Dan Knott, Chrysler CPO, dies age 51 – one of procurement’s good guys

It was sad to read reports of the death earlier this week of Dan Knott, the CPO at Chrysler, at the age of just 51.  He took medical retirement from the firm just three weeks ago, due to cancer. I never met him, but by all accounts, he was one of the industry's and profession’s good guys.

“Dan joined the company in 1988 as a senior engineer. He was promoted to head of procurement in 2009 and helped in the creation of SRT models like Dodge Viper, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Chrysler 300C. As Vice President of Purchasing and Supplier Quality, he turned around the company's relations with suppliers”.

Dan Knott (pic courtesy Chrysler)

He was in the CPO role for just 3 years, but  was credited with turning round Chrysler’s relationships with major suppliers, which were poor and under pressure following the firms problems and eventual entry into Chapter 11. Here’s Autoblog:

After just three years on the job, the head of the Original Equipment Supplier's Association said Knott had done "more than any individual that I know of in the history of OEM/supplier relations" when it came turning around Chrysler's dealings with suppliers.

Chrysler’s CEO said, “Dan Knott was an inspirational leader, who cared deeply about the company and, most of all, his people... He made a huge contribution to Chrysler by improving our relations with suppliers with an approach based on honesty, transparency and accountability”.

Many people commented that he was a real motor industry man. He clearly loved the industry, he even raced cars himself at times, and he’d been involved in the development and engineering of some notable and iconic models like the Viper.

But only 51 years old. That means those of us of a certain age almost inevitably start personalising the news, even when we don’t know the individual in question. And reading the various articles and tributes led me to a few conclusions or thoughts – a little heavy for a Friday morning perhaps, but food for thought.

1.  Knott worked in a job he appeared to love, in an industry he really cared about. Of course, that isn’t possible for everyone, but as an aspiration – wouldn’t it be great if we could all be in that situation?

2. How would your colleagues talk about if you weren’t around any more? And, if you’re in procurement, what about your suppliers; or your customers if you’re in sales or marketing?  Would they use words like ”honesty, transparency, accountability...” ?

3. Some might find it odd, but personally the idea of working until very close to the end, whenever it comes, appeals. To contribute, like Knott, as much as you possibly can in your allotted time...

4. Finally, it’s easy to assume that we’ll all live to be 80 or 90 these days.  But we might not. And the thing that hits home to me increasingly with age (a cliché and a truism, I know), is that we don’t get a second chance. You can’t think, “I’ll try that next time round”. Or necessarily do it “when I retire”.  This is it. Right here, right now.

Finally, our sincere condolences and good wishes go to Dan Knott’s family, friends and colleagues.

Voices (2)

  1. Brettsinclair:

    Very sad news.

    Used this theme for a team workshop last week based on everyone writing an obitary for themselves ( both personally and professionally) and the procurement service we offer. Proved to be really useful in gaining a perspective on how we are preceived and how we can influence the future.

    Used a poem called “The Dash” to help engage everyone in the process. A bit over sentimental but was a good starting point for the session.

    http://www.kirstytaylor.net/thedashpoem.html

    1. Peter Smith:

      Thanks for that link – and that’s a very good idea for a workshop.Getting people to think beyond the day to day business and – as you say – the opportunity we all have to “influence the future” while we can.

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