LS International speaks with Joanna Allen, Global Vice President for Hellmann’s at Unilever on the importance of a diverse workforce for successful employee attraction and retention. Joanna discusses diversity and recruitment, exploring ‘gender and sexuality, but also diversity in terms of mental processing styles, kind of different strengths and different experiences from geographies.’
During the podcast, we speak with Joanna on the following points:
Working with diverse groups of people.
The effect diversity has had on recruitment.
Unilver promoting female leadership.
The biggest challenges for business over the next 5 years.
Lauren: Hi I'm Lauren Stiebing and welcome to this episode of the career success podcast. Today we'll be joined by Joanna Allen, the global vice president for Hellmann’s at Unilever. Joanna is an instinctive marketer who relishes a challenge and who performs best under pressure to deliver transformational impact. She has a high capacity to learn which provides her with a foundation for crafting a compelling vision for the future. With a breadth of experience and food and beverages as a global and local marketer, Joanna thrives in environments that foster diversity of perspective and demand high levels of productivity. Welcome Joanna.
Joanna: Thanks Lauren, great to be speaking with you today.
Lauren: Thank you for joining us. So basically, having worked across multiple markets globally, working with diverse groups of people is something that you must know very well. What are some of the benefits that this has had on your career?
Joanna: Yeah, so certainly in roles that I've had both at Coke and Unilever, I've had the opportunity to work in roles with global scope and through this have got the privilege of partnering with an incredibly quite diverse group of marketers from developed and emerging markets, addressing quite distinct challenges and that diversity of perspective is something I've realized that I've appreciated as far back in fact when I was studying my degree at London School of Economics. That's one of the UK's geographically most diverse Universities. So, I certainly had an appreciation for it for a long time. I think from my personal career it's really made me appreciate more I would say matrix style career paths rather than kind of hierarchical ones. And so for each role I've considered as I've developed through my Career, I've always ask the question what new learning experience does this present and then what kind of unique experiences or capabilities do I bring that will add a kind a differentiated value to the role versus potentially the other candidates.
Lauren: And has this had any effect on your recruitment strategy at all?
Joanna: For sure. Earlier this week actually I was reading Wendy Clark’s article in campaign ahead of her chairing the Glass Lions jury at Cannes and she talked about nurturing mosaic teams and that was something that really resonated with me; with my own approach. And as I think about the team's I’ve lead, I've had the opportunity to recruit and work with talented marketers who represent diversity across so many dimensions. And of course gender and sexuality but also diversity in terms of mental processing styles, kind of different strengths and different experiences from geographies. I think it's easy to recruit people based on kind of natural affinity.
Joanna: But I think I would challenge a team that all kind of thinks the same way or operates the same way to really deliver transformational business ideas as they kind of say “you need a bit of grit to form a pile”. I'm a big believer in terms of actually some of that diversity can really challenge a team and make it operate at a high level.
Lauren: Sure and I know Unilever is the company that highly promotes female leaders. How do you think other companies can continue to bring diverse initiate to the forefront?
Joanna: Yeah! It certainly is and I think under Aline Santos’ leadership there’s a really strong diversity and inclusion agenda at Unilever. I think two things stand out for me when I think about the actions that other companies can take to drive the diversity agenda. I think the first is around ensuring an active mentoring program. It doesn't have to be a formal program but I think somewhere that is encouraged. If you think about the role that you can play in an organization of helping somebody reach greater heights. I think I'd say that's one of the most powerful contributions a leader can make. The second thing that I think is really important is shining a spotlight on the role models. I think there's enormous value if you can identify with someone who's forged a path similar to one that you want to take. And whilst we all aspire to be pioneers sometimes is easier if you've seen someone tread that path in front of you. I think that's easier for some organizations or even within organization, some functions more than others but I think if you don't have the opportunity to showcase great female talent internally, there is always the opportunity to show that talent outside of your organization. I think that the time now is for action rather than just talking and so I would encourage organizations to take those first even small steps today rather than considering you know talking and acting less.
