For over 20 years, Pier-Luigi Sigismondi has worked at the intersection of purpose-led brands and value creation for the business. He is a strong believer in the proactive role companies can play against climate change, social equality, and inclusion when doing business.
As President of Dole Worldwide Packaged Foods, a 169 year-old-brand, he is leading a profound transformation, with a vision to make it an iconic Nutrition and Wellness company. One that is driven by purpose, globally.
Prior to Dole, Pier-Luigi was the President of Unilever for South East Asia and Australasia. He joined Unilever and its Executive Board in 2009. Before joining Unilever, Pier-Luigi was Vice President of Corporate Operations Strategies at Nestle’ SA (CH) and VP Operations and R&D Nestle’ Mexico.
He has served as Non-Executive Director of Rexel SA Supervisory Board and was a Board Member of Ben & Jerry’s, one of the brightest purpose-led brands.
In August 2020, Pier Luigi was appointed non-Executive Chairman of Sustenir, a vertical farming start-up based in Singapore committed to delivering triple-bottom-line value to Temasek and other future strategic investors committed to the urban farming industry.
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Some of the highlights of the episode:
Hello everybody. And welcome to the leaders in supply chain podcast. I am your host strata , calamari managing director of ELCA global. It's my great pleasure to welcome. Pierluigi sieges Monday, the president of Dole packaging, and Pierluigi delivered a very interesting keynote presentation as part of the makers and movers summit on sustainability and supply chain. I'll give a quick introductions for some of you who might not know yet pure region . So he's , uh , he's been working for more than 20 years. The intersection of purpose led brands and value creation for the business is a strong believer of the proactive role that companies can play against climate change, social equality and inclusion when doing business and as the president of Dole , worldwide packaged food, which is 169 year old brand, he's leading a profound transformation with a vision to make it an iconic nutrition and wellness company. Prior to doll Pierluigi was the president of Unilever for Southeast Asia and Australasia. He had several jobs in Unilever, including of blockchain officer before, before that. And he also worked for Nestle before Unilever. He also has served as non-executive director at , uh , of Rexel supervisory board was a board member of Ben and Jerry's. And since August, 2020, this year, he was also appointed as non-executive chairman of sustain ear , which is a vertical farming startup based in Singapore. So without further ado Pierluigi thanks for joining us and pleasure to have you.Speaker 2:
Likewise, thank you for hosting me here. And we got a lot of questions or some questions that were specifically linked to your keynote on the topic of sustainability is a big thing is an important thing. However, in the context of COVID-19, some companies have put it a little bit, or there's a perception that they put it on the back burner just before we went live. I was reading that Dane puts a study that actually says that it's the other way around that actually it's even more top of the mind. So I guess the question is how do you see this from your perspective, a Pierluigi is , is it becoming a nice to have, are companies doing even more? Is it the same in the context of COVID-19? Listen, this is the very first story that humanity shares at the same time. If you think about it, even in world war two or in previous pandemic events, they were always limited to some regions, continents, but never with such a massive global scale that has truly affected millions and millions of people for the first time, to my knowledge, this is the very first story that is shared by everyone in this world. And I think it provides a profound reality that needs to make us think how we do business, how we take care of ourselves and how we thrive a meaningful job that can somehow make a difference in this. So putting the humanity tragedy aside COVID has been a good crisis for us, because it has allowed us to accelerate the pace of change to pivot into new areas, new categories that we're now entering very quickly to take aside all the nonsense that comes with PowerPoint and what I call the intellectual capacity or the PowerPoints of best city that we often face in our business. And then just get on with what really matters. Now I'm trying to be too generic on purpose so people can take a message home, but I will say certainly it has given us a very crude sense of what it means to make very simple, very drastic, very quick decisions in a life that can be very short, that can a crisis that can affect everyone. So yeah, I think , uh, our company is doing well. We're doing record sales this year. We have a supply issue, not a demand issue. We could grow much more if we had more availability of , uh, raw materials, but certainly we are taking advantage of this crisis. And we believe that it's far from over. I think this is going to be an extended situation and extended reality, no matter how optimistic we are about the vaccines, which are now in place or being announced by the time this will get distributed, we're talking at least second half of 2021 in the meantime that a lot of suffering and a lot of issues will happen in the economy, in society , uh, in, in, in every single angle of these Wars . So lots to keep working on.Speaker 1:
Absolutely. And we have a question and I want to pull it up from Oliver. Hurry was praising you for your initiatives that you undertook back in the days at Unilever. And I guess the question is some question that a lot of people struggle with when it comes to selling sustainability or getting the buy-in from their CPOs on sustainability. Maybe share a little bit of your views on thisSpeaker 2:
Right change by being a philosophical dogmatic about why is it that there is so much weight that could be converted into nutrition or could be converted into animal feed or products that can be benefiting others for us, that journey was fantastic because it all started in India. When we went to visit the biggest, one of the biggest lungs in Asia called the Abbey , where we saw the crude reality of many women, children, men that were having a living out of the waste that we generated as a company. Now on one side, this is quite DKNY dignify , because you could say, at least they're earning something. On the other side, we saw the very sad reality of children collecting and segregating ways from landfills . And we said, we can be part of this tragedy . So as a leader, you will be always tempted to preach and expect people to follow. What we did instead was to see and feel in our skin, what it means to put waste to landfills and say, we don't want to leave a life that can be much better. And , and throughout that exposure, we converted ourselves very quickly. Then the fun started because we said 255 factories around the world and let's see who's going to be last instilled , disposing waste to landfill. So there was a fun and quite energizing competition, so everyone could participate. And we had great leadership from members of my team who put their heart into this and , and engaging with universities management trainees , and then always being there to support others, to make it happen. So leadership is not something that comes at top management levels. Leadership is expressed by anyone in the reality of their jobs. So I think I said to Oliver , it doesn't matter where you see that to whom you report. I think you can always, when you do things with passion, you can find always the narrative and confront people with realities that will allow them to convert and uncertainly . There is the heart and there is the mind , uh , human beings make decisions emotionally, which then are justified with information or data. And I think in our case, it was exactly that we took the decision of not having our products in landfills . And then we started calculating how much could we save by reducing waste? How much could we actually help others? And then the numbers came in and that's when we were unstoppable because we combined logic with magic and emotions and things happen in a record time, we said by 2015, and we ended up concluding a year early , having all the sites around the world with notes , no ways to land field. And from there things keep growing because you said no more factories. Now let's go for warehouses. Let's go for offices are the centers. And it just became a movement internally and externally as well. And that's what I mean. If I look back, I would say out of the few things that I'm proud of in my career, certainly I thank all of you for bringing this back to my great fond memories, because it was a phenomenal transformation.Speaker 1:
And I'm going to , I'm going to take this question from Jonathan Pierce because this is another pushback. You know, I think we should address this pushback because it's a reality that a lot of people face, I guess, in , in internally. So how do you convince investors that being a purpose driven organization is not at the cost of profit.Speaker 2:
Uh , it's great to see Jonathan again, this event, long time since we exchange and we met last time, I think today sustainability or purpose can be really quantified in terms of returns on the investment. You know, longer the days when we have to invest ahead of returns, there are many analysis that prove that either more than managed, generated by belief driven buyers that want to buy only, or mainly brands with purpose. I think on the supply chain side a lot can certainly be eliminated in terms of costs . If you drive a green energy and a green supply chain, I think investors more and more are talking, not walking yet, but talking about the triple bottom line, which is planet people and prosperity, they call it profits . And , and there are many cases that you can actually make. Now at the end of the day, you need to make the analytics work because no investor would only do it out of, you know, a leap of faith, but there is evidence out there Jonathan, you can certainly make the case. Today is much easier than in the past. When we started 10 years ago, you only need to surround yourself with great minds that have been there before. And the case will be, will be made.Speaker 1:
There is another question from a forum, all their sharp Petters and I'll pull out in terms of, I guess, transportation and the impact that it has. And obviously this year airlines have faced a fairly significant drop, but how do you see this, this question Pierluigi and , and do you see more, more and more production coming to the closer to the markets also to address this? So what's your thoughts.Speaker 2:
You don't start generating value in a business by thinking how to reduce transport. I think transport is , is necessary. And I will say it's part of doing business. And as you build scale and efficiency, you'll be centralizing more, whether it's manufacturing or distribution. So is unavoidable. Now the question is how green on how smart and green, because there are technologies today that allow us to transport with much higher, not lower temperatures. If you have coal supply chains, my invitation is to open your eyes and engage with startups and many, many companies out there that have a lot to offer to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions. I believe in global supply chains. And I believe also in total greenhouse gas, emission reductions, not just in transportation alone, of course, if you move into intermodal transportation, if you have the Uber trucks on land transportation, there is efficiency and scale. You can generate by, you know , transporting more volumes with fewer deliveries. But I think the big big equation is when you start looking at you and your , your total footprint. And I think that's where you might find that there are other areas that can certainly make a much bigger difference. And that's what I learned in my past transportation and manufacturing, where only two, 3% of our total CO2 emissions footprint, we realize that working with partners, suppliers, and also looking at how we actually engage with consumers, made a much bigger effect, including waste by the way, in greenhouse gas, emissions and transportation alone. So short answer is plenty of technologies today available that can reduce emissions. Yes, you can redefine your distribution network to reduce costs. And that also comes with a lower emissions, but think outside the box and then accept regional global supply chains as a way to do good business. And if you do good business, you will be sustainable as well, which is what matters.Speaker 1:
And I want to ask you Pierluigi in terms of vaccines, and obviously you need cold chain sometimes for your, you know, for your products and the spike that will be once the vaccine does become available for distribution, they will be a lot of capacity that will go that way. Do you also foresee some challenges in terms of your supply chain with less capacity or all of a sudden available on the market? Do you see any impact to dial into your business? Or how do you see things moving in the next week ? Six?Speaker 2:
No. I mean, if you look at BioNTech and , uh , Pfizer's, I mean, they talk about minus 70 minus 80 degrees transportation for code change . I , I assume that there'll be with like liquid nitrogen and other know how, how this is going to happen certainly far from transporting foods even more, they're not talks about minus 10. So the supply chains are very stressed today. That certainly is the case now because of the vaccines, because clearly they are being still produced early, early deliveries are happening now, but because of the immense amount of volume increase that has happened, the health concerns about labor and, and what it takes to, to hire resources, which are limited. I think every great supply chain professional will always have to think about building resilience in the basements . And that's why I value this profession, you know, tremendously, because I learned on my scheme lately that many times you gives supply chain reliability for granted, but that has to be consequences of a great strategy behind that builds three components. One is adaptability, the other one is predictability and the last one is recipients. So it's a no thank you job. As I always said, when I was myself running the supply chain, but you, you need to be predictable, no surprises, no one likes. Um, even though it's a book award, you can always, you know, plan for the worst and aim for the best. So at least you can manage but use and be prepared for it. We need to be adaptable, which means changing quickly scenarios based on the latest fluctuations on demand, on supply, on partners, not, not being always there right now. We're shifting a lot of our supply base from Southeast Asia into Latin America to supply North America. So that speed of change is a good FAQ indicator, which is a call adaptability quite efficient. And then the last one is obviously a resilience. So you need to build contingency plans. You need to understand that cost is not the only dimension that you need to drive for value, but ensuring service ensuring revenue generation is in my scale of value is much more important than cost alone because any, any missed delivery is missed generation of margins. And often they're much more damaging for the business towards the longterm than those extra basis points of transportation or manufacturing costs you might want to be saving for the sake of being more and more efficient on a per case or per ton basis. Yeah. So think always like a PNL or CEO would think. And, and I, and I'm sure that you will be a highly, highly valued more than just as a cost center. You'll be value as a , as a value creator in the organization.Speaker 1:
And I want to probe a little bit, and we've gotten a few questions and your profile is quite quite unique in a way purely because you made the switch, you were chief supply chain officer, then you were BNL holder with the newly liver . Now you're, you know , again, PNL holder, you're the leader of the company. How was that for you? Right. How was, how was it , uh, you know, maybe some tips and tricks in terms of adapting, if any, and you know, just your story in general.Speaker 2:
Sure. Yeah. I think he comes with the clarity of what, what makes you click? So, so for me, it's all about impact and meaning, meaning of the job that I have, right? So for me, there was a point in time. I started my career being , uh , on the shop floor and working on night shifts in an aerospace company today, I'm selling bananas. And I say that always with respect and love for my job, but I come back to this in a minute because can make your job meaningful no matter what you do in life. And it doesn't need to sound sexy to be meaningful and impactful for the world. But having said that I'm an engineer by nature, a computer scientist. So I could not be more programmed in my brain to be repetitive, predictable, and clearly systemic. But I also had the curiosity to get myself involved in creative work, in dealing with all parts of the business. So what I did as well as I was growing in my career was always asking myself, how will I do the job of my boss and how can I learn from his or her mistakes or the , the good things that they do. So as it , as a supply chain person, you have the amazing advantage. Like also finance person has to get yourself involved in many aspects of the basis that are just beyond your comfort zone, which is the functional excellence that you have to provide. So I was always expanding myself into other areas, marketing sales, and then finding reasons to provide help or offer help. So I could learn more in other areas, which were not my own. And it was clear for me in my career that that's what I wanted to be after. I felt that I had lived and experience many of the great aspects of being a supply chain head. I felt that I needed to prove myself into a comfort at this comfort zone, which is managing a business, managing a , being a general manager. And those were the choices I made in my career. Now it takes, it's a big wall to jump. Clearly. You need to have people that know you more than what your CV says and that flexibility, mind to understand what it takes to make heartfelt or Gutfeld decisions and not just analytical driven decisions, because the adaptability is very important. And then just keep yourself exposed to areas that you are not necessarily an expert, so you can learn from your colleagues. And then from their own words, you know, think that you could get there by being a CEO perhaps, or finding, you know, steps back in your career. That will , we'll have to reset yourself in terms of titles and levels. In my case, I never had to do that, but as I was willing to step down, if I needed to, in order to, you know, keep expanding my scope, rather than only fitting that I was having a great life in the supply chain space, which is huge by nature, by the way. But the way I value people is not just about the depth they have, but also the breadth in their decision-making skills. And , and I think that's , that's what I will advise. Anyone keep stretching all the time. That's why you always should ask yourself what decision would I make if I were in that person's role. And that is a continuous learning process that I've been through.Speaker 1:
And I , I want to double click a little bit different if I may. And it's a little bit like also jobs is like, you know, when you prepare to have a kid, then you know, you can read a lot about being a parent, but you know , the reality is that there's always going to be things that you didn't know and nobody can prepare you on. So I wanted to see what were those things, you know, obviously babies are a different ball game , but when you became a CEO for Unilever, for Southeast Asia and Australasia, right, then when you became for doll , what were some of those things that kind of maybe, you know, forced to , to fast track your learning?Speaker 2:
