Coupa Moves Towards IPO and Recruits a CPO To The Board

So in a not-very-surprising-at-all move, spend management software firm Coupa announced last week that they are raising $75 million later this year with a flotation /IPO of the business on the US Nasdaq stock market. Various rumours about a pre-IPO acquisition, with IBM and Oracle being the usual names mentioned, died away this year, leaving most industry observers to assume an IPO was the likely next step. We will have more on this once we've read the 143 page prospectus ...

There have also been various senior appointments in the firm, and the one that caught our eye was "only" a non-executive appointment, but is notable in that the individual appointed is a career procurement practitioner and leader.  It's still fairly unusual  to see procurement folk at Board level, in either executive or non-executive roles, so we were pleased to link up with the lady in question, Leslie Campbell.

She has worked both sides of the Atlantic, most recently as the CPO for Reed Elsevier. She has held similar positions with tech firms Dell and Oracle, and has a background in finance with some experience also in sales - so you can start to see  why she got the gig! We were able to put a few questions to her anyway.

Leslie, congratulations on the appointment.  You're joining a very impressive firm at an important time - how has a procurement professional ended up being the right person to be a non-exec director of a major business?

"Our CEO Rob Bernshteyn has very mindfully built the Coupa board with an eye to creating a highly functional governance team with diverse backgrounds and perspectives. Given the nature of Coupa’s Spend Management mission, and the vision of Value as a Service, I think a procurement professional with strong international experience was really a logical addition to the board".

Obviously I'd have to agree - but how does procurement expertise and knowledge translate into useful skills for a non-exec?

"Procurement has evolved dramatically since I first entered this space many years ago. Both the discipline of procurement and the professionals who practice it have changed over the years. Today, procurement is widely recognised as a real, measurable, value contributor to an enterprise, and CPOs are firmly in the C-suite at many of the largest companies in the world. Commercial and financial acumen, operational excellence, collaboration and influencing skills, and the ability to attract and retain talent all play into the ultimate success of a CPO.

And notably, CPOs are often coming to their roles from non-traditional tracks—finance professionals, operational professionals, and general managers are all finding their way into procurement. As a result, the industry is seeing more and more CPOs who are well rounded executives with both broad and deep corporate experience, and who ultimately can be great contributors to corporate boards".

That's an interesting point - actually we heard something similar from a top recruiter recently. So what do you think you can personally add to Coupa because of your background?

"I’m very honoured to be a member of such an impressive board, and to have a part in Coupa’s exciting future. Like each of my fellow board members, as well as Rob and his talented management team, I bring my own unique perspective to Coupa, and will draw on my particular areas of expertise and experience in contributing to our shared mission. Specifically of course, my procurement expertise will be a key element of my contribution, and my international experience on both the procurement and sales sides I think gives me a good understanding of Coupa’s opportunities in many markets. Having said that, I fully expect to learn as much as I contribute, and I’m already inspired by the conversations I’m having at the board and management team level".

Thanks again to Campbell and we wish her luck and every success in the role.

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