Join us for an Executive Interview with Donzel Leggett, Vice President of Global Manufacturing Excellence, Global Platforms & Asia/LATAM Supply Chain at General Mills, as he explains his job function and his definition of "Inspire for Breakthrough World Class Performance."
- Competitive advantage comes down to our ability to develop a purpose that people feel is great for them in terms of giving their discretionary time to make the organization better.
- Never underestimate the power of inspiration.
- Begin understanding and developing your digital roadmaps for the future.
Hello, everyone, and welcome to the impact smart manufacturing and r&d virtual summit hosted on quartz network. My name is Brooke earler, qm executive correspondent, thank you for joining us. I would like to welcome our executive speaker Donzell Leggett, Vice President of global manufacturing excellence, global platforms, and Asia latam supply chain at General Mills. Welcome. Thank you, Britt. It’s great to be here. It’s a pleasure to have you here and really excited to dive into this conversation today. But I want to start by asking you about the very interesting title that you have. Can you explain it and how you cover all of these different areas?
Yeah, again, thank you for having me. Britt. It’s a mouthful, there’s no question about that. But it has some, some unique differences, but some common threads that bring it all together. So global manufacturing excellence, is all about developing the standard of World Class manufacturing for General Mills, building the content in the training, and then the process for implementing those standards across all of our facilities worldwide. So it’s a centralized role that provides support to all of our geographic regions, alright, global platforms, is all about, again, a centralized rule providing support, but in this case, is providing support on on manufacturing platforms that we don’t necessarily have in every region. But we want to sell those products across geographic regions, right. So that sometimes means we’ll have a manufacturing base in one country that supporting multiple countries, or we have maybe two manufacturing locations and supporting multiple countries. So we need sometimes solutions that go across business units that need to be developed that are best for the enterprise. And that’s where our group comes in. And then the third area is is this Asia, Latin America, supply chain leadership. And so our organization is set up by segment, we have the North America segment, the Europe Australia segment. And then we have our emerging market segments, which are made up of Asia, Latin America. And so we have supply chain leaders for those two developed markets, really, Europe in North America, and then I’m the supply chain leader for for Asia, Latin America. How it all ties together, though, is that the majority of what we’re doing in terms of global manufacturing excellence, where it has the biggest uplift so far is in our Asia, Latin America. Mark says the biggest impact businesses. I’ll talk about that later on some examples. But the second thing is some of our biggest global platforms on that world, the biggest one is Haagen dazs, ice cream. And in our the biggest share of our businesses in Asia, Latin America is Haagen dazs ice cream. So although it’s it’s very diverse, it seems like a lot to say, it all kind of comes back together. And the reason why that it’s it’s one of those roles where I’m passionate about inspired about, but also can maintain my sanity. And my work life balance is because I have a tremendous team, highly talented and diverse people who work together across geographic boundaries, what you would think would be cultural boundaries, language boundaries, to perform at a level better than any team that I’ve ever been a part of.
That’s fantastic. And it is so crucial to every part of an organization to have that team of people that is willing to adapt, willing to change and really willing to work hard to make the goals for the entire company as a whole happen. So congratulations. That’s a huge accomplishment for you. Now, talk to me a little bit about more of the focus of this conversation today. I know we were talking about inspiring, breakthrough world class performance. Talk to me more about what that means to you.
