2018 First Mover Fellow Marc de Schutter’s title, Senior Vice President of Sourcing at Danone North America, only gives you a partial view of his professional activities. That’s because at Danone, that role also oversees media spend—a unique combination that speaks to the company’s read on critical issues facing the industry.
It seems like your particular role is unique in that you straddle both supply logistics but also media spend. Is that truly unique—and does the combo tell us anything about serving consumers in the digital age?
I believe that combining procurement of Direct (Ingredient/Packaging) in the same team as Media/Marketing is indeed unique in the procurement world. Most companies only focus on Ingredients/Packaging procurement. The advantage of combining is that you can bring the sourcing story alive for the consumer through different channels.
We see more and more that, through digital media, the consumer wants to know how sustainable your sourcing is and is willing to buy your product in case of a real story. I think this combined set of responsibilities is a forward-thinking response to what’s ultimately the big question for the industry: How are you able as a large company to connect with the consumer? More and more, consumers are connected themselves and get input from everywhere.
How do you want to grow as a professional through participating in the fellowship?
The fellowship will help me to connect with a larger network and colleagues outside of our industry. Through sharing and learning I feel that more ideas will be generated allowing to move faster and further in our people, profit and purpose journey as a B-Corp Company.
What do you read, watch and listen for inspiration and insights in your career?
One of the most valuable readings I have ever done is ‘Culture Map’ from Prof. Erin Meyer. In the book, Prof. Meyer takes us through how, coming from different cultures, we can better work together without judgement in what is right and wrong. Very inspirational and practical reading that I use in my daily management. Another insight that guides me in day-to-day work: it matters where you define your point of entry into managing an issue. One tends to focus on the financials first hoping that the people and purpose agenda move along. My view is that you can enter a project from a purpose angle and will find out that very quickly the financial and people angle follow.
Two other books that have inspired me are biographies: Einstein: His Life and Universe, and Lee Kuan Yew: The Man and His Ideas, about the Prime Minister of Singapore. Both had clearly a vision of what they wanted to do. Even if that vision was difficult to understand for a lot of people, they persisted and today one can say that what they did has changed the way we look today to what they said. Einstein’s theory is being used today in science and computer technology, and Singapore became the richest nation per capita in less than 50 Years. Learning for me means: don’t hesitate to create a real breakthrough.