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Where are the CPOs of tomorrow?


Gary Noble

Look around your procurement department – how many members of staff are millennials? If the answer is very few then how is your procurement department going to remain sustainable and what is your organisation doing to attract and retain those professionals who will make up its future? According to a recent study by EY , by 2025, 75% of the global workforce will be made up of millennials – people who embrace – and even demand – a different type of working environment.  They want innovative technology, fulfilling and flexible careers and the ability to make a difference.

Tech savvy

Millennials are used to embracingAnchor the very latest technology in their personal life – and so they are not going to be turned on by ERP systems that were implemented in the 90s!  They have been brought up in an on-demand environment and so want technology solutions that enable automation of routine processes so that they can spend more time on higher value work. As Nick Drewe co-founder of Market Dojo, a procurement services company points out: “We’ve grown up in the age of the iPhone. I want to be able to take technology out of the box, turn it on and for it to immediately make an impact. No training manuals, no having to search for menus and certainly not some antiquated Y2000 interface.  Sadly, most procurement technology is lacking in this regard.”   

Lateral Thinking

While defined and structured career paths maybe an inherent part of your onboarding and retention strategies, it’s also important to recognise that for many millennials, the historical career route may actually be a detractor. Millennials like change and innovation and may be just as happy with a lateral career move as a perceived upward one.  What is important for this generation is being constantly challenged and stimulated – money isn’t always the biggest motivator – an important point to remember when looking at retention strategies.

Professional Development

Training and development are obviously important in any organisation – but millennials are very switched on to ongoing professional development and if they feel that the company is investing in them, that’s a big plus, particularly if there is the opportunity to learn from others.  In fact, according to research undertaken by PwC almost a third of millennials said that the opportunity to work with coaches and mentors was the most valued aspect of training.

A final thought

Let’s not forget though that millennials are a generation – not just a bunch of twenty somethings.  The oldest millennial will be 37 this year and so could feasibly already be a CPO. So, don’t look at making changes simply to ‘appease’ what may be perceived as a group of needy upstarts – embrace the change – and the value – that the millennial generation brings. Because with change comes innovation and that can only be a good thing for tomorrow’s procurement functions.

Have you got the right people in place to deal with changing demographics in the workforce? Take a look at how we have helped organisations build world class procurement and supply chain functions or if you are seeking a new challenge, visit our jobs page.