Forging a new course with suppliers

Stephanie Bertels speaking at FORGE 2020
Stronger together is not only a value we embody within our company, but with our partners as well. Suncor’s suppliers are an important part of our business, and critical to our success – especially during the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic challenges we’re facing.

We have seen exceptional collaboration from our suppliers, including Microsoft which helped transition our company to Microsoft teams to help our people keep working and maintain social connections while keeping physically distant. There’s also the Syncrude team that reached out to share costs on hand sanitizers they were sourcing from a distillery on the East Coast. This is all while we work closely with WestJet to ensure our fly-in fly-out team get to their working locations safely.

Working differently as partners and strengthening our relationships is key to our joint success. New conversations, like the ones we are having during these demanding days, help us see opportunities and work innovative solutions so we are stronger together.

Earlier this year, we brought together our strategic partners at the first FORGE event, one of the last physical gatherings in the energy sector before the COVID-19 pandemic. Suncor brought together key partners for a new conversation about how we can work together differently.

“FORGE brought together key suppliers and partners, including our Indigenous suppliers and communities, that support Suncor’s business,” says Joe Vetrone, senior vice president, projects, supply chain & field logistics. “It was about new solutions, renewed partnerships, and forging a new path forward.”

The discussions not only challenged Suncor to think differently, but it also set the stage for efforts to co-create a strong future, accelerate innovation and inspired new ways of thinking about energy transition challenges and opportunities.

For instance, can a utility bill from 1915 describe the issues we face in our energy ecosystem today? Peter Tertzakian, executive director at the ARC Energy Research Institute, gave a provocative presentation about the history of energy transitions. He told a short story about how the search was raging in 1915 for cheaper, safer, cleaner, and quicker ways to supply the energy needs of the day. This message is just as relevant today, more than 100 years later.

Peter compared Suncor to being at a similar crossroads to another time in history when sailing companies were driven to innovate and create new generations of valuable boats while steam ships arrived on the scene. We too must leverage innovation and technology to be strategic and reinvent how we continue to contribute value to the energy ecosystem and society.

“Suncor is being an influencer, challenging us and challenging the supply chain to move down the path,” said Norty Turner, senior vice president of services at United Rentals. “Enormous momentum will come out of this conference, but the challenge is the follow through.”

As Stephanie Bertels, founder and executive director of The Embedding Project, pointed out, “there is so much potential, if we just take a different lens.”

When we forge down a new path, anything is possible.