The Faculty's Founding Chairman Tania Seary on why Procurement needs a hero.

Every sport, every profession, every person … needs a hero. 

It’s important that the procurement profession has role models. The Faculty does a lot of work developing talent through its capability development programs, tailored training, coaching and mentoring and the CPO Roundtable. We’ve developed the Procurement Executive Program in conjunction with Melbourne Business School and, of course, the renowned Future Leaders in Procurement (FLiP) forum. 

The young (and not-so-young) procurement professionals that come through our programs benefit hugely from having an inspirational figurehead to emulate; a CPO at the top of their game in our profession – and that’s where the CPO of the Year Award comes in. 

Let me tell you the truth – we only get up to a dozen nominations a year. We don’t publicise this because it doesn’t sound like much and to the outsider, diminishes the prestige of the award. But the reality is, this is an amazing number of nominations. There are probably only 100 true CPOs in Australia – senior enough procurement professionals in sizeable companies – that could warrant a title such as Chief Procurement Officer. 

So, if ten to fifteen per cent of that population are being nominated each year by their teams and peers for this award, then I think that is a great achievement. Why? Because in general, procurement professionals are very humble. They only agree to a nomination if pushed, and they only agree to participate in a “good” year. 

What do I mean by a “good” year? Well, you’re probably not going to agree to a nomination in a year when your team has been cut to shreds, or if you’ve just started in the role. Therefore, at best, I think a CPO would only have a “good” year once every 3–5 years. (Sort of paints a bleak prospect for the profession, doesn’t it!). 

So, I think the CPO of the Year Award gets an amazing nomination rate. 

When formulating the award, we listened carefully to the procurement community. We worked hard to make this award unbiased and far removed from the other work we do. We appoint an independent judging panel each year which has included business leaders such as Professor Ian Williamson, Director and Associate Dean, Melbourne Business School. The judging process includes three stages: 

Survey and data analysis (The Faculty team)

  • Quantitative data from a CPO and Manager survey is collected and analysed by The Faculty.
  • The top five nominees are shortlisted based on their managers’ overall scores. 

Interviewing and reporting (independent consultancy)

  • Interviews are conducted with shortlisted CPOs and (importantly) with their managers by an independent consultancy.
  • Detailed briefing reports are prepared for the judging panel which include all quantitative and qualitative survey data and additional insights gathered from these interviews. 

Independent judging panel

  • Members of an independent judging panel review briefing reports against the judging criteria and select the winner. 

Most importantly, the judging criteria is based on a very robust CPO assessment criteria developed by Dr Karen Morley, known as The X-Factor. 

The X-Factor criteria examines five major factors contributing to leading CPO performance, from functional excellence to people leadership, commercial leadership to leadership attributes and, finally, impact. 

And really, the proof is in the pudding. Look at the talent that has been recognised by this robust process. Last year’s winner Johanne Rossi led a transformation program of Caltex's entire procurement function, leading to a saving of more than $100 million. 2015 winner Richard Allen made one of the region’s top CPO roles look easy, confidently overseeing a procurement spend in excess of $12 billion at Telstra. 2014 winner Visna Lampasi won the award while CPO for Leighton Contractors but soon stepped into another of Australia’s premier CPO roles at Woolworths. We’re extremely fortunate to have 2013 CPO of the Year Keith Bird as Managing Director of The Faculty, who won the award after a very good year indeed at Queensland Rail, while 2012 winner and inaugural CPO of the Year Sharyn Scriven continues her stellar career at Energex.  

I’m really looking forward to the announcement of this year’s winner at the 2017 CPO Forum Gala Dinner. Fingers crossed!

Read more about the CPO of the Year award. 

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