Frank Thelen, Head of Governance and Procurement at thyssenkrupp Materials Services, is driving the green transformation at thyssenkrupp Materials Services from a central position.

Frank Thelen, Head of Governance and Procurement at thyssenkrupp Materials Services, is driving the green transformation at thyssenkrupp Materials Services from a central position.

Climate protection: Where do you start?

With globalization and more interconnected production processes worldwide, supply chains are becoming increasingly complex. With hundreds of players working together on different continents it is a mammoth task to make procurement processes more sustainable.

But this is precisely the task of Frank Thelen and his team. In the area of governance, they control the procurement processes in the company and establish general regulations that enable such control and probity: "These include, for example, procurement guidelines, process management procedures, and controls and review processes for evaluating the procurement process," he explains.


Supply chains in materials trading have many influencing factors that must be taken into account when planning sustainable supply chains: No easy task.

There are varieties of possible starting points when it comes to making supply chains greener. So where do you start? For Frank Thelen, it's clear that you can't lose sight of the big picture. "Thanks to my many years of experience in controlling, logistics, sales and purchasing, I am well placed to put the new issues and opportunities arising from climate protection into an overall context for thyssenkrupp Materials Services," says Frank Thelen. His task is to derive priorities for projects and measures from the mix of opportunities.

Save CO2 with digitization

The all-round digitized processes at Materials Services and continuous data collection are helping him and his team to do this: "Since we measure our CO2 footprint and know it in detail, we can use this transparent data to define general levers and develop individual action plans for materials trading at thyssenkrupp," explains Frank Thelen. This crucial step enables the team to identify and address levers within their own company and in collaboration with partners.
That's worth a lot, because many factors on the path to more sustainable supply chains, such as the global framework conditions, can hardly be controlled by the company itself. „Even if we could convert our truck fleet in the U.S. completely to electric mobility, there would have to be sufficient sustainable energy infrastructure in the country to enable appropriate refueling with green electricity," the expert explains.

To make supply chains sustainable, the emission levels of suppliers and sub-suppliers must also be taken into account. Only if all parties involved in a supply chain pull together can supply chains become truly green.


Pulling together, also in supply chain management

Another challenge lies at the supplier level. "Ultimately, the emissions of our suppliers are linked to us through the supply chain," explains Frank Thelen, "and thus indirectly our emissions. These so-called Scope 3 emissions represent a multiple of thyssenkrupp Materials Services' own emissions and therefore require special attention and optimization.

Frank Thelen is certain: "We won't be able to do it alone." His goal is to motivate others to follow the materials trader's path, or even better, to develop this path together. He is confident that thyssenkrupp can master this challenge as a green leader: "We have the size and attractiveness that others look to us and want to work with us. That's my understanding of a green leader."

Ready for the "new" world?

Although he deals a lot with directives and regulations in his day-to-day work, for Frank Thelen it's about more than just complying with law. "It's about giving thyssenkrupp Materials Services a firm place in a "new" world," the expert explains. "I believe that rethinking sustainable solutions will change the world just as comprehensively as the industrial revolution did."

For him, it's clear that as we move into this new world, transparency and efficiency will become even more important, and so will the digitization of supply chains. "It will become clear which technologies will prevail in transport logistics to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," the expert believes. "But for long-term success, we need to recognize that, fundamental things in this world are changing. If we don't go through our day-to-day jobs with an open mind, we'll miss these important opportunities." So, according to Thelen, in order to be well equipped to face the challenges of the next few years, you need a good mix of experience and a willingness to question the tried-and-true.

Sustainability as an opportunity for young professionals

For Frank Thelen, being able to work on such a topic, at a central position in a large company like thyssenkrupp Materials Services, is what makes his job so appealing. For young people and young professionals, he sees a very wide range of opportunities in sustainability: "There is a demand for different career profiles. Anyone who is interested in sustainability has a good chance of finding an exciting "green job".

Read more about green supply chains at thyssenkrupp Materials Services in our stories.