This summer, SPLC is running a Thought Leadership Interview Series in order to recognize and learn from some of the individuals involved in our work.
Today we’re pleased to share our interview with Pat Hopper; Director of Sourcing at FedEx Services. In his role Pat has category and supplier relationship management responsibilities across all FedEx entities, including: Information Technology, Professional Services, Operational Supplies, Supplier Diversity, Supply Chain Sustainability, and Risk.
We hope you enjoy reading about his story and work on sustainable purchasing.
How did your passion for sustainable purchasing develop?
- My professional career has been deeply rooted in purchasing, both in the United States Air Force and with FedEx. By seeing first-hand the impact that a major supply chain can have across the three pillars of sustainability has made me want to find ways to make a difference. I am a very competitive person by nature. Seeing the great achievements that are being made by member companies of the SPLC continues to help push me and my team in the right direction.
What is your organization’s sustainable purchasing story?
- After our organization came together as a shared services organization, it quickly became apparent that we needed a dedicated team to focus on supplier sustainability (as well as diversity and risk). With that in mind, we formed the Supplier Relationship Management team and began to lay the groundwork for the program that we have in place. We still have a very young program, but we have made great strides. By working closely with our CSR team and both internal and external stakeholders, we knew that sustainable purchasing was an area that we had to attack head-on. With this mind set, we will continue to improve and make an impact in the areas we support.
Achievements and Challenges
Thinking about your work related to sustainable purchasing, what is something you’re personally proud of having accomplished?
- We recently completed a sourcing initiative for diesel exhaust fluid. By using our 4-Step Sourcing Methodology we were able to uncover a significant opportunity.
What is a significant challenge that your organization has faced, related to sustainable purchasing?
- The hardest part when implementing any type of new program is making sure that everyone carrying out our new standards has bought in and sees the value in the process. Sometimes it is a challenge to make sure it is not viewed simply as extra work. Building the business case around sustainable purchasing and showing examples of case studies are great ways to combat this.
Making the Business Case
How have you communicated the business case for sustainable purchasing within your organization?
- One of the prominent ways that we have demonstrated the business case for sustainable purchasing is by relying heavily on SPLC and the resources provided within. Chapter 4 of The Guidance breaks down the business case for many of the categories our organization is responsible for, this is a great help.
- We have also gone through a materiality process for our entire enterprise. By reviewing this with our team members we are able to show what is important to our internal and external stakeholders. Many social and environmental issues made the list.
How do you motivate staff/ buyers within your organization to prioritize sustainability when procuring goods/services?
- We have simply made it part of the process. We have attempted to make all pieces of the process as easy as possible. By developing internal relationships and laying out the business case for each category that is purchased, we are able to weave criteria into our processes. Sustainability components are now required in our category strategies, RFx’s, contracts, scorecards, and business reviews.
The Big Picture
What are some emerging trends in sustainable purchasing and how might these affect the future of the sustainable purchasing movement?
- I think that sustainable purchasing is becoming more of the rule and less of the exception. I feel that regulations and company goals are going to continue to become more elevated. The easiest way to make a large impact on this is by targeting your supply chain. I look for suppliers to soon start playing a more critical role in the innovation area. In the past we have come up with ideas and received help and support from our suppliers, but I think for suppliers to continue to be viable, this is going to have to shift. Sustainable options are going to have to become the norm.
What do you value about the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council?
- The relationships that we have been able to build through SPLC are incredibly valuable. We have been able to build connections in virtually every industry that we work with allowing us to have a resource to bounce ideas off of. Having a forum to connect virtually and in person, at the Summit, with like-minded professionals is a great way to grow our program as well as help to influence other programs to follow suit.
What aspirations do you have for the sustainable purchasing movement and the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council?
- The growth of the SPLC has been incredible. This is great to see. We, as a team, are extremely excited about the SPLC BENCHMARK tool that is being developed. When we participated in a previous pilot of the tool, it created excellent conversation and really made us think about a few things differently. By focusing on a few great tools and solutions such as this, I feel that SPLC will continue to move the needle on sustainable purchasing.
We’re very grateful to Pat for all he shared.
FedEx received four Outstanding Case Study Awards in our Leadership Awards this year. From the organization’s work with the Baddour Center, to the Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) Waste Reduction Initiative, the Closed Loop Recycling System, and the Shared Services Model to Impact Sustainability; all of these projects can be explored in our Case Study Library, in brief by non-members or in full by members.
More blog posts from our Thought Leadership Interview Series can be found here.
Would you like to connect with more experts like Pat? Learn more about SPLC Membership.