As he settles into his newly-expanded role of Chief Procurement & Sustainability Officer, Tony Milikin talks renewable energy, why it matters and his big dreams of building a company for the next 100 years and a #BetterWorld.
Why was it important to make sustainability a part of your role?
As Chief Procurement Officer, it made great sense to take on a dual role and lead AB InBev’s sustainability agenda. This shows our commitment to embedding sustainability into our core business. For me, this approach is more effective than having sustainability initiatives taking place in isolation or at the periphery of our business.
As a result, we now have cross-functional teams working on initiatives across energy, water, agriculture and packaging. This helps us connect the many dots of sustainability, and improves the way we communicate and share best practices. Our new commitment to secure 100% renewable electricity globally by 2025 is a great example.
Do you have a ‘big Dream’?
My dream is to build a more compelling business case for sustainability. I want to help scale our efforts to innovate, create shared value and demonstrate that ‘doing well’ and ‘doing good’ go hand in hand. I dream that this will help us attract and retain the best talent; create a growing world, where everyone has the opportunity to improve their livelihoods; and ensure a cleaner world, where natural resources are shared and preserved for the future.
What do you say when people ask about our investment in renewable electricity?
For one, it makes economic sense because the input costs are free; every day the sun comes up and the wind blows! Plus, the costs in the investment go down year over year. It also makes business sense for our consumers. For instance, millennials want more from companies and expect more – especially when it comes to sustainability.
Personally, as a baby boomer, my generation generally consumed water, air and energy as if they were infinite commodities. But today we recognize we must do better for our children and grandchildren, to leave this earth better than when we arrived.
Why do you believe our company can achieve these goals versus others?
Simple; with our culture of ownership and track record of collaboration, we can address significant environmental and social challenges faster and better than our competition or other consumer packaged goods (CPGs) companies. Many are targeting getting to 100% renewable between the years 2030 to 2050. We have plans to be 100% globally by 2025.
How does renewable electricity make a real difference in people’s lives?
Renewable electricity reduces our carbon footprint in all the countries where we operate. Even more important is how access to energy can change people’s lives. It creates freedom in so many ways. It can be used to help clean water, which is essential to health. It helps irrigate crops, which feeds the hungry. Electricity lights homes and schools and hospitals – making a difference in education and medical services. Not to mention, Wi-Fi, computers, smartphones and all the advantages those things can bring to a developing community.
Last question: You have a lot of passion for this topic. Why?
Because we all live here together – our colleagues, families, suppliers and customers. We want to be a vibrant company for the next 100 years – so why not plan for it? It’s not just about thinking of tomorrow, it’s about planning for the next generation. We have the scale, resources and passion to do it, while growing our business. It’s an exciting time for all of us.