Mondelēz Thailand won two grand prizes at the inauguration HR Excellence Awards 2021, Thailand:
- Bronze for “Excellence in talent acquisition”
- Bronze for “Excellence in HR innovation”
In this interview, Kaustubh Kulkarni, Head of Personnel, Mondelēz Thailand, shares the importance of having passionate leaders, who live and reflect the values and bring the team together to serve the larger business agenda.
Q What is your organization’s winning HR strategy and what steps have you taken along this journey?
Mondelēz Thailand’s HR strategy revolves around three key focus areas: capacity, capabilities and culture.
First, capacity – making sure we really have very passionate leaders, who live and reflect our values and bring the team together to serve the larger business agenda. Emphasis is also placed on ensuring greater organizational sufficiency.
The next pillar, capacity, is what accelerates the growth of our talent and our business. We invest in several areas, including building a mindset of growth, resilience, agile skills and courage. We also have a very strong internal learning platform called MIU (International University of Mondelez) which hosts thousands of functional and non-technical training.
Culture is what defines us. We have defined our leadership framework as guiding principles of our values, commitment and desired behaviors to shape our culture. We’re a success-driven organization with bold goals, but we truly believe we can make it happen when we all have colleagues who lead with purpose, who care about each other, invest quality time to grow and also take time for well-being, friends, and family.
We are a confectionery company after all. To us, fun and play are just as important as work – and we really try to bring that element to life through great programs led by cross-functional teams.
We received great feedback on our engagement survey, improving this year and last year. We’re also on track to meet our trade commitments for 2021 – so we feel good about that, but of course it’s a journey and we’ll continue to evolve.
Q How has this strategy helped you meet your HR priorities, and what role has leadership played in helping make this initiative a reality?
While HR leads the articulation of our larger human resources strategy, it is positioned not as an HR program – but as an organizational priority, with all leaders also invested behind it. We believe this really has an impact on how broad teams experience the culture, how we collectively own and shape our purpose, and how we drive our business priorities.
Moreover, this is not exclusive to management teams. We have a distributed model – and believe in empowering people so that each individual has the capacity to lead. That’s why many of our learning programs and engagement activations are led by colleagues and teams who are integrated closer to where the action is.
This allows us to make the programs the most relevant to the audience, to correct the situation quickly when we need to make adjustments, to develop and strengthen the succession bench – while ensuring adequate support and sponsorship of seniors. We are very proud that our growth and success stems from collective responsibility and ownership.
Q Unexpected roadblocks are an integral part of the execution of any initiative. What were some of the obstacles you and your team encountered while deploying, and how did you successfully overcome them?
In 2020-2021, like many organizations, we were significantly affected by the pandemic. We had visible gaps to fill in our business model, and at the same time, we had fair churn rates at the leadership and organizational level at large. Given the context at the time, one of the challenges was attracting the right talent to lay the groundwork for the journey ahead.
On this front, it was an exercise in high partnership with the Talent Acquisition team working closely with local and regional leaders to reach out and build the “Why MDLZ?” Proposition. “
Once we got past that and got the key roles, we also needed to stabilize the rest of the organization to make sure all hands were on deck to collaborate on a demanding turnaround program, while simultaneously upgrading skills.
Another challenge was, given the context of working from home, many colleagues joined us virtually and this created a challenge both on their functional integration as well as on their cultural assimilation. We experienced some attrition during early childhood as talents felt unable to communicate, learn and excel in a demanding environment.
To solve this problem, we worked on multiple fronts to revamp our onboarding program for a virtual experience, invest more in recordings by leaders and spot the support needed early on, create moments of joy through creative engagements. and, equally important, building the capacity of our supervisors to lead effectively in a remote context. We continue to listen, learn and adapt.
Q As evidenced by the victory, this initiative has clearly yielded astonishing results. What was your game plan for measuring ROI? What are the pride that you can share with us on this front?
Here are some of the results and actions of the people we are proud of this year.
Overall, we have a very strong improvement in the results of our engagement survey. Our three main elements are non-discrimination, empowerment and action, which indicates an inclusive and performance-oriented culture.
We have actively promoted and advanced in diversity, equity and inclusion not only in Thailand but across the SEA region. We have strong female representation both at the executive level and at broader levels. Earlier this year, we appointed factory managers for our manufacturing plants in Ladkrabang and Khon Kaen – two exceptional female leaders. It helps to further break down myths and barriers, especially in a manufacturing context.
We have a very active internal rewards program – “CourageouSTARS”. Throughout the year, we’ve sought to amplify and celebrate those who rise above, and we’ve really built a strong culture around that, with over 50% of our colleagues receiving an award for their exceptional contribution.
There is a fairly strong uptake of our capabilities and our learning programs. In fact, 100% of the organization was affected by different interventions, with over 50% also using MIU, with 1,277 courses completed
We are also pleased with the progress made towards our self-service culture, which is improving to over 95% +, greatly facilitated by our significant investment in IT capabilities and platforms.
Q We now see HR managing portfolios that were previously seen as far removed from their job description. In your opinion, what are the three main skills and attributes of a successful HRD today?
The HRD, while leading the overall strategic HR agenda, must demonstrate skills that are very present on how they present themselves and help navigate to the desired culture and business results.
One that is close to my heart is the skill of active and patient listening before arriving at the solution. The role needs to take the time to understand the details of the business as well as understanding the strategy to know what is distressing us, where the opportunities are and what will help accelerate.
We also need to have channels to understand the pulse of the wider organization on an ongoing and real-time basis, so that we can proactively collaborate and co-create the agenda in an empathetic and inclusive manner.
The HRD must also be a challenger in some way. They must be a mirror for the CEO and the leaders, and bring out opportunities. It is not always easy, it must be done with tact – and above all with care. Ideally, we need to create space for the leader to have their thinking and an “aha” moment on how they can be stronger.
At the organizational level, it is just as important that the HRD is the keeper of the conscience of the organization, that he strongly advocates the values and makes difficult and unpopular choices when necessary – which perhaps is not. not opportune, but with a view to the future that we want to form collectively.
Another key attribute in a hyper-connected world is the skill and attribute of being a Connected Connector. Connect the future to the present. The exterior to the interior and vice versa. Connection between diverse stakeholder groups, across cultures and expectations. It can be a tremendous source of learning, inspiration and raising the bar of possible futures and the way we make them happen.
Photo / Supplied
Read more interviews on why organizations have won awards for their HR practices – visit our Winning Secrets Section!