CPO Spotlight: Dr Jonathan Sims

For Procurement Heads‘ latest CPO Spotlight, he spoke with Dan Goodson about the key tenets of being a CPO, how the sector has changed during his career and what he’s most passionate about when it comes to procurement.

You have a vast amount of experience, including being a Visiting Fellow at Nottingham Business School (Nottingham Trent University) and Durham University Business School as well as being an Affiliate Professor at Emlyon business school in France, what do these roles entail?

In terms of Nottingham Business School, I have had a close working relationship with the school for more than 20 years. 

This experience is as a student, having undertaken my BSc, MSc, MBA, and DBA at Nottingham, as an Alumni, and most importantly as a member of their Advisory Board for the last 10 years. 

In this role, I collaborate with other external industrial advisors and key academics to ensure that the content of the MSc Management Programmes is aligned with the needs of the business.  

Due to my long-standing relationship with Nottingham Business School, I was invited to assume the post of Visiting Fellow in 2022. 

In this role, I am working on several projects including authoring articles, mentoring PhD students, and supporting the recently formed Centre for Business and Industry Transformation (CBIT) with Professor Xiao Ma.

At Durham University I participate in several exciting projects in my role as Visiting Fellow. 

Primarily I support the Global Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) programme between Durham and Emlyon University. 

This is a prestigious programme that attracts some of the brightest talents from around the globe. 

I guest lecture on this programme and function as an Industrial mentor for the cohort. 

I also support new programme development at Durham and sit as the Co-Industrial Chair on the Charles Wilson Smart and Scale-up Sandpit. 

This Sandpit is focused on supporting SMEs with new business models, innovation, and employability in the NE of England. 

Due to my involvement in the Global DBA Programme, I became an Affiliate Professor at Emlyon Business School in 2022. 

During your career in procurement, how much has the sector changed?

While certain aspects of procurement are perpetual challenges that always reoccur periodically or cyclically, there have been many changes over the past 10 to 15 years. 

I feel the scope of procurement has expanded significantly and the ability of procurement teams to more profoundly impact and influence the wider organisation has intensified. 

Procurement teams are now at the forefront of the ESG agenda and focused upon a much wider set of objectives than just scope, price, and programme. 

Supplier due diligence, ESG, traceability, responsibility, mitigating risks associated with modern slavery, decarbonisation, supplier diversity, social impact and supporting social enterprises; are all material considerations in today’s procurement department. While they were part of the conversation several years ago, the level of focus now is a real change in thinking.

I also feel procurement has become more professional than it was at the start of my career. 

The calibre of the individuals that we employ with the function is impressive and the qualifications held and the desire for continued professional development are high. 

I have individuals within my team pursuing PhDs and MBAs and staff at all levels are engaged in CIPS qualifications and the pursuit of professional accreditation. 

The level of cross-functional engagement is also much better, and I see procurement engaged as part of the early solution rather than just transactionally or retrospectively, as was the case much earlier in my career. 

What, in your opinion, are the key tenets of a Chief Procurement Officer?

I passionately believe that the role of the CPO is to elevate the profile, thinking and impact that the procurement function can have within the organisation. 

I feel that the primary responsibility of the CPO is to build, coach and develop a high-performing team and enable every individual within the function to perform at their highest level.  

Finally, I think the CPO need to act as the eyes and ears of the function, taking on board the needs and expectations of the organisation and translating these into the functional deliverables to maintain the relevance and impact of the function. 

What are you most passionate about when it comes to procurement?

I enjoy talent development and team building.  

I am privileged to work with some incredible people at Equans, and I take great pride in enabling my team to grow, improve and achieve their ambitions within the organisation.  

At a Group level, I also participate in some of the global conversations on talent, HR strategies and CSR and I thoroughly enjoy working in a multicultural environment and learning from colleagues with different lived experiences and perspectives.

Equans was acquired by Bouygues in October – what opportunities does this create?

The acquisition of Equans by Bouygues is a really exciting development.  

Equans is now positioned as a true world leader in technical services and is at the forefront of the energy, industrial and digital transition.  

We see this as our triple chance for continued growth and development.  

As an entity, we now have 96,000 staff across 17 countries with revenues of circa €19m.

What do you look for when hiring people for your procurement team?

Passion, drive, transferable skills, a willingness to learn, business acumen and integrity. 

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