Lauren: Sure. I know as well you know even from managers or mentors you know more senior people that you're working with it's always good to get some feedback. I wanted to ask is well what is the best feedback you ever been give?
Joanna: Interestingly as I think about the best piece of feedback I've received it's not coming from a colleague or a boss in the work environment. It actually came from a medical professional
Joanna: So, if you'll indulge me a little, when my son was born, he was born with a limb deficiency essentially he’s missing a hand on one of his arms and that was discovered quite early on in my pregnancy and so obviously we sort out a team to make sure that we have the right support for James once he was born. There was an amazing professional called Dr. Colleen Coulter who shared with me that I would be amazed at how adaptable James would be with what we felt was a quite a significant challenge. So I think, I mean, it certainly helps he's a very determined little boy, but as I went through that experience actually it challenged my leadership style at work as well. I really try to coach more rather than direct my teams. I’m an absolute advocate of teams asking for forgiveness rather than permission, and then, from a personal perspective, I think in the face of constraint or challenge I think about how I can be adaptable to a situation, rather than just get frustrated so we can always learn a ton of things from our kids and sometimes the teams that support them as well.
Lauren: Yeah, that's great. Well, as well let’s shift a bit just to discuss the FMCG food industry. I wanted to ask as well, what are the biggest challenges that your business will face in the next five years.
Joanna: Yeah, I think it's a challenge that is not unique to foods but in many respects food because food culture as in so much at the forefront of culture I think it's a challenge that is facing foods as much as anybody else.
Joanna: I think it's the opportunity and the challenge that comes from mass segmentation. And so whether that's about how we reach out and engage with our consumers, or say that the fragmentation of channels that consumers can purchase our products or even kind of the opportunities as we understand more about DNA for micro personalization. I think this is demanding a massive transformation of how people do business. And arguably that's tougher, it’s a tougher challenge on the more largest established companies I think, than sometimes it is of the small local businesses.
As I said it's a challenge but I think it's also an opportunity and I think the benefit of working with a very sort of future facing organization like Unilever is that everyone recognizes the need for change.
Joanna: And so, you know, just a couple of examples I think of how we are already kind of responding to that challenge, you know, because I look at How come we’re challenging ourselves to make sure our brands a fit for purpose within the eComm channel.
Joanna: Adopting platforms like Celtra or Google's Vogon platform which are now enabling you know mass customization of relatively simple pieces of content that can then be deployed from a programmatic media perspective. So, I think it's certainly a challenge. I think that they were taking some of the steps to make sure as a business that we’re fit for the future but certainly one that will transform what our organization looks like and many organizations over the next five years.
Lauren: Sure. And, I mean, there's a lot of discussion as well around the political state at this moment globally we've entered into a new age of political extremism. Do you think businesses can be a bigger force for good in society?
Joanna: Absolutely. And frankly, it's one of the many reasons I joined Unilever, it’s one of the many reasons many people join Unilever. From its very foundation Unilever is a business that talks about value and values, so the perspective that we can have this kind of compounding growth model that benefits all stakeholders not just investors. I think in the context of political extremism, I’ve had the opportunity to spend time with the Edelman team who led the trust barometer and there some great information about that online even if you don't what with the Edelman team directly and I think it was really interesting to see that, you know, in the context of the political situation that we're all operating in you know in business actually is secondary to NGO’s in terms of levels of trust. While government continues to kind of be really significantly challenged, it’s exacerbated.
I think that the new context that were operating in, certainly something that people have been a lot of dialogue over and that in the last year is this sort a notion of the echo chamber where some would argue that facts matter less, that opinions become self-reinforcing. And there was an interesting piece within the trust barometer that talked about search engines. Arguably, even with their own biases, they are better at curating news than human editors. And so I think, you know, the challenge particularly for Brand marketers in that kind of new phenomenon of an echo chamber: actually, how do you connect with consumers? How do you penetrate that echo chamber?
