Procurement – much more than a job

David Rae

CPOs must take a lead on encouraging industry collaboration if they are to drive progress on sustainability

“Procurement is not a job, it’s a responsibility,” are words that will be nagging at the minds of a hundred procurement executives, following an impassioned speech by Henkel CPO Bertrand Conqueret in Frankfurt last week.

As a founding member of Together for Sustainability (TfS) and a cofounder of the Sustainable Procurement Pledge, Bertrand was taking advantage of a prompt offered by the outgoing CPO of Innio, Thomas Janvier.

It wasn’t staged. Both were guests at the 2024 Procurement Leaders DACH Forum – Thomas a speaker, Bertrand a delegate. Thomas had just finished a session entitled Net-zero based procurement – (un)realistic expectations and had argued how the idea of decarbonisation costing a lot of money was a myth and that offsetting is a cheat’s game.

He had gone on to finish his presentation by challenging that organisations need to work together to make real progress on Scope 3 decarbonisation.

“I’m not sure if anyone here is from TfS,” he said, rightly pointing out how the chemical-industry platform is the only real example of industry-level sustainability collaboration taking place today. Cue Bertrand.

Speaking for just a couple of minutes to a captivated audience of European CPOs, heads of excellence and other procurement leadership executives, Bertrand explained how the 51 members of TfS were now able to drive real impact, given the reach the chemicals sector has and the exponential influence they in turn have on suppliers.

He questioned why the chemicals sector stood alone. Why is it that other industries are not able to collaborate, share data and work together for the common good?

It’s a good question and one that every CPO should ask themselves, because it is CPOs who must stand up and create these types of platforms – no one else will do it, and no one else will tell or ask a CPO to do it.

In short, CPOs have a responsibility to make this happen, to work with peers in competing organisations, and relevant stakeholders internally. As Bertrand said in Frankfurt: “The answer is in this room.”

The room he refers to? The figurative room of procurement.

New model procurement

Next week, the CPO community will come together virtually to discuss operating models – a key potential enabler of future value. We will explore what it takes to build agile, autonomous, digital, and data-led functions, as well as how procurement can best interface with key internal and external stakeholders.

From speaking to many CPOs over the past few weeks, I know how current this issue is and how some CPOs are thinking through – and in some cases executing – radical overhauls of their procurement structure. For Procurement Leaders members who are able to join us, it promises to be a fascinating conversation.

To receive weekly insights from the Procurement Leaders community, sign up to the CPO Crunch newsletter using the link at the top of this page.

Scroll to Top

Submit the form to find out more about membership