Sustainability 'not the enemy of profit', says Capgemini

Capgemini Global Retail Lead Lindsey Mazza on how a systems engineering background is helping her service the supply chain needs of value chain customers

Your professional background?

I started my career in systems engineering and, over the years, have expanded my solutions to include everything from supplier to consumer. 

I currently work with leading retailers to reimagine how they fulfil consumer promises. An exciting part of my role is leveraging AI, analytics, and emerging technology to reinvent operations and meet consumer expectations. 

What are the challenges of your Capgemini role?

I help retailers navigate today’s many challenges and transform their businesses. I rely on my systems engineering background to research and learn where opportunities exist, then collaborate with our immensely talented teams to deliver solutions that drive business outcomes. 

That might be creating intelligent, adaptive supply chain ecosystems, fulfilment options, unlocking channel growth, underpinned with technology and analytics that deliver personalised and engaging consumer experiences. 

How can retailers counter rising operational costs?

Automation, AI, and other leading technologies can make all the difference, and I am seeing the benefits with our clients. Data and analytics, AI, and automation in product and supply chain planning processes – not to mention that last-mile consumer fulfilment can support optimised costs – maximise use of labour, and further sustainability objectives. 

For example, analytics can be used to reduce inventory, identify underperforming areas, and recommend solutions to increase efficiency. Using real-time data and intelligent integrated planning, consumer products companies and retailers can customise the right assortment mix, and have the right inventory for each store or channel.

And autonomous vehicle delivery – although early in development – could transform the last-mile delivery cost model. 

How can firms best develop sustainable products? 

Sustainability can be embedded throughout the entire product lifecycle, starting from the design process and selection of materials to end-of-life management. 

To address Scope 3 emissions, businesses need to consider the system as a whole. It’s also important to conduct a life-cycle assessment to evaluate the environmental impact of a product – from raw material extraction to disposal – to identify areas where the environmental impact can be reduced.

Can retail be sustainable and affordable in today's world?

Definitely, and it must be. Retailers need not sacrifice affordability or profitability to meet their sustainability goals. Our own research shows 41% of consumers globally are willing to pay more for a product they believe to be sustainable. 

So, while consumers are keen to buy sustainable products, they are not willing to pay more. Brands and retailers must respond to consumer concerns by keeping prices fair – providing affordable sustainability will therefore be key. Consumers are also conscious about reducing waste and mindful about consumption practices. Retailers embracing circular economy will create a brand ethos that matches the ethics of the consumer.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

I’ve had tremendous leaders and mentors throughout my career. There are two lessons I’m so grateful to have learned from them:

  • Always, always, always take the more challenging role, because you’ll learn more. I’ve built a view across the supply ecosystem by taking unexpected roles where I was able to learn. 
  • Create your next job. We can all see areas where our companies can improve. Design that role, develop a benefits case for why that role will create value, advocate for it to be in next year’s budget, and get that role.

Who inspires you?

I’ve always been inspired by the artwork of MC Escher. His work changes one creature or shape into another and forces you to look from a different perspective – it encapsulates transformation through maths. What more could a supply chain strategist want, other than mathematically-derived ecosystem transformations?

The art of MC Escher
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