AUSTRALIAN LEADERSHIP TEAM

DAVID PITT
DAVID PITT

GENERAL MANAGER AUSTRALIA
........................................................................................................................................

Coming from a Sales & Marketing background, what challenges have you faced, since assuming responsibility for the entire Australian business operation?

It's been a really interesting transition. The principles of leadership I believe remain the same, but there is now a necessity to look at the bigger picture, with every decision I make. Previously, wearing a commercial hat, I'd make calls based solely on volume, revenue, margin or market share. Now I have to contemplate how those decisions might play out in the broader business. What are the implications for instance for Manufacturing - the factories - or for Supply Chain for example. And those implications can be both short term and long term. It's a completely different way of thinking, and in that sense, a great challenge.


Do you have a favourite "business principle" that you abide by?

Simplicity. Keeping everything as simple as possible. It's a company value as well. If there's too much complexity in what you're doing, some people are likely to be left behind. And you need everybody on the same page, right from the get go. So use that as the common denominator and take people on the journey with you as you build from there.


What sort of qualities do you look for when you're recruiting?

It might sound a little cliche, but I defer to Jack Welch's four "Es". Energy - crucial to performance in any business. Energizers - the ability to spark others, but also set an example and take responsibility for their own actions. Edge - competitive types willing to make the hard call, never allowing the degree of difficulty to get in their way. And finally Execute - action. Getting stuff done. You can talk all you like, but nothing happens in business until somebody sells something!.


People or Task - what's more important?

At the start of my career, it was all task. To my own detriment. Through age and experience (and lots of candid feedback!) I've come to realise that a balance between the two is essential. That's the very foundation of a sustainable business. Now, developing people is my passion. Delivering Sales growth will always be the aim of the game, however the rewarding part is to see people grow in their roles. Provide support to get that right and the big sales numbers will come. In a similar sense, I believe senior executives can always learn from junior staff as well. They're often looking at the world through fresh eyes, and that can be invaluable so I try and make myself as approachable and accessible as possible. That way, they are more likely to tell me what they're really thinking.
DAVID PITT
DAVID PITT
MAL CARSELDINE

SALES DIRECTOR
........................................................................................................................................

Rumor has it that sometime in an earlier life you were selling computer systems in Bulgaria. Is that true?

Yep– good research! Straight out of Uni actually, I was part of an exchange program where you were dispatched to far away places in the world – I finished up in Bulgaria. I was there for six months.


Did you sell many computer systems?

Very few as a matter of fact! It was a bit of stretch, not being able to speak the language. What was worse, Bulgaria’s one of the few places where the nodding of the head actually means “no”. It took me most of my time over there to work that out! No wonder I had limited success.


What if anything did you learn from your world travels that you’re now applying to your career with Parmalat.

I think to be curious. See, watch and learn. Also the value of getting out of your comfort zone. I spent a lot of time backpacking around Central & South America which was a bit hairy at times. But being out of your comfort zone is where you learn the most and create your best memoRies.


What do you enjoy about working for Parmalat?

I love the Dairy industry for starters. There are so many nuances that have to be taken into account before you can arrive at the correct commercial decision. Parmalat specific - you have permission to make change. In fact it’s expected. Across the business, we are all challenging ourselves with the same question: is there a better way of doing things?


And that’s what you try and instill in your team?

Absolutely. It links back to curiosity. Keep your eyes and ears open. There are good ideas and opportunities everywhere!

DAVID PITT
DAVID PITT
ANGELA BURR

MARKETING DIRECTOR
........................................................................................................................................

As a relative newcomer to Parmalat, what have been your general observations? How for instance does it differ from other companies that you’ve worked for?

Well, in answer to the first part of the question, culturally it’s definitely exceeded my expectations. It’s an exciting place to work. There’s an entrepreneurial spirit within the business that I’ve never before encountered. People are encouraged to think outside the box, to back their judgment and take calculated risks. It makes for a very positive and energetic environment. As far as what makes it different - probably just the sense of fun. It’s very a very “uncorporate” corporate environment, if that makes sense. There’s no time or room for political games.


The explosion of social media over the past five to 10 years – that must have made your life as a marketer interesting?

It sure has! It's presented some challenges but on the flip side, so many opportunities that at times, it’s been hard to know where to start! In years gone by, marketing was all about pushing a message. Today it’s about conversations and interaction. Through all the social media channels, there’s a genuine opportunity to connect with consumers – not only understand what they like and don’t like – but why. Their beliefs and attitudes. Having access to such rich information – in real time - allows us to better understand the emerging trends. The other key difference for me is the importance now of agility – being able and prepared to act quickly. The world is moving at such a pace there’s no time to sit around in “committees”, pondering whether something will or won’t work. You have to act, which is where backing your instinct comes into play.


That’s the new world externally – what about internally? Has social media changed the way you interact with your peers? Even across other functions within the business?

It’s certainly helped people feel more connected. Within the marketing team for instance, we use “What’s App” to share images and information, war stories, successes, even red flags. That all contributes to a sense of “team”, as well aiding the agility piece. I think the other beauty from a leadership perspective is being able to share more of yourself with your team. Every now and then for instance, posting a photo of what you’re doing with your kids on the weekend. I think that helps break down barriers, because it’s not an email or a 20-slide powerpoint deck relating to work. It’s just people being real people.


How important is recruitment? What do you look for in team members?

