Is the CPO the Next CEO?

Odemi Pessu
Odemi Pessu
Content & Storytelling Marketing Manager, Coupa Software

Odemi Pessu is a Content & Storytelling Marketing Manager at Coupa. She is also an author, artist, and women’s rights advocate. Odemi earned her Master of Public Affairs at Brown University, where she also earned her bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Political Economy. Her book, Force of Nature, encourages African women to lean into their vulnerability for strength and to honor their divine feminine energy for spiritual liberation.

Read time: 2 mins
Is the CPO the Next CEO?

The world of global trade is rapidly changing. As such, the rise of digital financial processes in the midst of disrupted supply chains calls for leadership that extends beyond the boardroom. Moving beyond earnings reports and the occasional roundtable discussion, businesses need a practitioner’s eye coupled with a strategic mind.

Rising inflation and the sourcing challenges of the pandemic called procurement professionals to rise to the task of assuring consistent cash flow, maintaining dependable supplier relationships, and navigating terse trade restrictions. The agility and strategy employed by CPOs enabled businesses across various industries to operate efficiently despite potentially fatal setbacks. As the necessities for business continuity evolve and change, so must the responsibilities of executive leadership

Heightened financial risk calls for a new CEO pipeline

One could nearly position Chief Procurement Officers as the underdog of business operations. Though the COO and CFO have been natural successors to the CEO, it is time for CPOs to be part of that consideration. Due to the occasionally volatile nature of effective sourcing, senior procurement professionals have in-depth knowledge about supply chain resilience, risk management, spend optimization, and supplier relationships.

CPOs know everything there is to know about the business ecosystem beyond internal functions. Healthy supplier relationships often fall to the wayside until it is too late and crisis hits. To drive business success forward, even during turbulent times, modern executives need to merge business innovation with an external engagement strategy that works.

CPOs can optimize business spend for strategic DEI & ESG objectives

Every single dollar a business spends should be optimized. CPOs are uniquely aware of this fact and are able to employ their comprehensive knowledge of the business ecosystem to reduce costs, improve lead time, and achieve objectives for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and environment, social, and governance (ESG). Through intentional sourcing and spending, procurement leaders can support environmental and social governance strategies, diversity, inclusion and maintain compliance across the board.

With business continuity as an essential clause of procurement responsibility, CPOs can drive business strategy forward from a bird’s eye view and “on-the-ground” perspective. This vantage point presents the opportunity for executive leadership that is prepared for anything and everything.

So, is the CPO the next CEO? Watch this episode of Trends on Spend to hear from Coupa’s Chief Procurement Officer, Michael Van Keulen. He dives deep into the topic, and offers a new playbook for a new era.