Meet Marcelo: Business strategist and former Joy Ambassador, based in Argentina

Mondelez International’s commitment to sustainability is one of the reasons why Marcelo, now a Senior Business Development Manager, has stayed with the company for more than a decade. Starting out as a process engineer, he has taken advantage of opportunities to move into more strategic management roles and to gain international experience, as he explains here…

Why did you decide to switch from engineering to management?

I studied mechanical engineering in my home country of Brazil and during my studies I did an internship at Bosch. I also have a post-graduation degree in strategic management.

I joined Mondelēz International in 2008 as a trainee on a one-year rotational program, so I saw all the areas of the company and the different functions. My first job was process engineering. I met a lot of people inside the Curitiba plant in Brazil and realized that I could also have a management career.

I thought I could have more impact on people's families and lives, so I changed from pure engineering to people management. I was promoted to manufacturing section manager, with a team of people reporting to me. That combined projects and technical work with contact with people.

I stayed in the role for four more years. My responsibility was to guarantee that all the Easter and Variety Box products inside the chocolate plant were being produced properly with respect to specifications, quality and safety. There were more than 1000 people in my team, with 20 reporting directly to me and the rest reporting into them.

What happened next?

I was invited to go to our headquarters in Sao Paulo to take over a business development function. This was a good way for a person coming from the plant to adapt to the business. The role is to translate to the plant what the commercial teams want in terms of product, future capacity and capabilities – to guarantee the necessary investment to fulfil the future. I was able to use my technical knowledge of the plant and the relationships I’d developed over the years. It was useful for my development too because I got in touch with marketing, sales, finance and so on.

That was four years ago in Sao Paulo and now with recent restructuring I was invited to come as an expat to Argentina where the business unit includes Uruguay and Paraguay. It's the same business development job, but I'm gaining international experience. It's a country with a complex and different economic situation so I think it's a win-win for the company and for me. I’m enjoying it a lot.

In Brazil I was working mainly with chocolate. Now I'm responsible for all the categories that we sell in the region, including chocolate, biscuits, gums, candies, powder beverages and meals.

We’re very successful in these countries and have number one brands in almost every category; you see our products everywhere. I have a team of 11 people, divided into different categories along the lines of the brands.

So, what do you do day to day?

My role is 70% strategic and 30% hands on, because we are the brain of supply chain. We discuss the future with the commercial teams and talk to engineering and manufacturing about what we need to do in the plant. A good percentage of the work is a daily follow-up to make sure that everybody is doing what we planned.

What’s the culture like at Mondelēz International?

Diversity and flexibility are values that we include in our daily routines. We see diversity every day in both gender and people with different languages and backgrounds; there is no difference here.

It's a listening type of organization. You can take your ideas to leaders and know that your ideas will be explored. Responsibility increases but that's one of the things that helps you to grow fast.

Sustainability is important; for example, we are committed to sustainable cocoa sourcing. In 2017 I was proud to be selected to be a ‘Joy Ambassador’ and I went to Ghana to see the cocoa fields.

We saw the work Mondelēz International does in partnership with farmers to help them be more effective and improve their yields; to learn admin skills so they can take more from the business. We saw women working and taking decisions equally with men. That was when my purpose and belief in the company increased. I could really see that when I was selling chocolate, I was helping a farmer in Ghana or in another cocoa origin country to develop and to keep his children in school.

The other day I was looking at photographs from 20 or 25 years ago with my family, in which I was sharing Lacta chocolate Easter eggs (made by Mondelēz International) with my sisters and my parents. As a child, I was already eating their products. Who could know that one day I would be working for the company?

Mondelēz International is very dynamic. We try to adapt the company to what is happening in the market and in the world. If you are a person who doesn't like change and wants a stable job, it is probably not the best place for you to be. But if you'd like to be challenged constantly and to involve yourself in a lot of things, this is the right company for sure.

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