Ansell: Value system drives employees, company growth
In the world of HBC manufacturing and beyond, the best and brightest people — not the products themselves — have become the linchpin for growth. It’s against this backdrop that Ansell, in the “spirit of growing a positive culture,” has over the past seven years developed a value system that is the basis for recruiting, motivating and training talent.
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“The goal is that everyone will have a vision for themselves and for the company that drives growth and innovation,” said Carol Carrozza, VP marketing, North America for Ansell’s sexual wellness global business unit.
The value system has seven tenets — integrity, trustworthiness, creativity, involvement, passion, agility, teamwork and excellence. These tenets, Carrozza explained, are in Ansell’s view the characteristics of an engaged employee, a future leader and a potential mentor for incoming recruits. “It’s understood that an individual who espouses these qualities will drive an innovative and engaging culture that is people-oriented; candid and transparent; decisive; global-and long-term oriented; driven to be faster, better and smarter; proactive; and risk-tolerant,” she said. “This, more than the fact that someone” has a certain education or worked for a competitor in a similar position, “is what Ansell looks for in its recruits.”
A comprehensive mentoring program complements and supports this value system. To allow for a more open relationship between mentors and mentees, the latter are typically assigned to mentors outside their direct reporting line. Mentors and men-tees are matched according to disciplines, competencies and personal empathy for the individual mentee. The mentor role does not include taking over responsibility for mentee performance reviews or staffing-related decisions from mentees’ managers. It does encompass sharing expertise or perspective to develop a specific mentee skill-set and/or capability, as well as offering clear, concrete suggestions for growth, as well as perspectives based on personal experience. Ansell uses the PIE form of mentoring, especially for female mentees. This, Carrozza said, helps them to build business performance, enhance their executive image and gain exposure.
To illustrate the benefits of the mentoring program, Carrozza shared an anecdote about one woman whom she mentored — an Ansell employee who had come from France to work for the company in the United States. While the woman was “brilliant,” Carrozza recalled, she had difficulty relating to others on her team, and every first interaction with new colleagues “started off on the wrong foot, with a lot of antagonism.” Carrozza determined that part of the issue was related to the fact that the mentee, being French, “loved the debate — which is not something we do in the United States.” In addition to other assistance, Carrozza shared with the mentee four concrete steps to follow when communicating with colleagues — “an approach that would start an open exchange or dialogue.” Considerable improvement followed.
There is other training as well. For instance, Ansell — which has affiliates in more than 50 countries around the world — now maintains a diversity program aimed at assisting its employees in working with people of other cultures and genders. The program includes self-teaching online, as well as in-person workshops held at various times of the year.
“The objective here is that there is compassion and empathy when people work across borders,” Carrozza said.
Training within disciplines — for instance, brand management, manufacturing operation and supply chain — is provided in-house. A three-day leadership workshop rounds out the options.
Training and mentoring notwithstanding, Carrozza said Ansell still encounters challenges related to the new workforce. “They’re not patient, and they have big expectations,” she stated. “They come in and ask how quickly they can become a vice president, and how quickly they can accelerate. We have to set expectations. We say, ‘we’ll work with you, but it has to be a two way street.’ They need to understand and live by our values, and have the competencies that suggest they are ready to move up. It takes effort from both sides, but it can happen when it all comes together.”
Finding the courage to embrace risk
Joe Magnacca, CEO of Massage Envy
In the legendary words of the late, great radio broadcaster Paul Harvey, “And now, the rest of the story.”
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Retail visionary Joe Magnacca, currently CEO of leading massage franchise operation Massage Envy, joined the inaugural Future Leaders Summit, jointly produced by Drug Store News and Mack Elevation Forum, to talk about a subject he knows a lot about — having the courage to take risk.
Indeed, Magnacca’s rather impressive body of work — from 17 years spent at Loblaws to online startup Grocery Gateway, to Shoppers Drug, and then onto the United States, first at Duane Reade and then Walgreens for five years, followed by four tough years at the helm at RadioShack and now leading Massage Envy — has been largely built on embracing risk. In a light, humorous and at times brutally honest discussion, Magnacca explained why he continues to roll the dice and embrace change, outlined his criteria for what defines risk-taking and walked attendees through his own thought processes for some of the biggest decisions he has made over his career.
“To me, risk is all about change. Having the courage to make change in a business, whether it’s an existing business, or a new business or redefining a category — it’s all about change,” Magnacca said.
Being a risk-taker comes down to three key factors, he explained: Having the courage to embrace change; taking that courage to redefine the space you operate in; and in the process of redefining that space, thinking in terms of a revolution rather than an evolution.
But change and taking risk aren’t always so easy to do in the merchant-driven world of retail, Magnacca admitted, where the inclination is to play it safe and to look back to try to replicate past successes rather than look ahead to try to “change the game.”
To help encourage his merchants to “take that second step,” Magnacca challenged his teams at Shoppers, and later at Duane Reade and Walgreens, to look forward to where their businesses were going in the years ahead. “I would use this very simple tactic, and I would encourage you all to view your own businesses this way. I would ask, ‘Where is this category going to be in five years?’”
