Today’s article is the second installment in a series we’re running on the CPO Rising Summit we held last month at the Harvard Club of Boston. It’s been over a month since our second-annual event, and as we end the year, we’re taking some time to pause and reflect not only on 2017, but also on this year’s event. Andrew Bartolini’s first article is a tough act to follow, but in the spirit of the venue and its namesake, I’ll give it the old college try. 

Game On

To borrow an opening line from F. Scott Fitzgerald, in my younger and more vulnerable years, I was a competitive athlete, graduating from baseball and basketball to football and ultimately to rugby, the greatest game I’ve ever played. Many who’ve played the game (or any physically intense sport, really) know that there’s the buildup to every match: the months of training, the weeks of practice, and the days and hours of anxiety over the first hit. But once the whistle blows and you make contact, you settle down just enough to find your zone and enjoy the game. You live in the moment, even while you’re mapping out your literal next steps. And then just like that, it’s over; and you can hardly believe it. Sure, you’re battered and tired, and you’re happy for the breather; but you might also be a little disappointed that it went by so quickly. That’s when you know you put the hard work in, prepared, and played well.

Okay, so we’re not here to talk about rugby — we’re here to talk about procurement events — but there are parallels. Years of vision and months of planning went into our inaugural CPO Rising procurement executive summit that we held last year. And like last year, this year’s summit was here and gone in a flash. Months of team meetings, phone calls, emails, and planning sessions boiled down to a day and a half where some of the procurement industry’s brightest minds and most accomplished leaders took the stage at the Harvard Club’s illustrious Grand Hall. Andrew, Ardent’s managing partner and chief research officer (you might call him our team’s captain, or “player-coach”), kicked off for us on Day 1. He then set up our Day 1 Chairperson, Uldis Sipols, a long-time procurement executive and the former VP of Procurement and Global Product Supply Purchases at Gillette/Procter & Gamble, who charmed the crowd of over 130 procurement pros throughout the day.

The speakers we had were phenomenal, especially our keynote speakers. Tom Linton, Chief Procurement and Supply Chain Officer at Flex and Walter Charles III, CPO at Biogen, gave awe-inspiring presentations as they shared their teams’ use of cutting edge analytics techniques to drive real-time insights and greater enterprise value. Bill Michels, CEO of Aripart Consulting and longtime procurement industry leader, gave a sobering vision of the kind of world in which procurement leaders will work in 2028. And David Natoff, former head of P2P at Google, shared his sophisticated approach to where and how procurement can move its “sphere of influence” to maximize its impact. These were just the keynote speakers; our many breakout sessions, roundtable discussions, and expert panels were big hits and arguably what helped to make the event so unique.

Half Time

During our Awards Gala Dinner, Tom Linton, along with another renowned procurement executive, Shelley Stewart, Jr., CPO at DuPont, were inducted into the CPO Rising Hall of Fame. They joined Gregg Brandyberry and Hal Good, both longtime procurement pros and Hall of Fame inductees who were inducted last year and returned this year. [It should be noted that Tim Cook, former CPO and COO, and now current CEO of Apple, Inc., who was inducted into the CPO Rising Hall of Fame last year in absentia, could not make it again this year.] Gregg and Hal led thought-provoking and inspiring roundtable discussions. Gregg also joined a CPO panel, along with CPO Rising “veterans” Bill McNally, deputy acquisitions officer for NASA, and Bob Kane, AVP and Head of Procurement at Enel Green Power, North America, who both returned to support us once again. Gregg even served as Master of Ceremonies during the Awards Gala Dinner and led us through a rollicking prelude to the Awards Ceremony (click here to read more about the awards and this year’s recipients).

Resume Play

Day 2 keynotes were just as impressive, with Chris Shanahan, CPO at BD, sharing his and his team’s experience with driving procurement transformation during the M&A process. Ryan Murray, Deputy Director for the New York City Mayor’s Office of Contract Services (deputy CPO), gave a captivating keynote on his team’s experience with driving digital transformation through his department’s contracting and procurement operations. And John Zagata, Director of Indirect Goods and Services for Enbridge, returned to Boston to share Enbridge’s three-year journey towards revamping its contingent workforce management program.

Frankly, seeing so many familiar faces this year made CPO Rising 2017 feel like a reunion of sorts — the best kind where you not only meet old friends but new ones, and you look forward to the next time you see them.

Practice Like You Play

Although we at Ardent Partners were not running progression drills around a pitch, the buildup to CPO Rising 2017 felt familiar. We set out last year to plan, execute, and deliver on an event that would top last year’s event — one that would continue to excite and inspire our followers, colleagues, and clients in the industry. And with regular training, fitness checks, and several gut checks, we were ready to lace up our boots and take the field. We left it all out there, had a great time in the process, and left feeling even more jazzed for next year’s big event, which (because it was so much fun), will now be two full days. Stay tuned, because the CPO will Rise once again in 2018.



Reflections on The CPO Rising 2017 Summit (Part 1): CPOs Rise and Shine

Meet the Winners – CPO Honors 2017: Walter Charles

Meet the Winners – CPO Rising Hall of Famer Tom Linton

Meet the Winners – CPO Rising Hall of Famer Shelley Stewart

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