CPO Crunch: Just add R&D

David Rae

Why extending the CPO remit could shift corporate thinking and unlock new sources of long-term value

A few weeks ago, a LinkedIn post from one of our members provided a tantalising and hopeful glimpse into the future. 

This might be a bold claim but when Amanda Davies, Chief Procurement & Sustainability Officer at Mars Wrigley, announced that she was adding R&D to her remit to become Chief R&D, Procurement & Sustainability Officer, it provided a welcome reminder of the opportunity we have as a function.

Amanda is only one individual working for one organisation but, as a statement of how procurement’s role might evolve in the coming years, it was powerful and logical. And here’s why.

First, procurement sits at the centre of the value chain and CPOs have a privileged view of both customer need and upstream capability. At the same time, high-impact procurement teams are close allies of their business stakeholders, bringing their needs into the crosshairs of the right partners. 

This brings multiple benefits – not least potential access to third-party investment dollars, as well as improved agility, faster decisions, and a greater degree of trust. 

In short, key suppliers and partners become extensions of the enterprise; and the power of applying that extended network with internal capability to solving sustainable growth projects is an intoxicating prospect. 

There’s no doubt that it’s the CPO who is best positioned to lead this.  

Second, having R&D, sustainability and third-party spend under a single leader enables longer-term thinking and the development of strategies that can tackle some of the larger-scale challenges we face. By entwining the strategies of these functions into a holistic, ambitious, and long-term plan, real progress can be made on net zero, on supply chain redesign and on other critical business issues that require investment, patience and vision. 

It would mean that organisations could make progress in shifting corporate thinking so procurement spend is seen as an investment rather than a cost; and that short-term, opportunistic, and savings-driven decisions are consigned to history. 

This in turn would mean that all procurement, sustainability, and R&D decisions are made on a total sustainable cost of ownership basis with the ultimate goal of delivering long term, sustainable customer value. 

It’s a tantalising future, but one that Mars Wrigley has clearly acknowledged as an underexploited source of value. It goes without saying that we wish her luck.

Demystifying the ESG regulatory landscape

A recent Procurement Leaders CPO Connect Call explored the ESG regulatory landscape in both the US and EU, including contributions from Vandemoortele and DuPont. The conversation formed part of our ongoing ESG glide path work and highlighted the importance of cross-functional collaboration and supplier engagement to meet new requirements. 

Over the coming weeks we will be exploring this issue in greater depth, culminating in the creation of a community output in the summer focused on examples of how members are gathering and utilising primary Scope 3 data.

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