Study Tracks Career Paths of Chief Purchasing Officers

FOR RELEASE: September 29, 1998

CONTACT: Zenobia Daruwalla
  NAPM Media Relations
  602/752-6276 ext. 3015

(Tempe, Arizona) &151 How do you become a Chief Purchasing Officer (CPO)? What skill sets and experience should a typical CPO have? What is management looking for in a CPO?

These are some of the questions raised in the study The Making of the CPO: The Mobility Patterns of Chief Purchasing Officers authored by Aaron A. Buchko, Ph.D., Bradley University.

The study, published by the Center for Advanced Purchasing Studies (CAPS), tracks the career paths of executives in purchasing and supply management. The primary objective of the study is to begin building a knowledge base for tracking individuals in and out of the CPO position.

Dr. Buchko states, because the purchasing and supply management field is becoming more and more essential to an organization, knowing what qualities to look for in a CPO will be valuable for companies in the near future. "How the executive develops over time is key. This study can help managers identify the talent it will take to manage the supply chain successfully within their organization."

The study shows what jobs can help groom the potential CPO, and outlines the typical CPO's career path. Because purchasing and supply chain management functions are assuming more of a strategic role in companies, understanding the career paths and development experience of those who function as CPOs is becoming increasingly important.

Some of the findings in the study show that "immigrants" or executives hired into their current organization as CPO are much more likely to have spent most of their careers working in the purchasing function, while those spending 5 or more years with an organization moved across functions during their career. The research shows that moving cross-functionally helps make CPOs more mobile.

Dr. Buchko also stated that because of new technologies, business processes, and global competitiveness, corporations must change quickly, and this study can help aid organizations in finding a leader for the supply chain management function.

The Center for Advanced Purchasing Studies was established in 1986 to address the need for industry-oriented research in purchasing. CAPS is the result of an affiliation agreement between the College of Business at Arizona State University and the National Association of Purchasing Management.

The National Association of Purchasing Management is a not-for-profit association that provides national and international leadership in purchasing and supply management research and education. The association exists to educate, develop, and advance the purchasing and supply management profession. NAPM provides members and nonmembers alike with opportunities to expand their professional knowledge and skills. NAPM is comprised of 180 affiliates with 43,000 members throughout the United States and Puerto Rico. Visit the NAPM Web site at