Joanna: I think we’re just at the beginning of understanding the role that Influencers can play because often, actually, if you have shared values they can be a better forum for sharing your point of view than necessarily even hearing it directly from a brand. And I think you see that in food as much as you see that in any other category where the role of the micro blogger, the food blogger, the role of mum’s forums can be, actually, an incredibly powerful asset within your marketing campaigns beyond kind of the more traditional routes to engage in with consumers.
Lauren: Sure! Joanna all your input has been very insightful and I'm sure our listeners have really enjoyed it so thank you so much.
Joanna: It's been a pleasure, thanks for the time.
Lauren : And thanks to all of our listeners for joining us on this episode of the Career Success Podcast.
A purpose-led organization and its benefits
Leadership gurus affirm that the single most important responsibility of a leader is to define their organization’s “purpose”. And having done so, they must ensure that stakeholders understand that purpose and are empowered to act in ways that help achieve that purpose.
But what is “purpose”? It is essentially the raison d'être. Maximizing profits has for long been seen as the reason why businesses exist. However, in recent years this belief has begun to change, and “purpose” is now being defined in ways that go beyond profit maximization. This shift is the result of the growing realization that for any business, sustained growth and profitability depends on people- whether they are employees, customers, prospective customers or business partners.
Especially in the face of rapid change, a clear organizational purpose acts as a beacon to decision-making and as a rallying point. It also helps the organization make better decisions around whom to hire, how to retain talent, what products/services to offer, how to market/sell them etc. It also motivates people to do their best- and stretch. In turn, that drives higher levels of innovation, customer service and commitment to the organization.
How you, as a leader, create a purpose-led organization?
The theory, as always, is simple. As Prof. Dan Cable says in an HBR article (Source), leaders must trigger employees’ “seeking systems”. Let’s now look at some specific actions leaders can take to create and nurture a purpose-led organization.
The implementation of the theory must clearly begin with defining an organizational purpose that is both authentic and aligned to the business model. But the real task lies in personalizing this purpose to individuals and teams within the organization. Leaders must recognize that individuals are motivated when they have the freedom to express themselves. This means giving them more opportunities to do what they are good at, so they can shine. This means assigning people roles that leverage their strengths- in practice, this could well include facilitating transfers and role reassignments based on perceived or assessed strengths and not just qualifications or experience. It could also mean allowing employees the time, budgets and space to experiment with ideas. Of course, to the extent possible, all such experimentation must be aligned with the organization’s strategic priorities, so that the outcomes will help further the organization’s legitimate interests. The payoffs are potentially huge, though, as people working on what they like doing will almost always be better performers.
Research also shows that people tend to be more engaged with their work if they can see how their role/work contributes to larger organizational goals. To facilitate this, leaders must break down corporate strategy and departmental plans into smaller components and explain them to the relevant departments and teams. This allows people in individual departments to formulate their goals and KPIs in ways that are clearly aligned with the larger purpose. Many leaders and managers do not deconstruct and personalize the organization’s purpose and strategy; this results in employees feeling disconnected or like they are in a black box, not knowing the value of what they contribute.
Periodically (say at the end of each quarter), managers must show each department how it has made a difference. This may mean going beyond the standard performance dashboard or evaluation metrics- and this is what Purpose-driven leaders are willing to take the time and effort to do. For example, leaders at Novant Health encouraged employees to create their own job titles; this prompted people to highlight their unique contributions to their teams, and over time, caused a marked improvement in morale and performance.
Leaders must remember also that keeping the organization purpose-led is not a one-time exercise. As the business grows, new people join, and some people retire or otherwise separate from the organization. Regulations change, as do technologies. Collectively, these shape operating conditions. In response, company managements will take actions from time to time that may also impact employee morale and motivation. It is at such times that reaffirming the purpose and painting a clear picture helps. It may also need a new purpose to be defined. It would be a big bonus if As Peter Hall, President of Consumer Brands at New York-based Dean & DeLuca says, “The most motivating thing I think as a leader is to paint an exciting vision (for the team). And then secondarily, define team members’ part in the plan… then you’ve gone some way to fulfilling your leadership obligations and to motivating your executives.”