Well, to me, when we think about supply chain in particular manufacturing, the the biggest opportunity to create competitive advantage comes in the form of inspiration. Now, many leaders will say it’s all about, you know, manufacturing, for Dotto, and in the digital revolution. And that’s great. And it can be but we have to think about manufacturing in our companies across a vast spectrum. Well, typically we think about we’re thinking about big multinational companies that have the resources to go out and invest in it may be digital technologies, things like that. We think that they’re all manufacturing high margin products, products that for every unit, there’s huge profit margin. The truth is that most manufacturers is not big manufacturing companies or big multinationals. It’s local companies, it’s smaller companies, it’s maybe big companies, but their profit margins are on things like commodities, they may not be making a huge amount of profit. So the fact of the matter is very few manufacturers can go out and sign 100 million dollar checks to get the newest ABS system, or the brand new automation systems. So for the most part, they’re reliant on people. They’re reliant on even the ones that invest in technology, at some point, rely on people. So the competitive advantage comes down to how much can we develop a purpose that our people feel is great for them in terms of giving their discretionary time to make the organization better? Because they’re not going to do that just because they’re being paid money? They can get money, other places? The question is, how Why would they give discretionary time and effort? And that’s going to be is the purpose, something that’s bigger than them and bigger than the company? That’s number one, and then to what’s in it for them? besides just getting a paycheck? What’s in it for them? How are their skills being improved? How are they feel like their family’s going to be better off, that’s our job as leaders to understand that, and then create a strategy that inspires them by saying, I can be part of this purpose that’s bigger than just this, this one job and this one company, it’s going to benefit me, because of x, y, z. If we can do that, then we can generate breakthrough performance. It starts with purpose, safety, ensuring that people know that they’re cared about, and that you’re going to make sure that they come in, do everything they can, but go home safely the way they came in, we’re going to make sure that we perform at a level in which they feel proud that they can tell their kids, their family, their brother, their sister, man, look at what I was able to do, as part of this organization. That’s what inspiration is about. It’s about giving people a feeling that they accomplished something that they did not think was possible before. If we can do that, we can do anything in manufacturing supply chain. And that’s the competitive advantage. That’s what we’re trying to do. That’s what I set out to do every single day, across hundreds 1000s of miles of geography with my team, how do I keep them inspired, to everyday feel like I’m doing something special that no one thought was possible?
I have to tell you, I’m inspired. That’s incredible. And not many companies have that focus in place. And I think you nailed it right on the head when you said it is so much about the people. A lot of times when people look for jobs. Now, they’re not just looking, as you mentioned, for a monetary value, they’re looking to join a company that matches the values, the motto is that they haven’t placed themselves personally. And it’s also the sense of humanity, where if we’re going to find a silver lining that really happened with COVID, it’s that we have this more human factor now where we care about people’s lives at home, and how they’re actually feeling and succeeding within the organization. And I think it’s crucial to the success of every company moving forward. Do you have some real world examples that you can give us where this inspiration has really led to World Class performance?
Well, Brett, you just brought up COVID-19, which, you know, I don’t think there’s anybody that I would believe that would tell me that, if they go went back to December of 2019, they would have predicted that the entire world would basically be shut down for a couple of months, and that for a year over a year, there would be you know, people who just don’t go to work anymore. And that we would be in a situation where a pandemic took control of the world, and is infecting hundreds of millions and killing millions of people. No one saw this thing coming. Nobody saw this come. manufacturers were impacted pretty significantly in two vectors, one, many of the manufacturers, including us, we have people working very closely together, which means they’re in close contact and we have a virus of this magnitude that’s comes through in terms of the contagiousness of this virus that puts you at risk, put your operation at risk. So number one, it became what how are we going to deal with this? How are suppliers going to deal with this? But secondly, many of us in food, particularly packaged food, had the opposite problem that many other manufacturers did not have. And that is our demand went up. Because people were stuck at home. And they didn’t have the ability to go out to dinner anymore. So they were buying more things to fill their pantry. So here’s what what we did. And I’ll tell you this, specifically from our team in China, Latin America, Brazil, particularly India, because that’s that’s where my accountabilities are, but