Well, first and foremost, you need to always be authentic and declare openly that you are involved now in areas that you don't have major experience on. Don't pretend that, you know, everything be focused more on the quality of your questions rather than in giving answers all the time. So in my early days, and by the way, I was destined to be a general manager for Nestle in Latin America. And that's when a role came for me to be the chief supply chain officer of Unilever. So that was a very difficult decision for me because at that time already back in 2009, I was on my steps to become a general manager. And that would have been a major step down in my levels in the company because I wanted to invest for my future. But then the supply chain officer role came and it was impossible to say no to such an , a , an amazing adventure. But when I, I was just thrown in as a general manager in Southeast Asia, you need to be very honest and authentic. Same as when I started as the chief supply chain officer of Unilever. And this was a multiples, more complex job that I ever done in my life. People know in the second, whether you know what you're talking about and they know in a second, whether you're being authentic and honest intellectually, but also in how you exercise your , uh, your authority. So accepting the fact that you don't have all the answers is the very first step for people's susceptibility in your new role. Second is about being there to help and humble enough to, you know, put yourself really on the front lines very quickly to learn what the other professions are about. So whether it's legal, whether it's , uh, you know, taxes, whether it's , uh, some areas of finance, treasury, whether it's , uh , obviously on sales. So people admire and accept the fact that you are there to learn from them. And then if you're honest about your background, you will learn very fast. Now you have to have to ask yourself what kind of value am I adding to the organization in this new role that I have, and how can I make a difference? There was a time before me, and there will be a time after me. So for those who are jumping into a complete new uncomfortable zone, you need to be clear about what is going to be the agenda that you will drive in order to make a difference, stay true to yourself, and then surround yourself with the best people that you can trust. Not the ones that only say yes, and, and they will be happy, happy to make you learn fast and support you along the way. And that's what I didSpeaker 1:
Excellent. Some, some real gems here, and, you know, in all work is executive search and a lot of people ask us, you know, why, why not more chief supply chain officers to CEOs ? And there's been studies. And I think there's , you know, there's obviously a couple of gems like Tim cook, like Mary Barra, like this, there's been a couple of, you know, obviously yourself, right? There's a couple of, of people that have stepped, but still, there's not as many as we could. Right. And , and when you look to your point, when you look at the depth of the professional, in terms of understanding the business, being connected to all the different departments and the, you know, the actual getting of what's going on in the business, probably the supply chain professionals are the most connected. And however, there's certain things that , uh, I had , uh , we had a last summit. And then the consistent thing that seemed to be missing is storytelling or the ability to tell a story in a way that can engage people better and get engaged the CEO, and can put, you know, the supply chain professional, maybe to the forefront for the executive role. So I want to go ask you, what's your view of what are some of these maybe soft skills that need to be honed in the profession to better, or to have more CEOs coming from supply ?Speaker 2:
That's a great question. So you, you need depth to be credible, but too much depth will make you a specialist. And the question that you need to ask yourself is where do I find the most pleasure in, in the way I exercise my profession? So , uh , and there is nothing wrong in being , uh , you know , the most respected person in the industry from a quality assurance point of view. Yeah , James Dan and them actually created a whole culture of total quality management, and he changed the industry. So you can still be a specialist and , and enjoy that and still be relevant in your job. Right? But in order for you to be a general manager, which is what a CEO is a general manager now underscore general, you, you need to be comfortable in dealing with uncertainty. You need to be very flexible in the way in which you define alternative options and scenarios have the ability to listen. And the most after that stability , three, that you need to display is judgment and how assertive you are in , uh , understanding what's happening in the business. And that's a skill that you learn as you expose yourself to these kinds of realities. Yeah. We, humans tend to jump immediately or stay in our comfort zone, which is to, you know, to stay in the areas that we know as we age is more difficult to learn. And that's, for me, learning and innovation is it's a sign of , uh , it's , it's an investment for your longevity. So you need to keep yourself up to date, curiosity, adaptability, and assertiveness are elements, which you certainly need to exercise. And these are, most of you develop over time. We are born as very curious beings and education environment. Sometimes parents without wanting to, they kill that curiosity. So we go quickly into our comfort zone. So , um , I'm preaching a little bit of the obvious, but for those in my team that I will want to take my job one day, I don't have the preconceived idea that you need to be a good storyteller. Actually, that's quite dangerous. I don't want to believe that , uh , unless you're a good market here in my industry, you can be a CEO. That's, that's