Our markets are changing. Customer preferences are different from what they were in the past. They buy more online than from stores. Gen Z and Y has more money than Gen X did when they were in their twenties and thirties- and are willing to spend it instead of saving it. Our quality-conscious buyer segments are better-educated and more insistent on using products that are environment-friendly and made without exploitative labour practices.
Each of the above statements applies to most mainstream industry sectors and businesses today. And yet, few industries can claim to have truly adapted to the new reality of their customers and their evolving expectations. One exception is perhaps the Luxury industry. Admittedly, this is not a homogeneous industry and includes many different goods and services. Bain & Co’s study estimates that personal products, cars and hospitality together accounted for 80% of this nearly €1.2 trillion market in 2017. (Source)
On a global basis, not many industries can boast of a 5% growth in 2017- but here again, the luxury business is an exception. And while this robust growth can be attributed to region-specific reasons such as the buoyancy in China, Europe and Japan, there are other factors at work too. As Davide Lunghi, Projects Director for Tag Heuer (an LVMH brand) points out, travellers represent a major buyer segment. Just think about how many people buy watches, perfumes, beauty products etc. from duty-free shops in airports around the world. Travellers may buy these products as gifts or for personal consumption- but buy they do- and that’s a key driver of growth in this industry. This trend also explains the rise of brand cafes at airports, where brands strive to provide prospective customers and customers with unique experiences, away from the distractions in duty-free stores caused by the presence of rival brands or products.
It is important to appreciate that by itself, having merchandise available in duty-free shops will not guarantee sales. That’s why industry leaders such as LVMH, Richemont Brands, Estee Lauder, Luxottica, Swiss Watch Group and indeed others, are reinventing themselves in order to become more relevant to the fastest-growing demographic segments this industry serves.
A UBS report states that 50% of Gucci’s sales and 65% of Saint Laurent’s sales are to millennials. (Source)“We see that Generation Y and Generation Z are bringing the luxury brands to move away from a dogmatic approach, and to cooperate with street wear brands and artists.”, says Mr. Lunghi. Explaining the many impacts of this strategic shift, Mr. Lunghi points to how luxury brands are specifically doing two things on the supply side:
By sourcing from new corners of the globe they are raising the standard of raw materials; and
Through external collaborations, brands are driving innovation to expand the definition of “luxury” from the traditional “classic” to “casual”, more affordable offerings. For example, LVMH’s collaboration with Supreme has created product lines that are more appealing to Gen Y and Z. By creating products that attract buyers from this segment, business will grow faster.
The Bain & Company study also reports that e-commerce contributed to 9% of the sale of luxury goods, and that by 2025, 25% of personal luxury goods will be sold online. In 2017, online sales recorded a 24% increase over 2016. Mr. Lunghi says, “55% of luxury consumers buying online use mobile phones, and these peaks appear among the youngest generations getting to 75%”. This is an important insight because this is the fastest-growing customer segment for the luxury good market. Luxury brand owners are consciously targeting this segment by changing not just the product offering, but also the buying experience.
Recognizing that Gen Y and Gen Z are Digital Natives who are completely at home in online social media platforms and even rely on them to shape their own opinions and perceptions, the luxury industry is investing heavily in social media, mobile and digital technologies to make its brands more present, visible and responsive. According to a UBS report, Gucci has 20.3 million followers on Instagram. Louis Vuitton has 20.7 million followers on Instagram, and 33 percent of its customers are millennials. The same report also mentions that “Google searches for Gucci and Louis Vuitton are ahead of Chanel, Prada and Burberry”. (Source)
This investment is not just into e-commerce technologies or SEO or SMM; it is also about actively monitoring what people say about brands and using feedback constructively to change product features or packaging or how they are sold etc. This shift from being centred around individual customers to focusing on entire communities is important, because it allows brands to reach out to, engage with and influence a large number of relevant prospects and customers.