the company in general did the same thing. The first thing we did is we didn’t think about how are we going to compete in this world. The First thing we did is, say in this COVID-19 world this pandemic, how do we keep our people safe? Number one, how do we keep our people safe? And not just safe in our factories? Or in our DCs or offices? But how do we keep them safe on their way to work? How do we keep them safe on their way home? How do we keep them safe at home? How do we keep them safe when they have to go out into the public? For whatever reason? Yes, our office employees can just work from home. But our plan employees can’t do that. And they need to work they need their jobs. So we have to find the number one way to keep them safe. And then we have to figure out can we indoctrinate that with protocols, policies, procedures, so they were confident that our team members will feel better at work than they would in society? That was the number one thing that we did, once we got that figured out, then it came down. Okay, now that we’ve got this, how are we able to produce to keep our supply chain going, so that we can deliver the products that people need right now, while they’re stuck at home? You know, so that was the next thing. The third thing we said is, again, back to your point around, people want to know, what are we doing above and beyond? What can we do in our communities to help during this pandemic, though, three simple things, protect our people, keep them safe, keep them healthy, keep our supply chain operating, and do what we can our communities to lead to be a force for good. That’s what we said. Drill that home to our team over and over and over, we’re not going to run we’re not going to do unless we keep everyone safe. China was the first place where the virus hit, our team in China was on ground zero, they really did a fantastic job of developing the protocols and procedures to keep people safe and operate safely. From the beginning of this pandemic, to now we haven’t had one positive infection of our employee base in China of our plant employees, which is incredible. We had the government last Chinese New Year, when all manufacturing was shut down, we were one of the first companies they allowed to run again, because our team figured out the best way to keep our people safe, and demonstrate that we could keep it going and be resilient and robust with that. We then shared that knowledge across our entire company. And I can tell you that we have been able to keep our people relatively safe, I’d say pretty much as safe, as is any manufacturer, probably more. So in Brazil, we had government employees or government agencies come in, you know, take a look what we’re doing for regulatory standpoint to make sure that we’re running on the right protocols. They gave us the feedback, we need to take what you’re doing and share with other manufacturers. Same thing in India. Regulators told us the same thing. But the most important thing I’m impressed with is our employees told us they felt safer in our plants than they did in the community. All right, that was our inspiration to keep our people safe. How did it manifest. So I said, we want to just keep the supply chain going right? Just don’t lose ground, don’t shut down, let’s just hold where we were.
But because we took care of people. And we focused on people, our priority was ensuring that our folks would not only were taken care of, but were inspired. You know, I was in contact we did I was releasing videos, I did a video where I just worked out of sweating. I put it out on on our internal social media so everyone could see we’re none of us are taking this like we’re all, you know, just executives and I’m going to be you know, I got a different life than you know, we’re all the same. We’re all just trying to get through and get by. I’m with you. Because of those types of things and the great leaders we have in our markets, we didn’t just stay even our volume went up. In some cases by 50%. Our customer service is in the high Knight the mid to high 90s around 95%. Our customer service, our print performance, though this is the one that’s just unbelievable, even to me. We increased our plant performance, how well our lines run by over 10 points, not percent, 10 points, 10 points. That’s hard to do in manufacturing very hard 10 points while we’re fighting a pandemic. If that’s the inspiration that didn’t tell you the power of inspiration, I can’t tell you what does just in December alone, where most plants see a dip in performance because of the holidays and the end of year, we delivered six points of improvement in just December. So when I tell you that inspiration matters and as a competitive advantage, I’m telling you from direct experience in one of the most difficult circumstances I’ve ever worked in, and we were able to do that by having our entire organization spread across literally the globe.
It’s It’s incredible. I’ve truly never heard of a company that You know, uses their people in a way that makes sense to them and the goals of the company as a whole, you treat them as if their family. And I think for a large organization like General Mills, it’s just not a sort of in the workspace right now. And I think it’s such a beautiful thing that you guys are together and truly an inspiration for other companies out there to do the same. Now many of them are starting to begin this journey and realize the importance of their people and their employees. But what key areas do you believe that they should focus on to start putting these strategies in place?