a document that has been demonstrated not to work all the time for me. What matters the most is how you exercise your leadership. How do you build traction in your organization? The charisma that comes with authenticity and the soft skills of caring for people, as you understand your environment and adapt very quickly and also make decisions which are driven often by your listening skills, but also by your instinct. And that's what makes your general manager at the end of the day. Now these are soft key skills. You cannot write on a CV and that's why networking. It's absolutely essential. So you need to invest time in forums, in relationships, in building your black book of people that you know, and that people that know you because these opportunities will come out of those that know who you really are, which is not something you can put on paper. And that's when you get your given the trance and the trust to run a PNL, which brain's a huge risks. But, you know, at the end, like, like trusted relationships between humans, you, you can always make mistakes, but if you're balanced and assertive, you can minimize them. So invest in your network and move yourself out of the comfort zone, because those are the two key investments you need to make in your own career. If you want to go there . Yeah . And we have a,Speaker 1:
You know, we have a younger listener now with her question or not. I think she's just starting her career. And I guess, you know , that's her question? What am I , maybe I would frame it in the way of what was some of the gems, right? If you were , and you've shared already a lot, right? But the young people that are just starting in supply chain and the supply chain right now is , well , there's a lot more dynamic, technological technology driven industry, 4.0, driven. Then, you know, it was maybe 20 years ago, the principles probably are the same and are the same, but what would be some pieces of advice if you may share to this younger generation theory ,Speaker 2:
First of all, you need to ask yourself why, what is what I like about it? As I said before, supply chain is enough. Thank you job. When things go, well, it would be the merit of someone else. When things go back, you get exposed and then you are the reason why things do not happen in the business. So like some professions and others are much tougher than a supply chain manager. You, you need to be driven by your passion for what you do. And that's not just in supply chain, but everywhere. So to the person that asked the question, I would say, ask yourself, what is, what I feel attracted about a supply chain profession? Is it building things? Is it about the technology that is behind? Is it because I like to see the bigger picture of a , of a system in terms of how we operate, we're often carried by circumstances in our lives. Your parents tell you, I think it's better if you study engineering, because there are many jobs out there that will be most likely available when you graduate. And I'm not joking. This is, this is the kind of culture I was raised with. So I think you need to own your own destiny. And then, you know, feel that, that there is something inside yourself that takes you out of bed that allows you to, or enables you to love the smell of the oil and the machinery. If you are in a manufacturing environment, that is very tough by the way, or if you are in a, in a warehouse or you are in an office doing the managed supply planning or dealing with , uh , procurement activities. So it's, it's sincerely as simple as that, there is no secret because what applies to supply chain or planners in finance and the rest. Now, you certainly need to have that some breath, you cannot just be intuitive in , in, in a supply chain role. You need to have a good component of analytical skills, problem solving skills. And those are essentially my view because as supply chain professional is a problem solver or someone that predicts problems and avoids them. And I think you need to ask yourself, do I have those elements in my fabric that I can really explode or, you know , more? Yeah , yeah. It's a bit of a generic answer, but that's, I remember I was, I was a little boy in Caracas, Venezuela when I visited the juice factory and I still remember the breaks being produced on the line. So I love the complexity of all these industrial systems and how they, they were all combined and producing these huge amount of volumes in products that I love at the time. So for me, transforming things, converting things is a reason why I went for my profession. I became an industrial engineer because I love the notion of creating and transforming things. So that's, that's how my profession originated. Yeah.Speaker 1:
And I want to, I want to also ask you for your Luigi because it's quite different environments. Let's just compare, okay. Nestle Unilever, huge, you know, MNC Dole is, is also huge. It's also global, but it's , uh , it's a different flavor, right. So I guess I would want also to maybe to go into the element of cultures and shaping culture as a leader and the differences in between the organization, and maybe you can share a little bit.Speaker 2:
Yeah. So first of all, Dawn is just a fraction of , of the companies you mentioned. And I'll say that , uh , we love for my company because at my stage, in my career science, wasn't that beautiful anymore. I was looking for an environment that would give me freedom to learn, to make mistakes, to play a sandbox that will allow me to experiment and just to try out things and surround myself with , uh , great people that felt that life in big corporate environments was enough. And we wanted just to be in surgeons with scale. I mean, it still is a 2.5 billion business, but nothing of the sciences of , uh, uh, Unilever and Nestle. So it gets to a point in your life where you value more, how much you can expand the role that you inherit rather than the size of the rod itself that comes with the integration of your previous, you know, steps in your careers . So being in a, in an environment that, that like DOE where you have a global supply chain that is truly sourcing raw materials from all over the world was , uh , what's an exciting part for me, but most it's more, more exciting or as exciting as that was the notion of reviving a brand that has been, as you said, in your kind introduction has been in the market for over a century and , uh, was, you know, fading away declining slowly but surely losing relevance in modern times. So how can you bring back the , the image of a brand like though , which needs to be transformed again, re-energized , uh, make attractive to young consumers, not just only the grandmas who are using our pineapples in Thanksgiving, which of course is fantastic, but not what excites me at the end of the day. So we are transforming this company into a nutrition and wellness company that wants to be relevant in the space of health, in new categories that we're now investing on. And I felt that was, that was a much more exciting role than, you know, then being ahead of another region in a, in a big multinational . Yeah . So although you, you tend to , to build arrogancy your life when you are these fantastic big companies. And I'm very proud and I have fond memories of both Nestle and Unilever. I think they are phenomenal companies that , that size often puts you in a blind spot and it makes you arrogant. I think that for me, the change was putting me in the , in the reality where I felt I needed to create something new was transforming, you know, a great business that , uh , was on a decline in both my, my personal purpose in life is built to last. And I felt that we had , uh , a great business that growth history in consumer goods that was not actually building itself for a future. And , and, and where now we are finding ourselves growing again. And it's a , it's just a very energizing story, which is only the early days of a great transformation and the benefit has to come. Yeah . So , so for me, we all need to ask ourselves, am I doing something that is really what takes me out of bed every day, even if I were not to be paid in the job, would I still do it? Um , what is my personal purpose that is consistent compatible with what the company wants to achieve? And if you find that alignment and that great chemistry, you're going to do your very best and that's what the results will come.Speaker 1:
No, that's, that's , um , very well said. And I want to, we, we , we having a lot more questions, but I will take you offline in the interest of time. I want just to share this, this comment that came in and pretty much goes around, summarize the book on leadership in five minutes. Thank you. Pierluigi is so , uh , some great, great gems, and I really want to sit with your authenticity and your, your candor and your honesty peer region . Obviously you've seen a lot in, in your career. And , uh , and I think this has been extremely helpful for all sorts of , uh , you know , levels. And we often see, and , you know, as, as headhunters , we see people that the different levels, and there's a big, obviously you've you spoke about maybe these big machines and this big corporates, they serve a very good purpose, but at the same time , uh, at some point people want something else. And a lot of, a lot of them I've seen are a bit afraid, not a bit afraid because, you know, you feel like, Oh, I don't want to let go of, you know, my status and my whatnot , and step into the, you know, risky, murky and whatnot. And then you'll see people that are maybe in companies for another three, five, 10 years. And they're not really, like you said, they don't have the fire in the bill anymore. They don't necessarily, you know , go and act it, but they kind of, you know , back to the comfort zone, if you, if you was always so very inspiring what you shed does . I think all of us should strive to be more adventurous.Speaker 2:
