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Exclusive interview: Kearney’s Kate Hart on high ESG demands

Kate Hart

Is procurement attempting too much with the ESG agenda? Is a net zero target by 2050 actually achievable? PASA recently caught up with Kearney’s Kate Hart to discuss high ESG demands, ahead of her highly anticipated keynote address at the upcoming 11th Annual PASA Premier Confex.

Based in Melbourne, Kate is a partner at Kearney – a leading global management consulting firm operating in more than 40 countries – and leads the ANZ strategic operations practice, where she’s been for almost 10 years collectively.

Additionally, she has authored numerous studies and white papers, and currently co-leads ESG in APAC, as well as being the APAC Kearney spokesperson for sustainability.

Kate has advised companies across a range of industries, with a focus on consumer & retail, industrials and telco.

Within these sectors, she brings extensive operations and transformation experience, specialising in operations improvement, business transformation, supply chain management, procurement and business process redesign.

“I am a natural problem solver and have a strong affinity for making things ‘real’ – it is in my DNA and something I really enjoy,” Kate says.

Kate will be sharing over 20 years of knowledge on 18th October at the region’s most influential procurement conference with a keynote on ‘demystifying procurement and sustainability’.

During this insightful half an hour address, Kate will cover three key areas, including defining sustainability for procurement, the pivotal role of procurement and real-world success stories.

To give PASA’s readers an exclusive taste of what you can expect from Kate’s keynote at Confex, we pose the questions everyone wants to know the answers to…

“Procurement is where the rubber hits the road for delivering on the ESG agenda,” Kate says.

But is procurement attempting too much with the sheer breadth of the ESG agenda on the supply side?

“This isn’t about attempting too much, this is about elevating the role of procurement and building the capabilities to deliver on what is required,” Kate explains.

“Never has it been a more exciting time to be in procurement. Teams have the mandate to drive value and outcomes beyond what we have seen over the last decade.”

What do you believe are the real priorities on the supply side under the ESG banner? Are we focusing on MSA? Net zero? Indigenous vendor support? Buy local? Gender diversity?

When the list is so extensive, which is most important?

“Leading procurement teams are delivering on all aspects of the ESG agenda,” says Kate.

“The prioritisation and focus depends slightly on the corporate ESG strategy, which is largely influenced by the broader stakeholder groups and the sector for each corporate.

“The choice at a corporate level isn’t about which one, it’s about where do we want to lead vs where do we want to follow. The procurement teams then need to support the delivery of that agenda and cooperate with other business functions to deliver on the full agenda.”

So, is a net zero target by 2050 under scope 3 actually realistic? How can local procurement in Australia influence far up the supply chain into China and Asia?

Kate points out that “we aren’t debating the science anymore and know that if we want to keep warming below 1.5C, this is what is required,”

“The challenge, as you rightly point out, is in the execution. Scope 3 is very tough, but for many organisations this accounts for approximately 80% of their emissions, so is too large to ignore.

“Working with suppliers, collaborating and sharing levers, and investing in innovation are some key initiatives we are seeing procurement teams drive,” Kate adds.

Which leads us to the ‘G’ in ESG. Is it too easily forgotten or overwhelmed in procurement by the ‘E’ and the ‘S’?

Kate admits “we’ve seen some significant issues in the Australian context regarding failures on the ‘G’.

“Ensuring that focus is maintained on ‘G’ ensures that organisations can meet basic societal expectations – which arguably are increasing at an accelerated rate,” she adds.

As Kate puts it “procurement teams are critical in managing the interface with externals and ensuring that these expectations are met.”

See Kate and a host of other high-profile keynote speakers at the 11th Annual PASA Premier Confex in Melbourne on 18-19th October. Get your tickets here.

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