HR Careers – How do you become a CPO?

Becoming a Chief People Officer is what many working in Human Resources aspire to. The role is often regarded as the highest possible HR position and reaching that level often requires years of skill, experience and knowledge. An increasing number of businesses across the world are investing heavily in their HR structure as we climb out of the pandemic, which means the function of the CPO is starting to adapt to changing demands. So, in a constantly changing landscape, how do you become a CPO?

Step 1: Finding the right career options

This might seem like a simple step to take but it can often be the most important in securing a CPO or equivalent position. Many company HR structures will facilitate career progression to a certain level i.e. HR Manager positions. This is why it is important to assess your career progression opportunities with your current employer. Your current organisation may simply be too small to facilitate a CPO position but they may also want to retain you and will commit to a development programme to do so. Or you need to move on.

Step 2: Getting the qualifications

Gaining the right professional qualifications can offer a faster route to becoming a CPO, they can often be vital when applying for a new CPO role. The most common and sought-after qualification is a high-level CIPD qualification, typically level 7 qualifications are a standard requirement on most CPO job advertisements. However qualifications like an MBA or MSc can also be helpful. Your employer may support you through your CIPD qualification, especially if they have a senior HR position available. It is always worth asking your employer about training programs and opportunities but as their HR lead they may expect you to be able to map this out for yourself.

Step 3: Acquiring the right CPO skills

Understanding the main skills required to be a successful CPO before you apply for the job will prove invaluable when you finally secure the position. But what are the main skill sets employers look for when recruiting for CPO’s?

Business acumen: as a member of the leadership team CPO’s work closely with senior c-suite level employees, this includes the CEO and CFO to help integrate business-wide strategies. This means that as a CPO your experience and recommendations will likely influence the decisions of the CEO. To ensure these decisions will benefit the wider company, a CPO must acknowledge how those decisions will impact the business and have a contingency plan in place if something goes wrong.   

Talent management: this is a vital skill relating to the central HR function and can refer to the different ways in which a business attracts and retains employees. The CPO will typically strategize with the wider HR function and business to implement policies aimed at attracting and retaining talent. This will often include constantly reviewing the company EVP to ensure it is in line with other market trends.

Emotional intelligence: the key function of the CPO role is centred around people. Interpersonal skills and an ability to understand how other people may be feeling is a crucial skill any senior HR professional should possess. Having an empathetic approach is important as is the abilkity to listen and draw out the quietest voice.

Influential: to drive company change at a cultural level a CPO must be a confident and inspiring leader. The CPO will often be responsible from driving positive change through communicating with the wider business. A successful CPO will be commercial, communicative, confident and a visionary looking one step ahead. But they will also be able to coach and balance out the C-suite, especially giving the CEO support.


Chief People Officer Salary Expectations

The average salary of a CPO can vary depending on the organisation, responsibilities, industry, location etc, however they are often regarded as some of the highest-paid HR positions.

According to salary.com, the average Chief People Officer salary in the United Kingdom is £190,562 as of March 12, 2021, but the range typically falls between £89,474 and £333,685.

Step 4: CPO – support to grow

At Amelore, we have many years of experience of recruiting and developing HR & People professionals to grow into and excel as CPO’s. It’s a real passion for us.

If we work with an individual we take time to understand their strengths, ambitions and development areas. We profile their personality. With their permission we speak to their company sponsor. Once we have identified and agreed the gaps we begin development sessions. Every programme is bespoke and may involve the individual working with more than one People professional to gain knowledge.

We coach, mentor and advise. We inspire, challenge and support. We train, sign post and hold to account. If you’d like to find out more, please email us [email protected] or call us on 07775 697657.