A Clear Focus for the Future
The role of a procurement leader has undergone major changes over the past two years, shifting from contributing to a company’s bottom line in a specific way to a new multidimensional role as a leader. Chief Procurement Officers (CPOs) were once known for controlling costs and optimizing a supply chain driven by the forces of globalization, however, as disruptive challenges have come up along these supply chains, circular economy and sustainability goals can only be achieved in concert with suppliers, and innovation cycles get shorter and shirter, they are now recognized as strategic advisors who help tackle these challenges.
In conjunction with Bain and Company, we recently hosted an Industry Leaders Global Think Tank Summit with forward-thinking procurement and supply chain leaders from 33 of our customers. The goal of this think tank summit was to discuss and solve the current industry value chain challenges while inspiring a sustainable and resilient supply chain movement to meet global goals.
We kicked off the two day event by setting our intentions and building a Conscious Leadership Community that recognizes our collective power as procurement leaders. Following an inspirational keynote from Tensie Whelan, Professor, NYU Stern for Sustainable Business, we took our leaders on a digital experience tour which had four stations:
Immersive Experience One focused on Sustainable Systems & Business where we discussed how in the USA upcoming rules and enforcement by the Securities and Exchange Commission will drive the transition to have a companywide Green Ledger, and demoed SAP’s Sustainability Control Tower that allows to track company and supply chain progress toward sustainability standards and circular economy goals.
Immersive Experience Two highlighted how our other complementary solutions can enable companies to engage in sustainable practices including an industry leading CPO dashboard that can help companies build a procurement strategy that includes sustainable practices and monitors how their strategies are executed within a company and along the supply chain.
Immersive Experience Three was led by Bain & Company who presented Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) pre-event survey results, which concluded that sustainability change is difficult to implement company wide as a top-level goal. While end-to-end value chain visibility and transparency was rated as the top success factor, prioritization and tools remain the biggest barrier for companies to make systemic progress in ESG procurement programs.
Immersive Experience Four focused on how SAP can help CPOs and their teams with sustainable category management so they can make the right decisions based on ESG metrics while optimizing category metrics to drive specific metrics, for example lowering the carbon footprint.
This led us to dive deeper into the world café tour where the attendees discussed best practices to engage with suppliers, set baselines, monitor and report emissions, and what else is needed to achieve net-zero goals. We also heard concrete ways how companies are driving social impacts beyond supplier diversity and how they are recruiting procurement talent with a growth mindset, to help drive success across their business. The world café tour ended with a discussion about the value drivers for digital transformation across top line, bottom line, and green line.
We closed day one with renowned chef, and owner of Blackbarn, John Doherty, speaking about sustainability throughout the culinary industry. He shared details about the origins of the food we enjoyed that evening. John also founded Heavenly HARVST, a non-profit organization which feeds 7,000 hungry people in New York City. We at SAP joined the many supporters of John’s foundation on the spot with a sizable donation.
Day two focused on resilience, traceability and circularity and kicked off with Think Tank Labs, which provided a platform for our global cohort to discuss and act on:
- increased data sharing and collaboration among suppliers and competing companies as key drivers to unforeseen disruptions
- what procurement can start doing today to help their companies prepare for the shift from fossil fuels to green energy
- agreement on ESG project priorities to focus on and engage their teams to build a common ESG framework, as well as explore a supply chain data exchange consortium for Financial Services using previous consortia for Risk and Compliance data as an example.
We also heard perspectives from leaders in the Life Science Healthcare industry, that shared how they faced the COVID pandemic challenges and created completely new supply chains in record time,
It was exciting to witness the passion amongst the attendees. The level of engagement was fantastic, and it was insightful to hear about the different challenges procurement leaders are facing, and how many of these are common to all businesses, as seen in the pre-event survey.
The two-day experience challenged procurement and supply chain leaders to get out of their comfort zone and join their peers to reflect on their purpose as leaders. We explored how as leaders we can help solve global challenges such as climate change and inequity, while ensuring supply chain resiliency in an unpredictable world.
As the event wrapped up, each leader made a personal pledge to lead with purpose knowing they are part of something bigger than themselves, which inspired them to take immediate action to drive change in their organizations.
I look forward future Think Tank Summits and ongoing engagement with the participants so we can help procurement leaders drive transformation within their organizations.
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