Knowledge Institute Podcasts
Abbey Road Sessions: Jonquil Hackenberg on Future Resilience
Jonquil Hackenberg, Managing Partner at Infosys Consulting, discusses future business resilience and profitability of sustainable supply chains. The discussion covers sustainability start-ups, sailing, talent and circular economy.
Hosted at Abbey Road Studios by Jeff Kavanaugh, Head of the Infosys Knowledge Institute. The podcast is a part of our special series on an important global topic, Achieving Resilience in the Stakeholder Capitalist Era.
“We just need to start thinking massively differently, looking at talent, but starting with how technology can enable that.”
- Jonquil Hackenberg
Supply chain focus has gone from efficiency to environment, and from the backroom to the boardroom. Jonquil shares a particularly poignant example in her studies of a company making a shift to resilient supply chains.
How Jonquil got into this business of sustainability, and how it's gone from a side thing for companies, to something being central?
Normally you think about resilience like risk management. How can you pair up resilience and sustainability?
What's the challenge facing businesses as they're trying to adopt resiliency? It sounds like it's a good idea. What's getting in the way?
Jonquil talks about circular economy.
Accountability for your end to end supply chain is really important. Jonquil gives an example of supply chain around shampoo.
Jonquil talks about the value chains and accountability and gives IKEA example
Jonquil gives another example that has more to do with talent, less with supply chains.
Now, when companies are doing this, what are the challenges they face when they're trying to get it done? So, let's say you've made these decisions, and they've got these metrics. What are the likely roadblocks they run into, and how do they overcome them?
Jonquil talks about the living organism metaphor, live enterprise and Infosys.
Sustainability and closed loop. Some people say, "Ah, it's too expensive. If we do this, there's no profitability. We won't be around." So how do you reconcile that, and address just those objections?
Jonquil shares her perspective on what's going on in Asia?
Jonquil is going to the World Economic Forum in Davos where the major theme is stakeholder capitalism. What are her perspectives as she heads over there, and what she hopes to achieve?
Jonquil shares what she loves about environment and sustainability. She talks about her sailing experiences.
What has been a major influence on Jonquil and how?
Jeff Kavanaugh: Supply chain focus has gone from efficiency to environment, and from the backroom to the boardroom. Jonquil Hackenberg has become a leading voice for sustainable supply chains, and studied this evolution firsthand. Jonquil Hackenberg, can you share a particularly poignant example in your studies of a company making this shift to resilient supply chains?
Jonquil Hackenberg: Sure, Jeff. So, if we look at the consumer goods industry as an example, we're looking at shampoo. Today, shampoo is being sold in plastic bottles, and it's out of sight, out of mind. That is now changing. Companies like P&G and Unilever and Nestle are working on a returns mechanism. So, designing very beautiful packaging for their shampoos in stylish metal bottles, for example, that can be refilled and recycled. And I think that's the evolution, the way we're going to see forward.
Jeff Kavanaugh: Great. And resilience is what we'll be exploring in today's conversation. Welcome to a special edition of the Knowledge Institute Podcast, a re-talk with thought leaders about achieving resilience in the era of stakeholder capitalism. I'm Jeff Kavanaugh, head of Infosys Knowledge Institute, and today we're coming to you from London's iconic Abbey Road Studios. We're here with Jonquil Hackenberg. Jonquil leads the C Suite Advisory Practice for Infosys Consulting in Europe, and focuses on the digitalization of the back office, specifically supply chain, operations, and organizations. Currently, Jonquil leads a strategy for all this means to the future of business and building business resilience. She's a regular contributor to Forbes, and a passionate advocate for sustainability, lifelong learning, and diversity within the workplace, and is a keen sailor. She loves to mentor ocean technology startups. Jonquil, thanks for joining us.
Jonquil Hackenberg: Thank you, Jeff. Great to be here.
Jeff Kavanaugh: First of all, let's explore how you got into this business of sustainability, and how it's gone from maybe a side thing for companies, to something being central.
