CPO Crunch: Measure your success in succession

David Rae

It's never too early to think about who will follow in your footsteps

A couple of weeks ago I had a conversation with a CPO who, not long before, had handed in his resignation having secured a new role at different organisation. Naturally, he was looking forward to the challenge ahead.

After discussing how the new role might differ from his current post (less mature, new region, different culture…) talk turned naturally to who his successor might be.

On this subject, he was a little cagier – while he had been clear with his leadership team on who he thought it should be and had been priming that person for the role for some time, the company had decided to turn to an executive search firm.

The leadership team in question was, of course, completely within their rights to do so and, frankly, would be bordering on negligent if they decided not to explore the market. With such widespread disruption and change taking place, a fresh perspective can make a huge difference to the value created by such a strategic role as CPO.

But the point that I took from the conversation is that he had done the work required of him – as a senior executive stakeholder – to pinpoint and prepare someone to take over his role. Whether they take his advice or not is a moot point, and we’ll find out in the weeks to come.

Two other recent examples sprang to mind. In both situations the CPO had taken on a new role relatively recently and, in each case, they had prepared a successor over many months – even years. What was insightful to me was how visibly satisfied they both were when sharing that their proposed successor had secured the role.

In each case, the successor had been appointed ahead of suggestions made by executive search firms and so justifying and confirming the confidence, belief and judgement of the CPOs in question.

CPOs occupy a hugely important position, assuming responsibility for billions of dollars of spend and owning relationships with hundreds of strategic partners. Making sure the right person is in seat is a hugely important issue.

That’s why, as a CPO, one of your first considerations should be who will take over when you no longer want to be in role.

And it’s why when the person you have identified is endorsed, believed in and ultimately appointed by your former leadership team, you will be hugely satisfied.

So, to be truly successful, think now about your successor.

Benchmark against the best

Just two weeks remain before we close the survey for our ever-popular Strategic Planning Guide, which provides timely insight at a key time of the year.

As a reminder, last year’s report provided members with unique findings into:

  • The link between procurement influence and superior performance; teams with more spend under category management typically recorded improved ROI.
  • The continued shift towards specialised procurement roles; highlighting leaders’ plans to hire dedicated digital, ESG and risk management staff.
  • The value of centres of excellence; investing in a COE on average delivered slightly more savings but a much higher ROI figure.

Please take a few minutes to participate in the participate in the survey to help power the insights that will enable you to challenge and validate your plans for the coming year while providing the inspiration that may just spark your next great idea.

To receive weekly insights from the Procurement Leaders community, sign up to the CPO Crunch newsletter using the link at the top of this page.

Scroll to Top

Submit the form to find out more about membership