Lifetime of Achievement: Patricia Stroup

A Believer in Sustainable and Diverse Relations, and Advocate for Dairy Farmers, Patricia Stroup is Transforming the Sourcing Function at Nestlé

Dedicating almost 20 years to the transformation of Nestlé’s sourcing, Patricia Stroup is a leading and influential figure in not only the food and beverage industry, but the wide procurement function itself. 

“The last couple of years have really shown businesses the value of procurement — and not just as a purchasing function/PO function, but the strategy of procurement and the value we bring in managing risk,” says Stroup.

“The executive team has acknowledged the procurement team’s work in keeping product on the shelf, managing cost and managing inflation. I don’t think this is just Nestlé, this is across the board.”

With a long history in the dairy industry, Stroup grew up on a farm. “I’ve got a degree in dairy science, and I actually had my own dairy farm in my 20s and early 30s so I understand what they are facing,” she says.

Passionate about procurement, Patricia enjoys that procurement touches every single part of the business. "It is a true end-to-end function, so we have the opportunity to add value in so many places, both inside and outside our own company. We are also one of the most externally facing functions in business, so our ability to influence the world beyond our doors is incredibly inspiring. With my background in agriculture, of course, I am passionate about the work of our agricultural suppliers and farmers; but I also enjoy working in the ecosystem of supply beyond raw materials. Whether it is working with a dairy farmer in North America, a packaging recycling supplier in Africa, an ocean freight carrier in Europe, a marketing agency in China, or a construction company in Asia, skills like financial acumen, communications and leadership remain the same," says Stroup.

As CPO of Nestlé, Stroup leads the company’s cultivation of long-term and strategic supplier relationships, as well as its work with farmers to implement regenerative agricultural practices and support better conditions for farmers. 

Stroup says: “Coming to Nestlé was my first time working for a big public company. I was a bit nervous at the time, because I really wanted to stay connected to farmers, but one of the reasons I decided to come was because it has a unique connection to the farm community around the world.”

One of the things Stroup loves about Nestlé is the size and reach of the company giving it the ability to make a real difference. "There are so many fantastic initiatives worldwide that our teams are a part of, and I see my most important work is building the best teams--a thriving work community with the right people in the right roles where they feel enabled and empowered to bring their best every day through support, development opportunities, an environment of openness and excellence, and a lot of fun," adds Stroup.

Alongside her talented team, Stroup navigates the complexities of procurement risks, disruptions, negotiations and sustainability initiatives, as well as transforming the sourcing of key commodities for both Nestlé and the wider food value chain. 

“Our work has brought together priorities on social responsibility, sustainability impact, business results and building long-term partnerships. I’m a deep believer in forging diverse partnerships with a team of international experts, who I have the great pleasure to count as partners,” says Stroup.

In January 2023, Stroup became chairperson of the International Dairy Food Association (IDFA)’s Executive Council. The association represents the nation’s dairy manufacturing and marketing industry, supporting more than 3.2 million jobs. 

IDFA has a diverse range of members, from multinational to single-plant companies and dairy companies and cooperatives to food retailers and suppliers. All of which are at the edge of innovation and sustainable business practice. 

Commenting on her appointment: "With my history in the dairy industry, it was an honour to have been appointed as Chair of the Executive Council for the International Dairy Food Association (IDFA) in 2023.  It provides a valuable forum and opportunity to really work together to ensure that we are able to tackle critically important topics such as greenhouse gas reduction in a way that motivates and rewards all links along the supply chain."

Staying true to her roots, Stroup utilises her voice at Nestlé and IDFA to advocate for dairy farmers, striving for greater efficiency, sustainability and supplier diversity. 

“The dairy industry has its cycles like every commodity-based industry, based on supply and demand, it’s just economics 101,” she explains, “but I always say to farmers that I’m not here to win against you, you’re not my competition, you’re part of our team. We want them to win.

“We want to work with farmers to improve efficiency and sustainability, so we do on-farm assessments with our farmers covering everything from animal care and soil erosion to water quality and stewardship. But it’s not pass or fail, just a case of this is where you are now, and this is where we want you to go. They then need to come up with an action plan explaining how they are going to get there; it helps them become more competitive.”

Both diversity and ESG, whether among our suppliers or within its own teams, are incredibly important to Nestlé, and ultimately come down to the same concept: having care and respect for individuals, communities and the planet.

Stroup concludes: "It should go without saying that this extends to all people, regardless of our individual characteristics or experiences.  We succeed when we embrace these differences. We know that our employees are what makes our Procurement community so special. We need diversity to continue to grow, to learn, to challenge the status quo and to bring new and innovative ideas. Today, within Nestrade alone, we have almost 60 nationalities represented."


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