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The Mind of the CSCO

Experience navigating the complex web of stakeholders has chief supply chain officers well positioned to move into CEO roles.


Supply Chain World | March 22, 2017



The Supply Chain World article, “The Mind of the CSCO,” written by Russell Reynolds Associates Consultant Peter L. O'Brien looked at the changing role of the chief supply chain officer. The article is excerpted below

The role of the chief supply chain officer, or CSCO, seems to grow in complexity and strategic relevance over the years. Two decades ago, we could barely conceive of one individual overseeing the entire end-to-end supply chain. A study in 2004 showed that only 8 percent of Fortune 200 companies had a CSCO. Today, the percentage of organizations having someone responsible for overseeing a combination of end-to-end supply-chain functions has increased to 68 percent. Several prominent companies have even considered tapping leaders with specific global supply chain experience for the CEO role. These developments compelled Russell Reynolds Associates to look more closely at what traits make CSCOs different from other executives, what traits enable or hinder CSCOs looking to step into a CEO role and how the CSCO role is evolving more generally.

Transforming from Tactical/Functional Role to an Interconnected Strategist

CSCOs in most large organizations have moved from a hands-on, tactical operator to a leader driving growth, agility and strategic advantage. Costs are still important, but today’s best-in-class global supply chain leaders are making strategic decisions that enable the business to expand in the most efficient way. When we examined their attributes relative to other executives, we were not surprised to find leaders who tend to be significantly more strategic and innovative, inclined to act independently, persistent and determined. CSCOs tend to contemplate the future, anticipate change and think innovatively about solutions. They lead change, cut through bureaucracy, set clear directions and do what it takes to reach their goals. More than other executives in the management team, CSCOs have to navigate a complex web of stakeholders. During interactions with those around them they are very aware that they are part of a global, interconnected supply-and-demand network with profound interdependencies. They therefore tend to have an objective and logical approach, remaining fairly formal and reserved in their interpersonal relationships.

To read the full article, click here.

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The Mind of the CSCO