Tell us about your career path. How did you get into this field? Was it purposeful or by accident?
Throughout my life, I’ve been interested in both business and sustainability – more specifically, the integration of the two. When I was in business school, there was no focus or discussion on sustainability. A trend that became even more evident upon graduation. True, there was work happening through Corporate Affairs, PR, and CSR – but I was interested in strategy, data, partnerships and core “PNL” driving functions. I embarked on a career working with buyers at the biggest national and global retailers to deliver against business needs. Working in Consumer-Packaged Goods and retail environments made me an execution junky, understanding the important role that operations plays in delivering results.
At the same time, I maintained a drive to develop and grow a culture of sustainability within my organization. I became an ambassador for intrapreneurship by building and leading our Canadian sustainability team focusing on education and engagement.
Eventually, I hit a point where I could no longer ignore the need to bridge the gap between sustainability and business operations and repositioned my focus to working with companies and the integration of sustainability
into their procurement organization, which is what I am doing now.
Would you follow that same path again if you had the choice?
Absolutely. My early career offered me international exposure and my time in a Fortune 500 enabled me with the best possible cross-functional business education, mentors and friends.
What has been the single most significant development to impact your profession or area of business during your career and why?
The gradual, but increasing, acceptance that sustainability is not an optional practice for businesses – it’s a necessity for continuity, growth and innovation.
What’s the biggest challenge facing your industry today - and how do you plan to solve it?
The biggest challenge is the inability for established businesses – those with the ability to drive significant impact – to be nimble and adopt, implement and scale solutions at the same pace at which they are developing. The convergence of technology, sustainability and procurement is revolutionary. It’s enabling data to drive decisions, scale globally, and integrate into business practices and tools. However, this change is suddenly happening faster than can be absorbed and implemented in an impactful way for many organizations. At the core of any change are the people who need to be mobilized.
What do you consider to be your greatest achievement career-wise?
Building a culture of sustainability in an organization that was not ready. I built a team from the ground up, with organizational support that grew through communication of measurable impact and validated business cases along the way. Too many people are not empowered to start something new. I consider the growth of this team as my greatest achievement not because it drove meaningful change, but also because it gave me the confidence to continue to challenge the status quo throughout my career.
What’s your biggest (as yet) unfulfilled ambition - and what are you doing to achieve it?
My biggest unfulfilled ambition is being able to contribute in a significant way to gender inequality issues around the world. Through various initiatives here in Canada, I have contributed to developing leadership and mentorship programs. I recognize the blessings of being born here and I am looking for a project to help build a better standard for equality for women in less fortunate circumstances.
What three words do you think your colleagues and peers would use to describe you?
Determined, passionate, curious.
Finally, what piece of advice would you give to young women starting their careers in the field of sourcing, outsourcing and procurement?
Don’t wait for someone else. Take on challenges and build your case by finding common values to influence those around you. When in doubt, find a mentor either within or outside of your organization to help you navigate. I came by some great advice recently by a senior executive that I am carrying around with me as a mini mantra for everyday business leadership: “Cool head, warm heart and why not.”