Procurious asked Naseem for his views on what makes a candidate ideal for a CPO-level role.
Naseem, as a specialist in supply management executive search, what are the top attributes you look for in aspiring CPOs?
Based on the trends we’re seeing and what our clients have typically asked for, there are four stand-out attributes that we look for in a CPO-level candidate.
First, and foremost, they need to have a broad perspective. Companies are asking specifically for candidates from different industries to their own, as this brings about fresh, disruptive and innovative thinking.
Secondly, the candidate should be someone who can earn themselves a seat at the table with the CFO and CEO. They can do this by talking confidently about what they can bring to the business in terms of supply and market intelligence, data analytics, and leverage their own broad perspective. They should focus on the things that matter most to the C-Level — risk, compliance, and technological trends.
Operational know-how is also important, particularly change-management skills. Does the candidate have the emotional intelligence (EQ) to truly collaborate? Are they able to engage, influence, persuade and lead people in a global environment, including those that don’t report to them?
I’d like to add a fourth attribute here that ties the other three together, and that’s humility. Yes, you need to be able to talk confidently about your accomplishments, but this has to be balanced with humility and an awareness of your place in the corporate pecking-order. Humility will lead to credibility, which will pay off down the road.
You mentioned that you got into executive search because of your love of networking. Can you share any tips for effective networking?
Everyone now needs to have a social presence, and continually build upon that presence online. However, without some sort of face-to-face follow-up, your online connections can be specious. To truly leverage the power of your online network, you need to meet people face-to-face at conferences, make phone calls and gather referrals. Face-to-face networking will help you grow your online network, and vice-versa.
Another piece of advice is to embrace the concept of “pay it forward”. Always see if there’s something you can do to help people in your network — for example, see if there’s someone who you can connect them with to help solve a challenge they may be facing. Again, it will pay off in the long-term.
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