What “digital” has done is to bring in a higher-than-before level of ease and convenience when it comes to shopping. Purchases can largely be made on an “anywhere, anytime, anybody” basis. But even in a digital world, brick-and-mortar stores exist. And even younger buyers go to stores to buy luxury products. It is therefore essential to provide buyers with a consistent omni-channel experience because, as Mr. Lunghi says, “in a digital world, customers expect a connected and coherent experience”. Jin K. Han, Ph. D., Professor of Marketing and Academic Director at Singapore Management University said, “For the luxury industry, e-commerce and digital engagement with the millennials represent a double-edged sword. While the rising trend in online sales for luxury brands reflects the industry’s ability to better connect with the millennials (who are more tech-savvy than previous generations), much of this uptick is a shift in sales from physical stores to digital channel. Moreover, with the increasing competition from off-price luxury digital channels—created by the luxury brand manufacturers themselves or third-party retailers, the full-price luxury is facing cannibalization dilemma.”
The strategies adopted by the luxury industry are just as relevant to others, provided they are adapted to their own contexts, but what will this mean for the future?
“Leaders are the ones who run headfirst into the unknown.They rush toward the danger.They put their own interests aside to protect us or to pull us into the future.Leaders would sooner sacrifice what is theirs to save what is ours.And they would never sacrifice what is ours to save what is theirs.This is what it means to be a leader.It means they choose to go first into danger, headfirst toward the unknown.And when we feel sure they will keep us safe,we will march behind them and work tirelessly to see their visionscome to life and proudly call ourselves their followers“
Do you know what leadership is? What do you perceive when you talk about leadership?
Upper beautiful part from one of Simon Sinek's books is describing what leadership is.
I would even enhance the last sentence and instead of "followers" use "leaders". The main task of every great leader is to develop new leaders, not followers. Great leaders need to establish leader-leader approach that is simply better than leader-follower approach.
Nobody can force you towards leadership.
Leadership is choice. Your choice. Only your choice.
What are the main things every great leader needs to have? I am sharing with you my view of 6 Things Every Great Leader Should Have.
What is harder for you - to talk or to listen?
Do you listen? When was the last time that you listened?
Listening is essential skill for every great leader. Moreover, it is the one of hardest ones to have. In today's world we are used to talking, we are used to giving advice and we are used to expressing ourselves. However, do we really know how to listen? Do we listen or we are listening and preparing our counter response?
What we can differentiate are three main types of listening.
Level 1 is internal listening based on your own agenda. Meaning you listen, but you do not care what other person is saying. You are already preparing your own answer. Level 1 is only about you.
Level 2 is focused listening. We are focusing on the other person. We can hear what the other person is saying. We are listening without our own agenda.
Where are you as a listener? Are you in Level 1 or Level 2? What do you think?
Level 3 is the deepest global listening. The listening that differentiates great leaders from good leaders. It is not listening only about words, it is about change of tone, it is about body language and it is about hearing what kind of words are being used. Level 3 listening is listening without judgments and without evaluation. You are fully there - you are present. You listen - you really listen.
How often have you been in Level 3 listening? This is ultimate goal of every great leader.
In addition, not only listening to others, but also listening to you. When was the last time that you manage to hear your heartbeat? You do not remember, ha?
If you want to ask questions then you need to know how to listen.
Moreover, do not forget LISTEN has the same letters as SILENT.
Empower.“It doesn't make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” Steve Jobs
The ultimate goal of every great leader is to delegate authority where information is. Information is on the “first line” and we need to empower our people to develop leaders there. We need leader-leader approach - everywhere.
What are companies usually doing?
Not empowering people and they are establishing endless reporting. Reporting has the goal to bring information from bottom to the top where authority is sitting. Then the decision is done at the top and it is being cascaded down. Instead that “top” has focus on the vision and leads companies towards long-term success, “top” is swimming in information overload. That is example of Leader-follower approach that is short-term oriented approach.
Leader-leader is a long-term oriented approach. Not many companies are cherishing leader-leader as pressure towards results is on a daily basis. Great leaders need to resist temptation and need to balance long-term and short-term orientation. Leader-leader approach is more sustainable and more long-term approach. The main challenge is that it is an approach of delayed gratification. Results are not visible immediately and in today's world of instant gratification, this can be a challenge. That is why great leaders are here - to solve that kind of challenges.