When you ask a merchant what will happen to their category in five years, you release them from that backward-looking, risk-averse style of thinking, he explained. Once they are focused on the changes that are coming, the discussion shifts to how to get there. “And then I would back that up. So, to do that in five years what needs to happen in three years? And what’s going to happen in three years needs to begin next year, so we have to start on that journey,” he said. “You’ll never start that journey if you don’t know where it is that you’re going.”
Providing a first-hand look at what it means to be a risk-taker and a change agent, Magnacca spoke frankly about one of the most challenging chapters of his career, his decision to leave Walgreens in 2013 — just one week following his promotion to president of the company — to become the CEO of RadioShack.
Looking back on the move, anyone who really knew Magnacca couldn’t have been majorly surprised by the decision, he explained.
“RadioShack, although challenged, had a lot of things going for it,” he said — technology is a fast-growing category, and RadioShack had the potential to harness that growth across its 4,400 U.S.-owned and -operated stores, plus another 1,000 franchised locations. In addition, the company “had an amazing private-brand history,” Magnacca added, a major sweet spot for the career merchant, he confessed.
No doubt, the challenges were significant. For one thing, the company was faced with having to write-off almost 10% of inventory.
Still, despite the challenges — and there were many, from weekly cash meetings to determine things like if the company could afford to buy inventory, make payroll or pay for a promotion, to wrangling with bankers about making critically necessary changes to the business — Magnacca swears he would do it all over again.
A self-proclaimed “merchant first and a marketer second,” the experience at RadioShack forced him out of his comfort zone and made him have to refocus his attention on financials and P&L management. “I don’t regret it,” he said. “Because at the end of the day, what it taught me was that if you don’t take that risk, you’ll never really know what you can achieve.”
Doing well and doing good aren’t mutually exclusive
Altruism and sustainable profits aren’t always concepts you’ll find in the same sentence, but don’t tell that to Dave Simnick.
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Simnick, founder and CEO of SoapBox Soaps, created the company in 2010 to do precisely that — to help people in need around the world while at the same time building a leading CPG brand, and attaching meaningful purpose to a commoditized category — soap.
“The biggest thing we’ve tried to do at SoapBox is change the emotional meaning of something so commoditized as a bar of soap,” Simnick told attendees of the inaugural Future Leaders Summit, jointly presented by Drug Store News and Mack Elevation Forum.
The crucial first step in creating such a business is to distinguish between “cause marketing” and a “purpose-driven” brand. “Cause marketing is an afterthought; purpose is intentional,” he said. Cause marketing is about taking a product that has already existed and “bolting on” a cause to it because the brand needs a new marketing strategy, whereas purpose is “in the DNA of that company,” he said.
As a best-in-class case study of what NOT to do, Simnick shared the example of a 2011 Kentucky Fried Chicken cause-marketing campaign that got blasted on social medial for trying to entice customers to buy a half-gallon fountain soda to help support the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. “There’s a certain irony in trying to raise money for diabetes by potentially giving your customers Type 2 diabetes,” Simnick quipped. “When we look at authenticity and we look at how are we marketing toward millennials, purpose is essential.”
Millennials aside, consumer interest in purpose-driven companies and brands isn’t just a trend or some passing fad, Simnick noted. According to the 2012 Edelman Goodpurpose survey, 76% of consumers around the world believe it’s right for a company to support an important cause while making a profit at the same time. Fifty-three percent rank the social purpose of a company or brand as the No. 1 reason for making a purchase when all other factors, such as price and quality, are equal. In fact, 44% of consumers around the world would be willing to trade up and pay a premium for a brand associated with a strong purpose.
“The point is purpose matters, and after 10 years of research, the data says … you will outperform your competitors 12-fold if you have [a strong] purpose,” noted Future Leaders Summit moderator Dan Mack, managing director of Mack Elevation Forum. Purpose does more than activate your consumer base, it galvanizes your employee base, too. “A purpose mobilizes people in a way that pursuing profits never can; … purpose is bigger; it’s transformative.”
Simnick provided three additional learnings for how to make purposeful marketing work for a brand:
1. Quality matters: Crunching the numbers on a one-for-one, purpose-driven deal — Soap-Box Soaps promises to donate one bar of soap to a community in need for every bar purchased — can be a challenge. But sacrificing quality in an effort to drive more dollars to the bottom line may lead your promotion to bottom out. “The giveback — that purpose — is the cherry on top. That consumer still wants the best thing; that’s the reason they’re buying it,” Simnick said. “The reason she buys us the first time is because of the mission. The reason she continues to buy [us] is because of the efficacy of the product.”
2. Keep the message simple: Another lesson Simnick learned was to keep the offer simple — consumers don’t buy into an offer they can’t understand. “When [consumers are] looking at purpose, cents and percentages don’t make sense to them,” he said. “If someone here told me that they gave 5% of gross to this one charity, that [would be] an amazing financial commitment. The problem is consumers don’t get that. They look at that and think, ‘Where’s the other 95% going?’”
3. Authenticity and transparency seal the deal: Finally, with a smartphone literally at everyone’s fingertips — about 198.9 million consumers in the United States own a smartphone according to the latest comScore figures — verifying the authenticity of a deal has become easier than ever. To prove that SoapBox is delivering on its brand promise, each SoapBox package has a unique tracking code, branded the “Hope Code,” that can pinpoint where in the world the donated bar will be heading. “We have to prove to [the consumer] how they are part of the narrative that we are co-writing,” Simnick explained.