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What is a Chief Purpose Officer?

Julia Koelsch//Culture
Chief Purpose Officer, Julia Koelsch

Hi, my name is Julia Koelsch, and I am the Chief Purpose Officer at Spry Digital. You may be wondering, “what does this title mean?” CPO is a new role for me and for the company. In fact, few companies have a Chief Purpose Officer, so I’d like to share why we defined this role and what it means for the future of Spry.

Being guided by our mission

At the end of 2021, our senior leadership team met for our Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) annual planning session. We spent two days outside of our day-to-day work to define our one-year, three-year, and 10-year goals. When envisioning what Spry Digital looks like in 2032, we reimagined everything through the lens of our core values and mission, which is:

We are inspired to make an impact with unique experiences that enable growth.

If we break down our mission, it would consist of our passion:

“We are inspired to make an impact.”

and our focus:

“unique experiences that enable growth.”

We processed what it meant to make an impact beyond the experiences we design and create, and the definition became clear.

Spry Digital exists to make an impact for our clients by driving their organizations forward. We exist to make an impact for our employees by defining and living our values and being a place where employees can grow and thrive. We exist to make an impact in our communities by supporting our neighbors, open-source communities, and our local and regional business communities. This passion that drove us to start Spry Digital is still what drives us every day.

As our CEO, Sheila Burkett leads our company to grow our impact. And every team member keeps this as a focus. Yet, if we are to realize our 10-year vision, we need to focus even more on our mission and be more intentional about making an impact. Out of this discussion, we decided that a new role that focuses on our purpose would make the biggest impact as we grow.

This role would encompass these areas of responsibility: 

  • Support Spry Digital’s growth through employee recruitment
  • Support employee growth by defining career paths, development plans, and training opportunities
  • Support our clients through refining our processes and the apps and tools we use to support those processes, and helping define a technical strategy for clients
  • Support Spry Digital’s purpose by ensuring we continue to commit to and meet our goals to support Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility, and support the communities we interact with to foster the same commitment and action

Once we defined the role responsibilities, it was clear that the title “Chief Purpose Officer” perfectly encapsulated the role's focus. As a co-founder of this company, I couldn’t be more proud and honored that I have been charged with filling this role at Spry Digital.

The role of the Chief Purpose Officer

In my new role, I’ve mentored new leaders, created a Spry Digital book club, defined and implemented a culture-strengthening feedback process, conducted project retrospective meetings, worked with teams to define career paths, and led training sessions, to name just a few areas of my focus to date. My future goals include updating our recruitment, hiring, and onboarding processes to support our DEIA goals and creating an environment where everyone feels they belong.

The title of Chief Purpose Officer may be new to the business world. Still, I’m encouraged that more companies are defining similar roles. I hope we see more CPOs and other new leadership titles that help define and drive an organization’s purpose.