Logistics Manager Mars Inc
For more than a decade, Kate Wylie has driven sustainable development within a range of big-name businesses, including Mars Drinks and eBay. She now reports directly to Barry Parkin, the chief sustainability officer of Mars Inc., where she heads the development of the company’s sustainable sourcing strategy. Mars Inc.’s six business segments include pet care, chocolate, Wrigley, food, drinks and symbioscience.
Here, Wylie discusses how one of the world’s biggest cocoa buyers can reduce its impacts while helping to solve some of our most dire social and environmental challenges.
Maya Albanese: When and how did you start working in sustainability?
Kate Wylie: Throughout my whole career, I’ve worked in some form of sustainability. I started out working for smaller businesses with social missions and then moved into larger corporations. Back when I was in university, there weren’t jobs titled “sustainability, ” so I had to do a lot of research to find out where I could work in it. My first job was at a company that did carbon offsets, engaged people and raised awareness about environmental issues.
Albanese: How did you move into your current sustainability role?
Wylie: I started as the global sustainability director for the Mars Drinks division. I developed its sustainability strategy, which included the company’s wider sustainability perspective - how the business operates, how all our raw materials are sourced and how to engage customers and associates on that journey. There I spent a lot of time focusing on coffee supply chains, which progressed into the sustainable sourcing strategy for all of Mars’ supply chains.
Albanese: How do apply your educational background to your current work?
Wylie: My economics degree also included classes on social anthropology and environmental economics. From this, I learned that business can be profitable and be a force for good in the world. As we embed sustainability into our businesses, we need to think about accounting and financials, and must understand how forces such as supply and demand work.
Albanese: What are your top responsibilities in your current role?
Wylie: How do we spread economic prosperity, and how are we going to feed the 7 billion people on this planet? My role is to think through how Mars can address some of these global challenges through its business practices. We create internal governance structures and also work on external communications around sustainable sourcing, including our "Principles In Action” summary.
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