Jonquil Hackenberg: So for me personally, as I've been a consultant for many years now, my focus has always been around delivering value. So, not just numbers and better results financially, but also value to the business. And value has started to take on a very tangible meaning, and that tangible meaning, I believe, is sustainability. There's a seismic shift that's happening, and has happened in the last two years, towards the triple bottom line. So, suddenly the drive of consumerism... The drive of the oil price crash, for example. The financial crisis. And then of course, environmental disasters that are coming thick and fast, in all corners of the Earth. All of these things are ripe to make a change in how we actually look at future and resilient business.
Jeff Kavanaugh: It's interesting, because I've known you for a while, and talking about business and value, sustainability has crept in. This idea of resilience, though. Normally you think about it like risk and risk management. How can you pair up resilience and sustainability?
Jonquil Hackenberg: That's a brilliant question. For me, looking at resilience is really about how can you still evolve and learn continuously as an organization? So yes, there's an element of risk. But increasingly, if we take the example of Brexit, is something that's really going to drive scenario-based planning. It's kind of your worst or best case scenario, depending on which side of the fence you're sitting on. And as a result of that, companies need to think how they're going to respond and evolve, in lots of different angles. It's not just risk. It's also opportunity. And for that reason, sustainability of organization, but also of the work and the workplace, is incredibly critical.
Jeff Kavanaugh: What's the challenge facing businesses as they're trying to adopt resiliency? It sounds like it's a good idea. What's getting in the way?
Jonquil Hackenberg: Technology and legacy applications is often a massive issue, as well as mindset. So, the thought in the past was, "We need to upgrade, and spend millions on our ERP systems," as an example. And most large organizations or enterprises have gone through the exciting rollercoaster times of doing ERP transformations. They know how much it costs, and they know how much it affects the organization. And so thinking differently, how you can be evolving more rapidly and responding rapidly, and based upon your learning and sensing, is something that is difficult from a mindset perspective.
Jonquil Hackenberg: So if you're able to reuse A, your technology landscape, and just overlay something that's more agile on top, that's really key. But also, that enables people to re-skill within the organization, so that they also can sense and adapt and learn and evolve. And this kind of concept of learning and evolving is really, really key to resilience in future planning.
Jeff Kavanaugh: A lot of this has been done in the past, though, but maybe more in a linear way, where it was one after the other, sequential. It sounds almost like, to borrow a metaphor, more circular feedback loops.
Jonquil Hackenberg: Absolutely. This idea of circularity, the circular economy, it's a term that is becoming increasingly understood and now known, and as a result of the circular economy, i.e., delivering back on both financial bottom line, but sustainable line, is really, really important. So, if you then apply that to your talent, but also to your resources in general... Whether that's your energy, or the resources you're using within your supply chain, or your landscape, both physical and digital... that's really, really key in order to be able to adapt and keep learning and evolving.
Jonquil Hackenberg: If we take a really simple example going back to a supply chain... As I mentioned already, around shampoo. Let's stick with the shampoo analogy. Companies used to make a bottle of shampoo, and they didn't care where it ended up. This idea that you need to take accountability for your end to end supply chain is really important, because consumers expect it. That means packaging, but it also means the upfront supply of provenance of product, and of course, the value and where, how people are being treated within the supply chain.
Jonquil Hackenberg: Now, if you apply that to talent, in the same perspective, it's really important that you're taking care of the holistic employee, which means that their health and well-being, that they are continuously learning. It's not just about financial recompense, which was the case in the past.
Jeff Kavanaugh: You know, I get that for a vehicle or a diamond, or something expensive. How do you do all this for a bottle of shampoo, that might cost a couple dollars or a pound?
Jonquil Hackenberg: It's thinking entirely differently. And so, you're right. It's volume, rather than value. But if you take the power of that volume, and convert that into a completely new line of business... So, you've suddenly got a supply chain that's involving an entire ecosystem. Imagine you're designing beautiful bottles of shampoo in metal cases. If you're returning those and repurposing those and refilling them, suddenly you're creating a new opportunity that didn't previous exist, not only for your own organization, but for other people within the value chain.
