A Global Procurement Leader speaks: Talent is critical in Procurement Transformation

January 27, 2014

We were very excited to read an excellent piece of thought leadership that recently appeared in Procurement Leaders magazine. We felt it was so bang on that that we would make our own comment because of our close connection to the particular subject of Talent in Procurement & Supply Chain Management

This piece by Hugo Eckseler, a European Procurement expert who worked as CPO at Deutsche Post and Wella in Europe and is now in the Consulting field, is one of a series he’s writing about how to get buy-in for Procurement transformation across entire businesses.  This particular article speaks specifically to the talent and staffing issue within a procurement organization – which is right in our wheelhouse. Any time a leader in our field of focus speaks (Supply Chain, Procurement, Strategic Sourcing, Logistics, Distribution, Operations and Planning) on the subject of staffing and talent needs and change, we listen intently.

He says what many of us know: that modernizing a Procurement department for the 21st century – moving it from a transactional model to a strategic business function with buy-in from the larger company – requires a considerable change of mindset and approach. The first step, he says, is to assess which staff members at the managerial level are willing to support and champion the change in the business. After that, it’s a simple matter of replacing employees who are not on side with change . Mr. Eckseler makes an interesting and somewhat surprising point about the staffing changes that are often required to move the bar up. To quote him directly:

“Based on my own experience this may lead to a replacement of more than 50% of the management positions to establish a leadership team that is ‘pulling the cord’”. Wow, That’s a big statement.

50%!! We totally agree that for any business transformation to be successful, existing managers need to be onside and all oars need to be pulling in the same direction. And sometimes, that means jettisoning managers and procurement employees who are not. Still, it’s interesting that Mr. Eckseler often finds himself having to replace more than half of a team to affect change. It shows just how entrenched existing ways of doing business can be and how people often cannot be brought along.

Mr. Eckseler goes on to provide some important core competencies that modern Procurement leaders need to have to join one of his teams. Key standouts are:

  • Ability to collaborate and build relationships with cross-functional teams internal to the business, as well as with Suppliers from a diverse array of geographic and cultural backgrounds.
  • Negotiation skills and knowledge of the market are still bread and butter skills, but total cost of ownership all along product lifecycle, cost-structure analysis, and game theory have emerged as highly important skills in the field.
  • In his mind, Procurement professionals need to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset to identify and pursue new opportunities locally and abroad.

Any time a Procurement leader at the top of his or her game offers their priorities for the most important and in-demand skills in the field, we’re eager to listen. It’s catnip to us at Argentus because we want to stay on top of our clients’ talent priorities. And, it reinforces that we are right in our efforts to focus our expertise in this area of increasing talent demand.

Mr. Eckseler goes on to explain the training processes he puts in place to get buy-in from the company, and to make sure that the Procurement transformation is sustainable. He then sums up his post with an emphatic statement about talent in the Procurement space:

“No doubt, a systematic training and development is an investment in people that will cost money and time but experience from best-practice companies shows that it pays off at the end of the day. And so we’re back to the crucial understanding that underpins the process: people matter most.”

Yes people – or rather TALENT does matter most and they are indeed in great demand. We couldn’t agree more.

Check out the article here. It is very well worth reading.

So, Procurement professionals: Anything to add to Mr. Eckseler’s points? We encourage comment.

Over and out for now




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