Not empowering people, we are creating followers who are not developing and who are not unleashing their own potential. If we have 1.000 people in the company and just 5 are deciding, do we need then other 995 people? If we have 15 people in the meeting and they all think the same as 1 big boss, then do we need other people? Here comes the HIPPO challenge. Do not be a HIPPO. HIPPO means HIghest Paid Person’s Opinion. In many companies, HIPPO is talking and others are just nodding or saying “Yes, great idea!” That is leader-follower approach. Remember to Listen. Remember to be Silent. Remember to Empower. Then you can avoid being a HIPPO.
“We kill all the caterpillars, then complain there are no butterflies“ - this is the core of no empowerment.
Empower and stipulate diversity in opinion.
Stipulate ownership and stipulate accountability.
This is what great leaders do - they create new great leaders via empowerment.
Help others.“Train people well enough so they can leave. Treat them well enough so they don't want to.” Richard Branson
You, as a great leader, have personal responsibility to develop others. When you go to the library, you can find section called Self-Help, but where is the section for Help Others?
When someone is not doing well in the job, do you know the reason? Do you listen enough to understand? Do you ask powerful questions? Do you even want to understand what is happening?
On the other hand, you just do not care and you look at the numbers? You then wait for feedback, talk to give negative feedback and you try to use the stick-and-carrot approach? Do you use fear leadership to improve the performance of others?
How much of your time do you use to develop your team? Think about it. When you imagine your working day, what is percentage of your time you use for reading and answering endless emails? What is percentage of your time you use for meetings? The most important is, what is percentage of your time that you use to develop your people? Reflect.
What are you doing for your consumers? What are you doing for your colleagues? What are you doing for your community?
Great leaders care. Great leaders empathize. Great leaders help others - help others to unleash their own potential.
Lead by Example.“Be the change you want to see in the world”; Mahatma Gandhi
Gandhi's quote is one of the most beautiful quotes that I have ever read. Ten words are sufficient - you as a great leader, need to be a role model. People are looking at you - do not forget that.
Have a Vision.“You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks”; Winston Churchill
Where do you want to be in 10 years in your business life?
Where do you want to be in 10 years in your private life?
If you know the answers on those questions then you are already on the way towards great leader.
Great leaders know where they are going. You are the creator of your destiny - nobody else. You decide what will happen to you. Do not blame others, do not justify yourself, you and only you are responsible for your life. Do not be a victim.
So have a vision.
Go fast forward 20 years from now. Where are you? Who is around you? Who are YOU? What do you notice?
Now look back to your life. What have you achieved? Are you satisfied? Would you do it differently? What would you do differently?
Live life. Hey, you have only one life!
Do not use it on worthless things and worthless moments.
Enjoy time with your family, enjoy time with your friends, travel, be outside, simply enjoy!
Before I close with 30 second speech of Coca Cola's ex-CEO, I would like that you take a moment, check two pictures below and reflect.
What do you notice? What do you think about it.
Bryan Dyson - former CEO of Coca Cola“Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. They are Work, Family, Health, Friends and Spirit and you are keeping all of there in the air.You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. However, the other four balls - Family, Health, Friends and Spirit - are made of glass. If you drop one of these; they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for it“6 Things Every Great Leader Should Have
Lead by Example
Have a Vision
Marko Mintas is Erickson Professional Coach, lifelong learner, sales and marketing leader with successful track record and experience in sales, trade marketing and marketing management of multinational blue-chip company in Fast Moving Consumer Goods. Marko is passionate about coaching, people leadership and supporting other people to unleash their own potential. He cherishes entrepreneurial mindset through challenging status quo, searching, finding and creating new ways to establish additional value, achieve exceptional business results and consistently deliver strong top and bottom line results.
Marko is Master of Business Economics at University of Zagreb with having numerous additional educations incl. Harvard Business School and IESE. He has been working in three different countries and is currently living and working in Vienna, Austria.
March 19, 2018
LS International Global Compensation Survey
Check out the 2018 compensation survey from executives across the consumer goods industry.