Ilka Baert (MBA 2015)

Embedding environmental responsibility within a supply chain: A case exploration of Thomas Pink

A Belgian national, having lived and worked in China and Sweden for IKEA and Sandvik respectively for almost 12 years combined, I recently graduated from the One Planet MBA Executive programme. To earn the famous hug and words of wisdom from Chancellor Baroness Floella Benjamin OBE DL, Hon DLitt at the graduation ceremony, I completed an exciting consulting project that enriched me personally as well as professionally.

By taking the MBA I aimed for the opportunity to explore the luxury industry and focus on making its complex supply chain more sustainable, as that has been my aspiration for some time. The University of Exeter had some excellent contacts in the sector and thanks to the enthusiasm of Jonathan Heilbron, Exeter alumnus and currently President and CEO of Thomas Pink, a high fashion brand within the LVMH Group manufacturing top class shirts and accessories, I received the exclusive opportunity to work on a project for them.

Thomas Pink suggested I focus on strengthening the environmental responsibility of its suppliers, one of their LIFE aims, short for the LVMH Indicators For the Environment.

In order to deliver “tailor made” results, I received their full support throughout the entire project. They financed a trip to London so I could conduct one on one interviews with the key members of their management team, including Jonathan Heilbron as well as Alexandre Capelli, Deputy Director at the LVMH Environment team.

Holly Browne, their Supplier Compliance Coordinator and my contact person, readily supplied me with any background material on Thomas Pink to understand the ins and outs of their achievements so far and together we issued a supplier questionnaire that provided us with valuable insights into the environmental challenges their suppliers face.

Key success factors include unwavering top management support, regular communication along with a tailored Environmental Code of Conduct for Thomas Pink’s suppliers and practical suggestions how to implement it effectively in its supply chain.

Through the project I received the amazing opportunity to visit Thomas Pink’s headquarters, meet some truly inspirational people who gave me new insights into the sustainability challenges and opportunities the fashion industry faces while applying the valuable knowledge learnt during the One Planet MBA. This first step into a new arena energised me a lot and with the right blend of preparation and a bit of luck I hope to continue exploring this route in the future. A big Thank You to all who made this possible for me!

Date: 15 March 2016

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