I grew up for a lot of time in my career, thinking that bigger and bigger was , uh , was better and better. So bigger company, bigger roles , bigger organization, you know, in Unilever, I had a team of 110,000 people. And that was like, wow. So just, just the notion of being the head of such a huge team gave you a sense of pride, but it gets to a point where your , your learning curve, your intellect, your capacity to, to reinvent yourself becomes very limited. And that's what you need to watch all the time. Are you too much in your comfort zone? And if that's the case, you might be starting to decline without you knowing. So, so for me, size is not any longer, necessarily relevant. What is relevant is the impact that I can create in the company and in the business and in the world and a business. I meant the industry. And I think that that comes with entrepreneurialism. It comes with innovation comes with that sense of ownership of your own company, that there is a reason why you have so many people, right? Students coming out of the Ivy league in North America, going straight into startups because they want to have that freedom of, of invention. And , uh, and, and I think that's, that's in my view, what's relevant. Of course you want status. You want salary, you want standards of living , which come with bigger jobs. And, and I don't regret every single step that I take in my life, but I think that I still have another 20 years to go where I will feel much more fulfilled if I can, can help many people just to, to do something that can make , leave a legacy of this war . And then just having a great title on my business card. Of course, I can say that because I lived that reality, but I am convinced that , uh, bringing back a brand and a company to , to, again, to the relevant minds of great consumers, it's an amazing challenge. So the challenge itself can be as big as your ambitions are. So you don't have to limit yourself. If the system around you is limiting you, then then you have to change that for me , uh, you as an executive search firm and to all the friends that are joining this call, I will say there are three big elements that I will really value when I, when I assess whether I can have members in my team first is ambition because we all need to have great dreams and we should not fall shy in saying, I want to be a CEO of a multinational one day. So having dreams and ambition is no sin, and we should stay then clear and loud with the conviction though, which is the number two of being humbled and displaying humility, which means understanding what are your limits? What are your development needs? I don't call them weaknesses. I call them development needs. So you can stay ground grounded. As you keep looking at the sky saying , that's what I want to go. But also knowing that I'm here and I need to invest in myself if I want to get there. So humility is a , is an important essence that I assess . And then the last one is self-confidence because you can be very humble, but if you don't believe in yourself, you will only going to be a following a follower in , uh , in your life. So that self belief, that confidence that will allow you to just take bets on yourself as you remain humble and you keep aspiring for more in life. It's the great cocktail of, of leadership that has worked for me. And even though it's been 29, I don't know how many years now, 30 years, I still apply them every single day. And I still measure those in every person in my team. I hate arrogance too much. Self-confidence leads to arrogance , too much humility leads to lack of, you know , followership. And I think too much , uh, ambition makes you greedy as well. So it is the balance of the three and the sweet spot of those that will make you an exceptional person. And that is something that you can cultivate in your life every single day. So I don't know how much that helps, but hopefully that will be a good message you can take with you after this call.Speaker 1:
No, absolutely. I , I can , uh, you know, you'll see the comments at the end of this, so it definitely helped. And , uh, and I must personally say that this has been an incredible sharing session purely, just so personally, I want to thank you for your authenticity and your , uh, your openness and also the , the , the way that I think, you know, just the , the message that you portrayed . There are simple. And obviously it comes from many, many, many years of experience and you've lived a career that maybe many dream of, but at the same time, the , the , the simplicity in it, which I guess we as humans also have , we have a nature of, you know, you could simply, it can't be the right thing. It has to be a little bit more complex. We are looking for that silver bullet that will, I mean, I know I have been , um , for a while, that that will shortcut everything. You know, there's gotta be something that, you know, is done , uh , is going to give it , but in reality, it's principles day in, day out exercising these muscles and putting the work. And I think some, some brilliant pieces of advice from you. So I want to thank you. It's a pleasure havingSpeaker 3:
You staySpeaker 2:
Healthy, keep inspiring and , and having a great, the journey adult. Absolutely. Yeah. And don't forget that being simple is not the same as being simplistic. So there is a big difference on the two and some companies have built great brands by being simple, but it requires a lot of depth of the other day. So thanks again, this has been a , a great session , uh, allow me to go back to my past and also protect the future. So I love that. So all the best and , uh , and good luck to those attending this call .Speaker 3:
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