Givaudan International CPO on storytelling and embracing AI

4 December 2017

CPOs share their views on procurement's biggest issues

Willem Mutsaerts is head of global procurement and sustainability at flavours and fragrances company Givaudan International. As part of a series of CPO interviews being carried out by the CIPS Switzerland branch and published on SM, Mutsaerts shares his thoughts on how procurement professionals can get ahead and make a difference.

Here are three of his key lessons.

Tell a story

Procurement is often perceived as “just a support function” in many companies, but when done right it can bring so much value for both internal and external stakeholders. To maximise the chances of that, “it is critical to position [procurement] in the right way so you are able to tell a meaningful story about your activity,” says Mutsaerts. “It’s critical for the CPO to explain the role of the procurement and the value it can add to the business if we work more closely together.” 

His one overarching piece of advice for aspiring procurement leaders is: “Achieve maximum transparency and make sure you tell the right story across all levels of your organisation.” 

Start small with AI

Mutsaerts sees artificial intelligence as an opportunity more than a threat for procurement. “AI is a key enabler that can make the function much stronger and more mature,” he says. Givaudan is embracing AI and big data to develop complex algorithms for predictive analytics. It has also automated many processes “enabling us to achieve maximum transparency, reduce transactional complexity and improve performance of our people.”

Embracing cutting edge technology requires “a lot of dedication and commitment towards having your house in order”. Mutsaerts advises “moving in baby steps”, focusing on having the basics right and phasing in AI elements as a formula for success.

Manage uncertainty

Once the basics are right, CPOs need to shift their focus to managing risk and uncertainty, according to Mutsaerts. “Businesses are highly vulnerable to availability of raw materials and uncertainty are likely to increase during the next few years,” he says.

At Givaudan procurement has developed new forms of managing supply risks through predictive analytics, especially for ingredients that are exposed to unpredictable natural factors like the weather. 

This CPO interview is part of a series from Swiss-based global procurement leaders, carried out by CIPS Switzerland. Switzerland is home to some of the most successful multi-national companies and NGOs. CIPS Switzerland offers best practice events, workshops and networking opportunities.

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