Purchasing, partnerships & sustainability: Our Chief Purchasing Officer tells all

Filippo Milanese became our new Chief Purchasing Officer earlier this year, heading up a dynamic organization of more than 500 employees. We caught up with Filippo to discuss his role, his approach to partnerships and the focus on sustainability to be climate neutral across our value chain by 2050.

Tell us briefly what the Purchasing team is responsible for.

We are responsible for sourcing direct materials and components and indirect materials and services across the entire Group.  We also help to drive the company’s sustainability, quality, safety and efficiency agendas.

More than 75% of Electrolux Group’s product costs are handled by the Purchasing team – it’s a responsibility the team relishes.

You’ve been in the role since March 2022. What have been your priorities so far?

My aim is to support the team to become a world-class organization that continuously contributes to Electrolux Group’s strong drive for innovative, sustainable products and service solutions with the best value.

To deliver this, our agenda focuses on functional excellence, strong collaborations with internal and external stakeholders globally, and leveraging the scale of Electrolux to ensure the efficient ownership of materials and services purchased in any part of the world.

An area that we are also focusing on is minimizing the risks to business through these times of volatility, especially mindful of data security and technology.

We are widely regarded for being a sustainability leader. How does that influence decision-making in purchasing?

Sustainability is a key pillar for our work and has never been more important than now, during a period of intense global challenges. If Electrolux is to meet our target of having a climate-neutral value chain by 2050 then working with our suppliers to help them become climate-neutral is essential, while also constantly meeting quality assurance and safety requirements.

A key part of this joint sustainability work involves the reporting of operational impact through the third-party Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP). Adherence to this reporting is one of the ways in which we work closely with our suppliers, with many sharing their appreciation for this way of working together.

The success of this partnership approach has been recognized within the industry, too. Purchasing was recently listed on the Sustainable Procurement Champions Index 2022, along with some household names spanning many different types of industry, such as Aston Martin, Carlsberg, Lego, Levi’s, L’Oréal, Mars Wrigley and Nike.

Tell us about our approach to suppliers and partnerships.  

Our Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) program focuses on creating long-term partnerships with key suppliers, encouraging and supporting them to meet sustainability, safety and quality targets that are so important to our future. It’s testament to the success of this approach that most of our top suppliers have responded very positively.

Our ambition is to have long-term relationships with all of our suppliers and in 90% of cases, our working relationship goes back more than ten years.

Can you give some examples of our key partnerships and the benefits of your approach?

There are so many different elements that go in to creating and delivering a great product experience, from raw materials to transportation and so our portfolio of supply partners is very broad! As well as working with global players in the field of logistics we work very closely with technology, chemical, electrical and commodity providers.

When it comes to cultivating relationships with partners, long-term agreements are of benefit to both parties. This approach creates the mutual trust, understanding and support which means that together we can go the extra mile with sustainability, safety and quality and in keeping our supply chain running.  We’ve really seen the benefits of this over the past couple of years as the Covid-19 pandemic and geopolitical turbulence combined to make the global supply chain slow down considerably: we’ve been able to gain early, priority access to vital parts and products that perhaps we would not have had otherwise.

Why should someone pursue a career in purchasing?

Well, it is a key area of the business! It’s a fast-paced environment that is synchronized with global events and the impact of decisions that ripple around the world. There’s so much variety in what we do that no two days are the same and that’s what makes it so exciting.

Twenty years ago, when I started out in purchasing, we were looking for a buyer coming from an engineering university, but our ambition is to go beyond the traditional purchasing archetype to maintain and drive a team with a huge variety of skills and experience. Today, the team includes economists, as well as people with physics and psychology degrees. There are people from every kind of field because we are focused on building holistic relationships and a soft skills environment where autonomy is offered, along with many opportunities to learn and grow in a dynamic team.