Jonquil Hackenberg: IKEA. Perfect example. They sell furniture that a lot of people have as students, and then as first time buyers of houses. They wanted to take accountability for their contribution to landfill, so they decided to create a new line of business that benefits everybody in their value chain. They offered to take back furniture that was no longer wanted. They refashioned it, and then they sell it as a secondhand piece of furniture. That concept means that not only are you addressing kind of landfill, but you're also creating new financial profits that previously didn't exist.
Jeff Kavanaugh: Very interesting. Do you have another example where maybe a company, one of your clients, has considered this like a major program? Like they're trying to adopt this? What are some of the criteria they go through, or decisions they make, before they can embark on this?
Jonquil Hackenberg: So, a really good way of looking at this... And I'll give you another example. Less supply chain, more to do with talent, actually. So, to do with talent and to do with employee. If we all think back to wherever we may be working. If we're working in large organization, you often have to call different people when things go wrong. So you've just joined your company, and you need to talk to HR about payroll and your next of kin, et cetera. You need to talk to facilities about your badge. Then you need to get a desk. You need to get a laptop from IT. All of these things takes a lot of time. So, re-imagining a much more holistic design of the place that you work... In this example, one of our consumer goods clients... means that they're thinking about the employee. They're putting the human at the center, and then joining everything up that a human or an employee needs to do in order to be more productive at work, is the main focus.
Jonquil Hackenberg: So, what I really like about this is they're taking the angle of, "How do we give more time back to an employee, so that they have freer time to think more freely?" And that's a very refreshing perspective, that I think we'll see increasingly in the workplace.
Jeff Kavanaugh: Yeah, I think there's a program that I remember. It was about the million minutes given back. Somebody's actually in charge of it. There was a case study when I was at Stanford. It was actually about the million minutes given back. That was the goal for the program, to employees. Now, when companies are doing this, though, what are the challenges they face when they're trying to get it done? So, let's say you've made these decisions, and they've got these metrics. What are the likely roadblocks they run into, and how do you see overcoming them?
Jonquil Hackenberg: Another good question. So, they're trying to join up these stories. Imagine the future as basically it's a story with a happy end, from where we are today. And in order to get to that pitch or the end of the story, that means you need to join all the chapters together. Those chapters are effectively different systems within the technology landscape. So, there's the technological integration of getting all those systems to talk to one another. Because typically today, going back to your point about linear versus circular, there's point to point integration, from a technology perspective. What you need to do to get the power of the information... Whether that's for your employee to say, "Oh, this is Jeff Kavanaugh. That person, this laptop, and this payroll is all one and the same person." In order to do that, you need to get point to point connections, and that means changing your entire dataset and your technology landscape, and overlaying something on top. That's one thing.
Jonquil Hackenberg: The other thing is that you're working with people who are in different organizations or business units within your enterprise, and so joining those people together to realize that story is a big challenge. So, what we find is really effective is using something like service blueprinting, which is basically the story that I mentioned, with bite-size chunks which are the chapters that you are delivering along the way. They're tied to both the technology landscape, and also to persona or people. They also talk about value, so every single chapter that's delivered is then delivering some kind of incremental value. That's really what I'm talking about, is of course agile deployment.
Jeff Kavanaugh: You mention agile. If we're playing around with synonyms here, you can think of it as flexible. It also reminds me, almost like it's a metaphor of a living organism, where things are very fluid, and there doesn't seem to be quite the sharp edges or point to point. Can you make any corollaries, draw any distinctions, from a company, and maybe this idea of a living organism?
Jonquil Hackenberg: Well, we could take Infosys itself. We are going through exactly the same challenges that a lot of our clients are going through, and we have lots and lots of systems that have developed and grown over time. How do you bring and collect data, and convert that to information? Right? So, what we're all looking for is information. Before, it was all about big data. Now we realize big data should be nothing other than information, otherwise we're just hoarding in a big house.
