We’ve got a very special guest for you this week. We are joined by Jo Mourant, a fantastic mentor and an expert in both procurement and sustainability.
In this interview, you’re going to read about:
- Information sharing and collaboration
- How a procurement professional saw a transition to sustainability as the best way to bring impact
- How getting involved in a mentorship program has helped Jo learn
- Why different skill sets can complement each other
Hey Jo, could you tell us a bit about your work?
Yes, of course. Let’s start with my role at Kingfisher. I look after social responsibility projects in our supply chain and I lead on human rights. For the supply chain projects, I work very closely with our responsible sourcing team and also the commercial team.
I started my career as a buyer and I think that was what made sense to me at the time. Sustainability wasn't really something that anyone discussed or talked about and I wasn't really aware of what that meant.
I started asking more questions and wanting to build an understanding of that relationship between commercial and sustainability.
My role now focuses specifically on looking at risks in our supply chain.
Can you give an example?
We have a project in Turkey, which we talk about in our sustainability report, looking at how we can help our workers outside the factory gates.
It involves understanding and working closely with the suppliers to help them meet their needs. So, as an example, helping them to 'upskill' their workers, and also giving the workers life skills, such as financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and an understanding of sustainability.
So, we talk a bit in that training about what they are doing in the factory. What is the company doing around sustainability? What does that mean for production processes? But also, at home in their own lives, what does that mean? We talk a bit about very simple things, like energy, water waste, those kinds of things. You know, at quite a basic level, but just around educating them in their own lives and in their work lives.
You have been on our mentorship platform for a few months. What’s the attraction for you to donate your time and energy to a mentee?
I think I'm a very collaborative person and that I can learn just as much from the process as someone else can learn from my experiences.
The lady that I'm mentoring has got an amazing skill set that's really interesting to me and she has worked in areas that I've never worked in. So, there's a sharing of skills and knowledge there, which I think is really important.
We all know that we need to make a difference, as we've got 10 years to 2030 and the SDG deadline, which is terrifying. The more we can share and learn from each other, the better. If I share what I've learned with other people and this helps them, and if I can learn from them at the same time, then that’s amazing!
How did you find your mentee?
I put my profile up on the Sustainability Mentors platform and after I registered, I got a very nice message from her. She looked at my skill set and my background and the fact that I'd worked in some larger organisations. Her background is quite different. So actually having that insight into both, like, buying or procurement and also sustainability, she wanted to chat.
How’s it going so far?
We're due to speak again next week, so we've had ad hoc conversations and I think we've both been very open. The way that it helps is that with the stuff she's working on, she's bouncing ideas off me, and there are some other people I've put her in contact with that could also help.
The important thing is the framework and understanding what is the purpose of the conversations. How can we best help, how can I best help?
For her, there's a specific project that she's working on, and I think it's helped. As she's working on that, and gathering information, she's kind of said, "Can I bounce some ideas off of you? What do you think of this?", and then I've also suggested other people, other businesses- that have more knowledge than I have about specific things.
Collaboration is more important now than ever to make rapid progress, right?
I think one of the things that I was astounded by, was when I went to an event before I started working in sustainability, and I was just amazed. I was like, "People in sustainability actually talk to each other from different companies? Wow." Like, "What?". That doesn’t happen in procurement for obvious commercial reasons.
If we are to really accelerate impact, then it's not business as usual. It's got to be ‘unusual business’, there has to be collaboration. Talking to competitors. Talking to the supply chain. Talking to your customers. Talking to strangers. Those relationships that didn't happen before, need to happen now.
I noticed that we had a flurry of sign ups from Kingfisher on our platform? Is this something that is being encouraged corporately? It is great leadership.
Definitely. I think there's always an opportunity for sharing, and I think obviously at Kingfisher, we're at quite an interesting time at the moment. I think that Kingfisher was looking to share stuff, to have conversations with people, understand what's going on. I think it's always having that balance of being inward-looking and outward-looking.
How did you find the Sustainability Mentorship platform, were there any hiccups?
No, it was super-easy to use, and actually I shared it with our wider sustainability team. I'm not sure if they all registered, but I did have a little five minutes in one of our team meetings and talked about it. They were really up for it.
Is there anything else you’d like to mention to people who are considering mentorship but haven’t taken the plunge yet?
I would say 100% do it. As I said, it's not just about sharing your skills with someone else, it's about learning from them.
My mentee, for instance, has experience in other sectors, and in other parts of retail, and industries, and consultancies, that I've not got. I’m learning from her perspective about how Kingfisher is coming across to people that don't know us. How are other businesses coming across? We don't know it all, and through collaboration, they might pick up on something that we've missed.
It's beneficial for both parties, and I think this is about collaboration, and moving us all toward the right direction together, rather than not.
Thank You for your time Jo. We really appreciate you sharing your story and Kingfisher for showing great leadership
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