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Sustainable sourcing spotlight, conversations with Jane

Materials.Business Newsletter ⚙️ April 04th, 2024

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Podcast Guest: Jane Zhang

In this episode of Material Business, we delve into the transformative realm of sustainable procurement, exploring its evolution, impact, and strategic implications. Our guest, Jane Zhang from ETCH Sourcing, shares insights garnered from her extensive experience in procurement and sustainable practices. From the early days of tactical cost analysis to the current era of strategic sustainability, we have navigated the shifts and advancements shaping the procurement landscape over the past four decades.

Procurement has traversed a remarkable journey over the last 40 years, transitioning from a focus on unit cost analysis to a strategic perspective encompassing service value and supplier collaboration. Today, the emphasis is on sustainable procurement, where considerations extend beyond organizational costs to encompass environmental and societal impacts. By integrating sustainability into procurement processes from the outset, companies stand to reap numerous benefits throughout the supply chain lifecycle.

Early adoption of sustainable procurement practices allows companies to identify and mitigate risks associated with environmental and social issues, safeguarding operations and brand reputation. Moreover, it leads to long-term cost savings through resource efficiency and operational improvements. Beyond financial gains, embracing sustainability enhances a company's reputation, fosters innovation, and cultivates customer loyalty and investor confidence.

Collaborative efforts with suppliers to develop sustainable solutions drive innovation and continuous improvement, positioning companies at the forefront of industry evolution. By aligning sustainability with business objectives and embedding it into procurement strategies, organizations can achieve resilience, competitive advantage, and long-term success. The journey towards sustainable procurement represents not only a commitment to environmental and societal welfare but also a strategic imperative for business growth and viability. Structurally, similar concepts apply across different types of companies, whether they are service providers or deal with physical products. However, the application of these concepts may vary based on the specific cost and emissions drivers inherent to each type of organization. For instance, while professional services may focus on reducing carbon emissions from travel, goods and materials organizations may prioritize sourcing sustainable inputs and energy sources.

A crucial aspect highlighted in the discussion is the importance of celebrating successes and reporting the broader benefits of projects beyond just financial gains. By quantifying the environmental and societal impacts of procurement initiatives, organizations can better communicate their efforts and inspire further action towards sustainability.

The conversation also delves into the entrepreneurial journey, emphasizing the value of passion and flexibility in driving success. Taking the leap into entrepreneurship requires self-awareness and a willingness to embrace failure as a learning opportunity. Despite the challenges, pursuing one's passion can lead to a fulfilling career that transcends mere financial gain.

In summary, sustainable procurement transcends traditional cost considerations, offering organizations a pathway to resilience, innovation, and competitive advantage. From mitigating risks to enhancing brand reputation and driving cost savings, the benefits of integrating sustainability into procurement processes are far-reaching. By embracing sustainability from the beginning of the procurement cycle, companies can foster a culture of innovation, strengthen supplier relationships, and align with evolving consumer and investor expectations. As we navigate the complexities of the modern business landscape, sustainable procurement emerges as a strategic imperative, guiding organizations towards a future of responsible and impactful procurement practices. In closing, the importance of collaboration and collective action in addressing complex challenges like sustainability is underscored. By working together and taking incremental steps towards common goals, organizations and individuals can contribute to meaningful change and create a more sustainable future.


Jane is the Co-Founder of ETCH Sourcing, a Canada based consultancy specializing in providing services in managed procurement and category management, sustainable procurement operationalization, digital and process enhancement, and training and onboarding. She loves people, solving problems, and has years of expertise working throughout the entire sourcing spectrum, from building and executing multi-million-dollar tactical strategies, to being entrusted with some of the most complex and strategic contractual negotiations involving hundreds of millions of dollars. Graduating from the Haskayne School of Business twice over with a Bachelor of Commerce in Marketing and an MBA in Finance with a focus on Global Energy Management and Sustainability, she is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Sustainable Procurement adoption as part of her passion to champion the role of sustainability in procurement. 
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Evento con la Universidad Simon Bolivar - participacion: virtual -

Let's celebrate Corrosion Awareness Day with the WES (Women in Engineering Summit) powerhouse - RSVP below!

We will be chairing the session: Materials and Corrosion Management for a Sustainable Thank you to everyone who submitted abstracts (we got more than 200) - more information on the sessions will be posted here - stay tuned!

We partnered with the Women in Engineering Summit (WES) and there are already 3 initiatives on the go with them - SDG17 at its purest. Stay tuned to learn more about them and participate in the summit in June 2024.

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