Yeah, so I talked about a couple already. One is purpose, what really does your business stand for. And this is not only something you should be focusing on or working on, in terms of the current employees you have in keeping them there and getting them inspired. But recruiting, like you said, a lot of the younger folks are coming up, they’re making their choices on where they want to spend their time of their life, they may not work for you forever, these, a lot of kids are thinking I’m going to work somewhere, maybe seven different places, eight different places. But if I want to give two years of my life, three years, five years of my life to this place, I want it to be some something a place that that’s doing something more than just making production product, or selling product, I want to be fighting racism, I want them to be spreading anti racism and try to break down the systems and structures that are holding people down. I want them to be doing something to change the destruction of our environment. So that when my kids and my grandkids are around, they’re in Juliet, they can go to the park, they can go to the beach, they can do the things that I would love to do. I want to know, what are they doing to fight world hunger? What actionable items are they taking? What are they doing to stop, you know, sex trafficking? Those are all things that because there’s so many problems in the world that every business can lean into, and do something about. So what is your purpose? What really are you trying to do as a business, it can’t just be, I’m here to just make money. So that’s number one, keep people safe. I talked a lot about that as number two. Number three is engaging people, what does engagement truly mean? It doesn’t mean involve, involve as a choice, you know, you could be involved and really matter if you are an engagement means, you know, we’re going to interlock together for mutual benefit. That means the team member works with the company. But that means not only company gets something to team members should get something, and the company needs to be open leaders like me, as a vice president need to be open, that there’s, there’s a guy who’s 19 years old, who may have just gotten hired out in Brazil, he didn’t go to college, but he may have a better idea than I do. And I want to make sure that engagement is understood to be that everyone has an opportunity to bring their best self table and give their best ideas. And that means if his hair’s gonna look different, that’s fine. You know, that means if you know, his appearance is a little different than we’re used to, that’s fine. If he talks a little different, that’s fine. If the language in one country is different, and yet we speak English, because we’re northern North American company, maybe I should learn the language that he’s speaking, maybe I should be forced to try to change how I do things, so that he feels more comfortable, or she feels more comfortable engagement is about ensuring not only that people are part of the process, but they can change the process. That’s what we need in manufacturing and supply chain. There’s no way because a supply chain is so complex, we know that a plant is so complex, there’s no way that one person, I don’t care how smart they are, there’s no way than five people, their engineers can solve every problem. The solution to the problems are all the people on your team create an environment in which they all feel engaged, inspired, and willing to give to hit that purpose that’s bigger than everyone.
I think the key there and you said it perfectly, you know, really is to stay open minded, constantly educate yourself and know that, as you mentioned, made me an expert in the field. But that doesn’t mean you know everything. There’s always going to be someone out there that has amazing idea. And unless you give those people the opportunities, you’re never going to find that. And I think that’s incredible what you guys have been able to put in place. And based on what you’ve seen so far in in the major steps that the manufacturing and supply chain industry has seen. They still have a long way to go. But what trends Do you foresee coming up in years to come?
Yeah, so I do think and I’ve talked a lot about inspiration, purpose, and real leadership engagement. I think those are evergreen. But I do think it is time for us to start understanding and developing what I will call our digital roadmaps for the future. Because those tools I think we got to think through and this is where sometimes manufacturing leaders get a little bit of trouble, because we tend to always think of things as justification terms. And so it’s like I’m going to invest in technology to eliminate people’s jobs. We got to Getting more efficient, we have to save costs. But think of it as jobs changing jobs moving to different levels, the capability levels increasing, right? Instead of I want to get to a point where there’s no people, that’s not where we’re going. First of all, it’s gonna be very difficult to engage people to bring their ideas forward. If the zero sum game is they their jobs all go away. You know, we all know that there’s utilitarian view of looking at things. And you know, we want the company to survive so that people have jobs. And sometimes you got to make tough decisions to do that. You have to sacrifice here to grow there, right. But when we think about data analytics, when we’re talking about manufacturing for data, we’re thinking about using technology to jumpstart our productivity, and our agility and our ability to adapt. To me, the key is thinking about building a roadmap that enables you to take better advantage of people’s talent, where they’re more engaged it where jobs changed, and then think about what are you going to do to create the capabilities going to be required in that new world? And how is that that glide path going to be built? That’s kind of where I’m where my thinking is, right now. We know that going forward, for us to be competitive, we have to bring in, adapt and adjust to more technologies becoming cheaper, easier to get, everyone has a phone, no matter where you are in the world, and things that you know, we didn’t think we could do 20 years ago, everyone can. So the question for manufacturers is, what’s your glide path to take advantage of technology, but at the same time, build the capability of the folks in your organization and create jobs and roles that feel like growth to everyone so that they are inspired to be part of that transformation, not trying to push and fight against it?