Jonquil Hackenberg: So, what we're doing internally is we're using what we call live enterprise, which is effectively how we envisage the future of work, and we are overlaying what we're calling, we're using knowledge graph technology, which overlays on to our existing systems of record. And the power of this knowledge graph is that it's connecting data no longer in a point to point fashion, but linked interchangeably, so that you can connect all the data points in one. The brilliant thing about this is, that means you can make real time decisions based upon a complete picture of the data that you have, rather than in isolation.
Jonquil Hackenberg: How we're delivering that to our employees is again in these bite-size chunks, based upon stories or user journeys, and we're delivering that in the form of apps. Those apps means that you can do basic things like time sheets and approvals and travel on the go, that previously just weren't possible.
Jeff Kavanaugh: Well, at least you didn't say you had to rip out all the legacy systems, and take the next 10 years in doing that, because we've seen how that ends. Well, great. Once again, you're listening to the Knowledge Institute, the Abbey Road sessions, where we talk with thought leaders on achieving resilience in the era of stakeholder capitalism. We're here with Jonquil, managing partner in Infosys consulting.
Jeff Kavanaugh: Jonquil, this all sounds good, especially the sustainability and closed loop. But what is... For those people that say, "Ah, it's too expensive. You can't have both. Both profits... You know, if we do this, there's no profitability. We won't be around." So how do you reconcile that, and address just those objections?
Jonquil Hackenberg: I'm going to go back to the IKEA example. So, IKEA had a problem, in the sense that they realized they needed to take accountability for their contribution to landfill. Very similar to Dell Technologies, or anybody who is doing with microplastics or chips, they're contributing to plastic in the ocean or metal in the ocean, or whatever it might be. So, rather than saying, "We need to embark upon a greenwashing PR exercise," meaning, "Let's do some PR and clean everything up, and hug some trees," they said, "Well, how do we turn this potential cost into an opportunity? How do we make the supply chain, rather than a cost in a back office enabler, how do we turn that into a profit machine?"
Jonquil Hackenberg: And so, if you look at it from that perspective, they've opened up IKEA Secondhand. So, not only are they selling new furniture, they're selling secondhand furniture, and as a result, they're doing good for the planet. That's extremely powerful, because it means that they're addressing both the bottom line and the top line in terms of profits, but the triple bottom line, in terms of environmental impact.
Jeff Kavanaugh: And who knows? Maybe they keep these customers a lot longer than they normally would have. They keep them as lifetime customers.
Jonquil Hackenberg: Exactly right.
Jeff Kavanaugh: That is interesting. You've given several examples of European and U.S. Any examples or any perspective of what's going on in Asia?
Jonquil Hackenberg: So, what Asia is focusing a lot on is twofold, really. One is very much around the front end, if you will, of the supply chain. So, of course a bit circular. Asia is really focusing on the start of the supply chain, from the perspective of provenance and ethics. So, ethics and reputation is driving a lot of what's happening. Traceability is really what we're seeing as an example of that. So, how do you address the fact that in southeast Asia, a lot of products "disappear," quote/unquote, when they move from one port to the other? There's challenges that products are often, or part of a load or of a shipment, are being siphoned off, so they're focusing on traceability and visibility of the products. I.e., where is it coming from? Is it arriving in the right weight, temperature, climate, et cetera?
Jonquil Hackenberg: But they're also starting to look at the ethics. So, in terms of the value chain, if we look at the clothing industry, there's a massive focus in clothing around, "Well, where are these products being made?" And if you look at, again, retailers such as H&M, you'll see this trend towards sustainable products. So they will have, you know, this is a product that's being sustainably made. Because a lot of clothes are made in southeast Asia, this is impacting brand reputation globally. So, in order to prove that no child labor has been used, no slave labor has been used, that the factories in which clothes are being made are hygienic and of the right standard, that people are being paid accordingly, consumer perspective and perception is incredibly key in this, and brand reputation and how you tie those two things together are very, very important.
