At the time of the interview, Sunil Sethi was the Managing Director of Mondelez International. He has been in the role for three years and he describes it as ‘one of the most exciting and value added experience’ he has had in his career.
Sunil has worked for over 25 years with FMCG Organisations with many different roles in strategy, sales, marketing and general management roles. He has worked in startup organisations and established businesses across countries.
As an accredited coach, we asked Sunil about the role that coaching played in setting the vision and transformation of the organisation.
Sunil’s first exposure to coaching was when he had ambitions to be a general manager. He shares that he, ‘expected the coach to give him the steps – do this, this this to become a general manager’. Instead the coach asked him: ‘Why do you want to be a general manager?’
Through the coaching he realised that his fulfillment was coming via helping people realise their potential. And as a general manager he could help a larger number of people.
He got out of the ‘rat race’ in its strictest classical sense of climbing to the next step of the corporate ladder. For him, his progression became about ‘expanding his ability to help people on their professional journey.’
When he joined Mondelez, they had just had two integrations – Kraft had acquired Cadbury and Danone. Whilst the integration had happened on paper, the ‘hearts and minds’ of people were not together. So this was a challenge that he inherited. Sunil says ‘there were challenges around strategy; challenges around people and challenges around process’
Sunil had experience in facing such challenges in the past, however he says he ‘had never experienced such challenges all together and yet, this was the most exciting part of his role’. He was presented with an absolute transformation opportunity and every bit of the challenge inspired him to say ‘I can fix this’.
He worked on aligning the minds of people into one common vision and purpose and focused on changing the leadership team to people who wanted to join the team because they wanted to leave a legacy.
His leadership team is passionate about saying ‘how do we build the business and at the same time, leave a legacy’.
Sunil describes the early days of the transformation of the business.
‘With his leadership teams and extended teams, they defined the “People Performance Culture”.’ ‘This means’, explains Sunil, ‘that we are an organisation that will help people realise their potential and in doing so, they will deliver high performance. And also it’s important that as individuals, we want to feel successful in our performance.’
During the integration he inspired his team to imagine five years forward and asked them to think about ‘what is the success story that you can share about how you turned around the business’. They did an exercise of ‘writing the press release’ and this got people thinking ‘what do they have to do differently to realise their vision? What is the one thing that you will do that will take you to this level?’
They decided that ‘we will be the best run business in Kraft world by 2016 – we will deliver our financial targets consistently and we will be a role model business in terms of processes and people.’
Sunil is clear that as a leader and coach, ‘you can unleash phenomenal amounts of personal fulfillment within people and as they feel fulfilled and happy, as they realise their potential, the business receives the performance it needs.’
The Mondelez International story shares the passion of an MD who spearheaded a Coaching Culture in his organization. For the full article and more Coaching case studies, check out our latest book, “Bring Out Their Best – Inspiring a Coaching Culture in Your Workplace”. You can get a copy of the book here clicking here!
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