Have You Got What It Takes To Be The Next Chief Supply Officer?

Written by EO Executives on Feb 25, 2015

I’m sure you are a fantastic Supply Chain Manager. You may have lead teams, saved companies millions of pounds, implemented world-class efficiency and ensured the organisation follows best practice… but do you have the qualities and the right experience to get to the next level?

The strategic importance of competing Supply Chains is resulting in the increased demand for Chief Supply Chain Officers at board level, and over the last decade I have worked with a number of organisations from SMEs to FTSE 100 companies wanting to hire supply chain business leaders to help transform their companies.

It’s not always easy to make the step up though. I’ve seen very capable managers who struggled to adapt to the increased expectations people in leadership positions have on their shoulders.

Managerial roles are often tactical rather than strategic. As a manager you are required to develop plans, allocate resources, organise teams and prevent catastrophe, whereas as a leader you are required to implement strategy, give direction and ensure the supply chain goals are aligned with the business’s needs. 

With that in mind, there are a number of common skill sets that I see boards and CEOs demanding when they are looking for their next Chief Supply Officer.

So what are the capabilities you will need?

Broad Business Acumen:

You will be working within the higher echelons of the corporate structure so you will need to engage with supply chain stakeholders in a more holistic way. Communicating with your peers in the C-suite on the overall subjects of the business requires broad expertise and acumen to ensure that you are adding valuable input to the business as a whole.

Spending time seconded to projects of other departments prior to entering the C Suite will prove hugely beneficial in this regard as will personal development in non-technical competencies.

Strategic Thinking and Foresight: 

You will need to create and develop strategies that receive board approval and align neatly with the companies strategies for cash flow, expansion and acquisition activities. In Supply Chain we also need foresight to be able to strategically predict and negate risks and hurdles in the business operations – this is where a CSO can be seen as a hugely important asset in the boardroom.

Planning and Execution: 

The road map for the supply chain activities of the company will have to be clearly defined and well-structured and you will have to demonstrate what you expect to be able to deliver in return for the resource and budget that you oversee. 

The best CSO’s drive a culture of execution and disciplined implementation – there are no excuses once you are at the top table and are accountable. 

Heightened Communication:

Above all as a CSO you have to be able to translate your plans and strategies to your peers, team and suppliers.  The modern CSO is an expert communicator who can influence everyone from a CEO to a Warehouse Operative and gain their support on the big Supply Chain initiatives. 

So those are the 4 big themes I see boards and CEOs looking for when making a supply chain hire. If you are looking to make the step up to CSO, ask yourself whether you have the capabilities, skills and experiences required to apply for that promotion? If not what can you do now within your organisation to build and develop these capabilities to ensure that your career is set on the fast track?

Have a plan and start working on the above today.  If you need advice then I am happy to help. 

What Next?

We are seeing more and more that companies are wanting to match candidates on both technical ability and behavioural suitability to their roles. The rewards are increased retention and culturally aligned individuals who can have an immediate impact on a businesses performance. 

Download our ebook “Eliminating Deception To Make Better Hires where we look at the different ways hiring managers can use science and technology to find better candidates who will stick.

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