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Written by David Lyon

Procurement – As a CPO, your people are your greatest asset..and your greatest headache!

In several recent surveys of CPO’s globally, the overwhelming message is that CPO’s are concerned about the availability of talent in the procurement sector.

From skilled buyers to category managers, procurement analysts and business partners –  CFO’s/CEO’s and CPO’s recognize the value in having capable, strong and embedded procurement teams that are able to hunt down the cost efficiencies that will:

  • Add profit to the bottom line
  • Keep the innovations from the supply base flowing
  • Recognize and plan for supply chain risks


  • Provide a commercial mindset to stakeholders across the organisation.

They recognize that the benefit of a well-constructed RFP…. a supplier workshop… a quality remediation program and a well thought through plan to deal with un-expected events, can save $ millions in profitability and avoid unplanned additional costs.

I would argue that in no other function do you get the cross-leadership support from every department in a company.

But, generally the further down the organisation you get, the more the perception is:

Oh, Procurement ! – Those are the guys that slow us down, only care about cost and just ….get in the way !”

So, why the disconnect?  And what can CPO’s do?

Well, sad to say that there are still some procurement departments that have not managed to communicate effectively what they do and why.  And it is not for a lack of trying!…. however good we are as procurement, we are probably less good (as a function) at selling our value and our strategic impact…….to our teams, our stakeholders and to new talent trying to select a career.

Those that do get the messaging right, find that they retain staff that are motivated, …customers call procurement into the room early…  and procurement has a reputation that allows people like Martin Chown at Sellafield Ltd (the UK Nuclear Power Generation company) to step up from CPO to CEO.

What can you do…. ?

Get every single member of your team to go through the Procurement Academy course BP1001 –  Selling Procurement Value as a Business Partner. Bring your team together with a single unified message, brand proposition and provide them with a common elevator pitch about what we do.

The power of the Skill Dynamics is that we bring teams together around a simple learning set that can shape the way your teams feel about themselves.  That rubs off onto their stakeholders and they become a single, unified voice of competence.

Skill Dynamics learners, receive world class learning in a way that is proven to embed the knowledge by making simplicity out of complexity.   Your teams can be spread across the globe, but they all receive the same key messages in the same way… Not just those that can travel or have the time to do classroom learning…. And they can learn at their own pace, growing their knowledge and skills as fast as their ambition desires.

David is a CPO with experience across multiple industry sectors. Having started his career in textiles and retail, he has since had senior roles in the Electronics, Pharmaceutical and Financial sectors, including Global Head of Corporate Procurement for Pharmaceuticals at Novartis Pharma AG. David led the Cancer Research team that won the 2015 Procurement Leaders award for Transformation and has since delivered "Transformation of procurement" in several well-known multinationals. David is a multilingual professional with over 25 years of Procurement and Supply Chain experience.

David Lyon

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