Jonquil Hackenberg: So, that's really what I'm seeing as a trend in Asia, and similarly with there's a book called How Bad is Your Banana? That's like what is the carbon footprint of how far your banana has effectively traveled. Again, you mentioned it's very easy in high-value diamond industry to look at that kind of angle, provenance of product. But really around ethical supply chains, and the value chain of how your product arrives to you. That's really the focus that we need to look at for volume-based goods.
Jeff Kavanaugh: I know that very soon you'll be over in Davos for the World Economic Forum there, and the major theme is stakeholder capitalism. I understand you're speaking over there, as well. What are your perspectives as you head over there, and what you hope to achieve?
Jonquil Hackenberg: My objective really is to showcase and discuss with other world leaders how technology can enable a much more sustainability environment, and how it can fast track towards the SDG goals by 2030. That's really, really important. I also want to see how SDG8 in particular can be addressed. That's decent working economic growth for all.
Jonquil Hackenberg: So, we've talked a lot about the supply chain just now. If we just flip to the supply chain of talent, there's a big drive or expectation from organizations in the world to say, "I need to hire the same mythical thousand digital talent that doesn't exist," right? Because there just simply isn't that many people. Forgetting about the massive resource and wealth of resource that they have in the talent pool within their existing company. So, this whole idea of A, repurposing and re-skinning the talent you've got, but also, B, exploring in an organization and environment such as Davos, to have a wider perspective of what the talent pool actually is.
Jonquil Hackenberg: If you're able to tap into a previously restricted talent pools... For example, returning to work parents, or those who are physically or maybe mentally challenged, or those who live in difficult environments... If you enable, through technology, anytime anywhere working, suddenly your talent pool becomes much wider. And that's phenomenal for two reasons. Because you're giving, one, decent work and economic growth globally to people who wouldn't previously be able to come back to work, but it's also attracting diversity to the workforce, which means that it's bringing you closer to the consumers that you're trying to serve. And by diversity, I don't just mean women, which is often the thought. I mean pure diversity, across every single category, because it just means that we're able to tap into things that we've never seen before.
Jonquil Hackenberg: I'm very passionate about this, so I'll add one more thing. By doing that, you're then starting to see the world in a different light and a different perspective, which brings in new, fresh ideas, which then can drive new relationships within an ecosystem, but also potentially new lines of business. So, we just need to start thinking massively differently, looking at talent, but starting with how technology can enable that.
Jeff Kavanaugh: So moving beyond the circular metaphor for product, and also thinking it for people.
Jonquil Hackenberg: Absolutely.
Jeff Kavanaugh: And more of a virtual cycle. There's a saying that once you travel, or once you have had more diverse perspective, it's hard to go back to previous thinking. Well, speaking of this major influence, especially on... We'll just call it sustainability. Noted in a personal note that you are a sailor. Can you relate what you love about that to some of these concepts, as far as the environment and sustainability?
Jonquil Hackenberg: Absolutely. So, I've been sailing since I was 10 years old. I live in Berlin, and despite having been sailing for a long time, I'm currently trying to get my sailing license in Germany, because basically you need a license for everything. And so, you know. That's exciting, to be doing sailing theory in German, and trying to pass the theory exam. As an aside, I think what I like about sailing is the sheer freshness of it. When I'm on the water, I feel like I've been on vacation maybe for a whole week, even if I've been there for a day. It just gives you clarity of thought.
Jonquil Hackenberg: But you also realize it's... I sail dinghies, so I'm very close to the water. I'm not in the big yachts. And so, you realize the precious nature and fragility, actually, that we have in the world. And I think why I like the sailing angle... And particularly, I really admire Ellen MacArthur and what she's doing around circularity. I think it's phenomenal. It's like, how do you then protect those oceans that we so love sailing on, in my case, but going on holiday on, or using as a means of transportation in life around the world? And I think that's incredibly key. So, this is why I work with Catapult Ocean and their Ocean Tech Fund, that they invest in startups, that's touching all aspects of this. So, whether it's startups in sustainable fishing, or whether it's startups looking at electrification of boats... For example, there's a company called Evoy that does that... But they are also looking at the waste that fills the waters.
