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Published 18 October 2012 04:34, Updated 21 November 2012 07:10
CPO – most people would say that’s the shiny guy from the Star Wars trilogy but perhaps not for much longer as chief procurement officers find their way on to the top floor and the boardroom.
Procurement is one of Australia’s fastest growing professions, the managing director of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply Australasia (CIPSA) , Jonathan Dutton, says .
This is despite it being a field prone to bad publicity, usually when a contractor to the procurement team misbehaves. Think of the embarrassment Foxconn has caused to Apple and last year when a supplier to Zara in Brazil was caught using slave labour.
Australia’s small market, with its diminishing manufacturing base, geographical isolation and far-flung population poses big risks to supply chains, Dutton says.
“You ride roughshod over your supplier relationships at your peril,” he says. “It’s true some of them may appear to have no alternative to supplying you but squeeze them hard enough and they’ll invent some.”
Most sizeable Australian companies with “direct” supply risks – where a missing component means a production process stops – already count CIPSA members among their executive suite.
Most have only “indirect” suppliers of inputs such as stationery, fuel, insurance, marketing services and so on, however Dutton claims hiring dedicated procurement staff can still create big savings and a competitive advantage.