Krishna, could you tell us a bit of your background?
I have been with Barry Callebaut for the last 3.5 years as the head of direct sustainable sourcing and farm services operations in Africa. This meant being in the field a lot, so I have been really close to the cocoa value chain starting from the cocoa farm and the farmers. My specialization is farm to factory gate sourcing and distribution, including partnership building, developing sustainable sourcing and developing new markets. Formally I am a trained veterinary doctor, but professionally I have always worked in soft commodity value chains. I am a Sloan Fellow from the London Business School and also hold an MBA from India in Agribusiness Management, from the Institute of Rural Management. In total, I have 18 years of experience spreading across India, East Asia, Eastern Africa and West Africa.
What exactly does Head of Partnerships entail?
I will oversee all the sustainability programs that we are working on with customers, NGOs and donors. For example we are working with the Jacob’s Foundation on training farmers in good agricultural practices and with the International Finance Corporation on giving cocoa farmers access to financial credit. I will coordinate these programs with our teams on the ground, so luckily I am not going to be on my own.
Success for me are the conclusion of partnerships that are mutually beneficial, create impact on the ground and help us in achieving our Forever Chocolate targets.Ultimately, success is defined by having sustainable chocolate in 2025Krishnakumar Pillai, Head of Partnerships
Why is this role important?
There is so much that we cannot achieve by ourselves as Barry Callebaut, so partners are crucial in order to reach our Forever Chocolate targets. This is why we need to create a Forever Chocolate movement. We need to work together with all the key players in the cocoa sector, governments, NGOs, industry, customers etc. A big part of my role will therefore focus on identifying our key strategic partners and developing projects with them that will create real impact on the ground, be it on farmer trainings, creating access to finance for farmers or projects on reforestation to name just a few. I am really keen on driving this movement and open to work with anyone who has expertise and the drive to make sustainable chocolate the norm by 2025.Forever Chocolate is after all an open invitation for anyone who has a great idea.
What does success look like for you?
Success for me are the conclusion of partnerships that are mutually beneficial, create impact on the ground and help us in achieving our Forever Chocolate targets. Ultimately, success is defined by having sustainable chocolate in 2025. A big target, but with all the knowledge and resources available, we can make it.