Jonquil Hackenberg: There's two very interesting startups that I am very passionate about. One's called The Ocean Bottle, and what they do is they collect the plastic that is destined for the ocean. So, they work with The Plastic Bank, which is a charity. They help street workers to collect the plastic before it even hits the rivers, and they recycle that to create beautifully designed and packaged drinking bottles that people can then use, which is an amazing, beautiful circularity concept. There's another one called Saathi, which is focusing on sanitation for women. It's an Indian startup, and they're using banana leaf fibers, which of course is entirely recyclable, for sanitation for women. And I find this whole wider concept, starting with water and the poor of what water can do... All of those things that you can go into, I think is just absolutely amazing. So, that's where my sustainability, sailing, everything comes together.
Jeff Kavanaugh: Fantastic. Well, I appreciate your time. I know you had some place you'll need to run to. As you start to wrap this up, maybe you could share, obviously, your passion about these topics? Who has been a major influence on you, and how?
Jonquil Hackenberg: A couple of people. So, one, Ellen MacArthur, for sure. Born in Derbyshire. She's a sailor, and moved to the south coast. I'm from the south coast of England, as well. Just her sheer determination to just anything is possible, I find absolutely incredible, especially from somebody so tiny.
Jonquil Hackenberg: There was another wonderful man that I met a few years ago in a German course. He's 80 years old, a chap called Peter from Tasmania. I met him in Berlin. He was a former professor at Harvard, and he was learning German with his 70-year-old wife, whilst living in basically a student accommodation in Kreuzberg in Germany, which is a bit gritty, and to keep the cobwebs away. And he helped review my thesis on sustainability for my MBA, [inaudible 00:24:17], and he threw so much passion and different angles around what this could do, and how sustainability could be a primary driver for industry 4.0. At the age of 80, still walking five kilometers a day. Still tending his land, which is five acres, every single day. I think he's phenomenal.
Jeff Kavanaugh: Wow. Inspiration for us all. How can people find you and find your work online?
Jonquil Hackenberg: The easiest way is to go to LinkedIn. I'm Jonquil Hackenberg on LinkedIn. And there there's links to Forbes, where I'm writing on a monthly basis, and to all other articles that we're publishing. I love to hear from people.
Jeff Kavanaugh: Great. You can also find details on Jonquil on our show notes and transcripts, at infosys.com/iki. That's I-N-F-O-S-Y-S, dot com, slash I-K-I, in our podcast section. Jonquil, thank you for your time, and a very interesting discussion. Everyone, you've been listening to the Knowledge Institute, the Abbey Road sessions, where we talk with thought leaders about achieving resilience in the era of stakeholder capitalism. Thanks to our producer, Yulia De Bari and the entire Knowledge Institute team. Until next time, keep learning and keep sharing.
About Jonquil Hackenberg
Jonquil leads the C-Suite Advisory practice for Infosys Consulting Europe which focuses on digitalization of the back office, specifically supply chain, operations and organisations. She has extensive cross-industry expertise in employee experience and digitalization of the HR function; global supply chain management and sustainability – and the organizational change effort all this entails. Currently Jonquil primarily works with Consumer Goods clients although she is brought into other industries as an expert in deep-seated organizational change for these areas. Jonquil is a regular contributor to Forbes and has represented Infosys on the BBC World Service.
A passionate advocate of sustainability, life-long learning and diversity within the workplace and as a keen sailor, Jonquil loves to mentor ocean technology start-ups; Jonquil lectures at the University of Applied Sciences in Berlin; head up the Diversity and Inclusion agenda for Infosys Consulting in Europe and; represents Infosys at the World Economic Forum Sustainability Summit on emerging technology in support of sustainable supply chains; sustainable workforces and work places.