Solutions that worked well in a previous role can be counterproductive and perceived as evidence you do not understand the company's history/values/rules.
Don't forget your team
The plan after your first 100 days is not only for the executive committee and the board – it is a great communication tool for your team which expects clear objectives from you.
François Roblin is CPO of Handicare Group. This article is an extract from the Talent section of Procurement Leaders magazine Issue 50.