Absolutely. And yet, with all of that, and all the major focuses that these organizations are going through at the end of the day, it all comes back to the people, it’s full circle, and it never stops no matter what industry or what business that you’re in. So I completely agree with you. And for other leaders, you know, that are in a similar position as yourself, either their roles have expanded, or they changed. They may be dealing with new team members, even veteran team members, what final pieces of advice do you have from them to make it through this time and really make sure that they’re helping the company succeed as a whole?
Great question, Brent, first off, take care of yourself. Yes, make sure that you are feeding your holistic balance in your personal well being. If you’re spending 20 hours a day, on computers, or on your smartphone, and only four hours with did for sleep or you know healthy living, you can’t sustain that. And not only is it not good for you, it’s not good for your people, because you’re setting the wrong example for them. First of all, secondly, there’s no way you’re going to be at your best when you’re talking to them. Every time I have a meeting with one of my team members, I don’t care what level they are. I talked to a guy in China last night who was you know, kind of a guy just six, seven years out of college. And we were talking about how I remember, yeah, he remembers the first big presentation he gave was to me, and how I made him feel confident. And now I see how he’s grown and developed. And now he’s got a little boy and he’s happy. He’s got he’s married. And all those things. Every time I talk to him, I want him to feel like that. He’s the only one I ever talked to, you know, when I’m, every time I’m talking to one of my teammates, or team members, I want them to feel like they’re getting the very best of me. Well, if I’m working 20 hours a day, and I’m sleeping four hours a night, there’s no way that I’m going to give them my best, right? So I want to make sure that I’m setting the right example. But I also want to make sure that I’m always at the peak that I can be so that they get my best, because I know if they get my best, they’re going to be inspired to give every second of their discretionary time to making our purpose a reality. So take care of yourself. Schedule your day, it has balanced, you know, whatever, you know, I would my recommendation I can tell you what I do. You know, I’m not working more than 10 hours a day. And I’m breaking that day up. So I can work out at some point, get some exercising, so that my body feels good. I’m feeding my mind. I’m going to take some time to read pleasure reading, not just reading up on the next meeting, you know, pre reading for tomorrow. That’s important, but you got to feed your mind as well. It takes some time to have some fun. You know, spend time with your family every day, not just at the weekend. Spend time with your family, you know, binge a television show that that makes you laugh or makes you think, right. You always want to make sure that you’re taking care of yourself if you’re not taking care of yourself. You can’t inspire people. So that would be the one thing I want to leave other supply chain supply chain leadership is one of the hardest jobs you can have industry. You know, I know people say that marketing jobs are hard sales job. The heart, they don’t have to leave a diverse group of people like we do. They don’t have the pressures every day to deliver like we do in people’s lives on the line, like they are a manufacturing facility, it takes a lot of energy. You have to make sure you’re feeding that energy and taking care of yourself. All right, bring your best every day like taking care of yourself.
I think that is the best advice I’ve truly ever heard. And I think one that a lot of people will resonate with. Last year I was working 12 hour days was not taking care of myself, just trying to make it through and make sure I was hitting the goals to keep our company afloat. But I think most people’s main focus this year is to take care of themselves, because they’ve realized the toll, it’s not only taken on them, but the people that work around them and the happiness that they feel as well. You cannot do your job successfully unless you are happy doing it. And so I think to your point, you know, take care of yourself, number one, so that you can then in turn, take care of your team. So fantastic advice for not only people in manufacturing and supply chain industries, but any business across the board. And I want to thank you personally for everything that you are not only doing for your team, but for our community as well and being an inspiration for everyone to really grow and make the changes that we need to to become the world that we truly know we can be. So thank you so much for being here. It’s been an absolute pleasure. And thank you to everyone who has joined us as well. If you have any further questions, there will be a discussion forum underneath this presentation. Please be safe everyone be healthy and enjoy the rest of the summit.
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