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Inclusion and belonging is important for so many reasons – wellbeing, feeling part of the team, being able to perform to your best, innovation, feeling proud about the company you work for and plenty more.
Robin Sundaram,Responsible Sourcing Manager

With 26 years and 11 roles at Nestlé under his belt, Robin is currently our Responsible Sourcing Manager. He talked to us about how he helps create and deliver Nestlé's Procurement for Good strategy, and his focus on working with suppliers, all the way back to farmers, to improve our social and environmental impact.

What excites you most about your role and working for Nestlé?

I have a lot of autonomy to suggest and implement ideas to help Nestlé be a force for good. There are things that the company does that would surprise people externally. For example, I'm proud of the way the company has responded to world challenges like Covid and the Ukraine situation, through financial and logistical support for the International Red Cross.

What has been the best advice you've been given in your career? Do you have any top tips of your own for new starters?

One inspiring leader once told me that we should be hard on the problem, not the person. That's something I now live by. My top tips for new starters are "seek forgiveness, not permission" and that anyone can be a leader, it doesn't matter where you sit in the organisation.

The theme for International Women's Day 2022 is #BreakTheBias. Have you faced any biases in your career and how have you handled them?

Bias to me is about making judgements about people when you don't know them (both conscious and unconscious). I haven't openly encountered any serious barriers, but there have definitely been situations when someone has been preferred over me, when it hasn't been clear why the decision has been made. I am sure there have been times when my colour has been the issue. I try to inspire others by role modelling – I go out of my way to include people, especially those who are quiet.

Are you involved with any of Nestlé's inclusion and belonging initiatives?

I'm a member of both the Eradicating Racism Network and Nestability. I also lead our Procurement approach to working with more diverse suppliers. Inclusion and belonging (I&B) is important for so many reasons – wellbeing, feeling part of the team, being able to perform to your best, innovation, feeling proud about the company you work for and plenty more.

Is there anyone that inspires you, either personally or professionally?

At Nestlé and previous companies I have had a few inspirational managers. Externally, I have been inspired by my extended family (who escaped civil war in Sri Lanka to rebuild their lives in the UK and other countries), Mick Jackson (CEO of social enterprise, Wild Hearts) and my parents (RIP).

What has been your proudest moment at Nestlé?

There have been a couple: persuading the business to bring Wild Hearts on board as a significant partner, and our Milk Plan with our dairy farmers – which I've led from the beginning and is now seen as best in class around the Nestlé world (and by our farmers).

What one thing would you like to see more people doing to be more inclusive?

Having more open conversations. Sometimes we need to get things wrong to make things better.