4 Questions to… Maud Thuaudet and Thierry Fournier

11/04/2020

Maud Thuaudet is Vice-President Strategy for the Saint-Gobain Group. Thierry Fournier is Senior Vice-President Saint-Gobain and CEO, Latin America Region. Together, they talk about Saint-Gobain’s purpose, its implications for the Group’s growth strategy and for a more sustainable future.

Our purpose is our compass. How, in real terms, will it guide the Group’s actions?

Thierry Fournier: This purpose gives meaning at all levels in all the company’s businesses. It makes us more aware of why we work and to what we contribute. It helps us define where we need to focus our efforts and facilitates day-to-day decision-making. Today, we see the emphasis we place on the sustainable nature of our businesses as a very high priority because it reflects the Group’s commitment to achieving net zero carbon by 2050.

Maud Thuaudet: True, and it will allow us to go faster and further. Everyone will be able to ask themselves, “How do I contribute to our purpose?” “How can I go further in what I do?” For the Group, it means freeing up energy, and co-building with the solutions teams in the field.

Thierry Fournier: With our purpose clearly stated, we have given a name to the direction we had already started to take. Just a few examples: promoting drywall construction right across Latin America, our recycling efforts, the ongoing optimization of our formulas, ramping up the use of low-carbon energy, constantly reducing loss in our plants. Everything we do is directed at helping make the world a better home.

Maud Thuaudet: Regarding acquisitions, more than ever before, we will be looking at companies’ carbon footprints, their social policy, employee commitments... And how they contribute to our purpose. The same applies to Nova, which is in charge of startup relations.

Will the purpose be applied in the same way across all the regions where the Group operates??

Maud Thuaudet: No. That’s the beauty of this Group: it is up to each to adapt it according to their challenges. Europe will be very focused on environmental protection. It is obvious that in a country like India, social issues are crucial, perhaps even more so than sustainable development, despite that still being very important there. Each will be allowed to put in “Home,” their own definition reflecting their specific challenges.

How do you articulate growth and sustainability?

Thierry Fournier:?In fact, sustainable development is a huge growth driver for Saint-Gobain, and a healthy one at that. While it was a humanitarian and planetary issue in the beginning, it has become an inescapable market issue today. After all, it is what is driving governments and socio-economic stakeholders forward. The consumers, the market, each of us. There can be no growth unless we incorporate sustainable development into our day-to-day.

Maud Thuaudet: Yes. Our two growth pillars are sustainable development and performance. The one serves the other. By looking for sustainable solutions for our customers and ourselves, our plants and distribution outlets, we are heading in the direction of increasingly efficient solutions. By cutting back on our energy, raw materials and water consumption, by making lighter weight products co-developed with our customers, and by developing the circular economy. With each step, we become more competitive, more stand-out and better able to sell our products and solutions.

Thierry Fournier: We have a duty to reduce our environmental footprint and to contribute to solving the problem. We have the tools needed for that.

How do you prepare today for tomorrow’s sustainability? Will our purpose still be relevant in 20 years’ time?

Thierry Fournier: If I am honest, I think it is difficult to give an unequivocal ‘yes.’ But if your question was, “In light of our current world view, what preparations do we need to make for 20 years down the track, so ensure that the Group is more efficient and more sustainable?” My immediate answer would be that we are already doing just that. There is no doubt about that today. But we also have to adapt to the reality of the world around us. I mean, who would have thought six months ago that our world could have changed so fast?

Maud Thuaudet: I am convinced that our purpose will remain valid, because people around the globe believe innately in the climate change emergency, especially young people. Sustainable development is a fundamental trend that we are finding with all our customers and investors who increasingly want to know how our portfolio of solutions contribute.