I’m incredibly careful as to whom I bring into the business. The culture at Parmalat is precious – we all have an obligation to protect it. The key for me is striking a balance between technical excellence and personality. Excellence is a given, because if they’re not smart, it’s unlikely they are going to be able to step up to the plate and contribute to the team, Then nobody wins. But beyond that – recruiting the right style of person is critical. Anybody we think might have a propensity for rocking the boat or playing political games simply doesn't get a look in!


DAVID PITT
DAVID PITT
JENNI BOOTH

CUSTOMER MARKETING DIRECTOR
........................................................................................................................................

Interesting times in the world of customer marketing – tell us about some of the significant shifts that have taken place in the marketing landscape over the past five years.

The biggest change clearly has been the acceleration of social media, and all the opportunities that have come through those new communication platforms. Consumers interact and response in real time to brand conversations creating meaningful two-way interactions. It is these interactions where we can have the greatest impact and importantly collect the greatest insights to ensure that what we deliver is meaningful and relevant. This shift in marketing means that agility and flexibility are paramount and we need to ensure that we are constantly monitoring and adapting so that we stay on course.


Consumers and shoppers? Aren't they the same thing?

Not necessarily. The shopper is exactly that, the person who purchases the product whilst the consumer is the one that, as the name suggests, consumes the product. In some instances they are one in the same but in many categories these people differ dramatically.

As a shopper it is important that we seek to understand the complex retail environment and ensure that our brands and products are appealing, stand out, get noticed and importantly end up in the basket. Whilst brand plays a critical role there are many other factors that influence whether or not the product passes through the check-out and this area of marketing is quickly evolving.

The consumer however is always front and centre of our thinking because we need to ensure that both our brand promise and our product delivery meets expectations time and time again so that it is in the consideration set for the shopper.


As a manager, what qualities do you look for in team members?

People with positive energy because it is this quality that brings other people together and has the ability to create momentum and ground swell behind ideas. Importantly I also want my team members to be entrepreneurial in their thinking, with a clear ability to take risks and learn from mistakes, ensuring a process of constant improvement.


The team piece is important?

Hell yes! They can have all the other qualities, but they need to demonstrate a willingness to participate, to add value, to engage in a positive manner. Passion and positive energy is essential, because it’s contagious.


What has experience taught you?

Just have a go. Take risks. There’s little merit in simply replicating what everybody else is doing. Try different stuff, without fear that it’s not perfect. Take the learnings and let the idea evolve. Because one thing for sure - if you’re aiming for perfection – you’re destined for disappointment!

DAVID PITT
DAVID PITT
MIA MARYESKI

NATIONAL SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGER
........................................................................................................................................

What’s the Mia Maryeski story?

Well… it’s a little complicated. I'm actually Canadian. I was born in the US, but grew up in French-speaking Quebec City, in Canada. After completing my MBA, I went travelling with friends from school – Australia was the first stop on a world trip. I met my Australian husband in Sydney, and three kids later, we’re still here!


What do you like about working in Australia?

I really like the Australian work culture - people don’t take themselves too seriously but they are serious about getting the job done.


Supply Chain Manager – you must be good with numbers?

I have a degree in mathematics and I've always loved problem-solving. But with Supply Chain being the link between the commercial side of the business – Sales and Marketing and Manufacturing - communication is also critical, particularly given the acquisitions and growing complexity of the Parmalat business over the past few years.


As a manager, what do you try and impress upon your team?

encourage them to try new and different things, knowing that I have their back if they come up short. The only real failure in my mind is the failure to experiment and push the boundaries. They’re a great team. Their dedication and desire to get our products delivered to our customers in a timely matter, in this ever-changing environment, is inspiring.


Work-life-balance, what does that mean to you?

Life is very full with three kids and a husband who also works full time. The key for me is flexibility. I find the concept of work-life integration works well. I don’t feel guilty if I need to leave early to take one of my boys to basketball, but I also don’t feel guilty logging on to work for a few hours once the kids are asleep.

DAVID PITT
DAVID PITT
DEAN SAPPEY

FINANCE DIRECTOR
........................................................................................................................................

Tell us about your career.

A lot of time working for different Food and Beverage companies, basically. I’ve been lucky enough to work with some great brands and some great people, and as a relatively recent arrival at Parmalat, I know that good fortune is destined to continue.


Word has it that not all your years have been spent working in Finance?

That’s right. I spent some time in HR, which is probably not a traditional career path for a beanie, but I really enjoyed it.


What experience did you gain working in HR that you’re now applying to the world of Finance?

It certainly helped me from a change management perspective. Enrolling people in change, communicating change - there’s always plenty of change happening in Finance, so that aspect of the role was very beneficial. More broadly, I think working in any different area is valuable because it broadens your understanding of the business, and how the various functions fit and work together.


What do you see as the core purpose of the Finance function?

It’s about partnering and providing value, not always controlling the purse strings and behaving like watch dogs. At the same time, I believe it’s our responsibility to challenge people in all areas of the business, in search of superior commercial outcomes.


And a simple message that you try to instill in your team?

Be straight up with everybody. No bullshit!


DAVID PITT
DAVID PITT
SARAH THOMAS

HR DIRECTOR
........................................................................................................................................

What appeals to you about working for Parmalat?

The culture! I’ve got to say that – I work in HR! But seriously, that’s my answer. Everybody in our business is very proud of what we do, and the Brands that we have and represent. We are extremely passionate and work extremely hard to deliver on our expectations and goals as a business, but we also have a lot of fun whilst achieving all of this. For me this is certainly reflected in the culture.


As a function, how does HR contribute to that positive culture?

Our contribution starts with recruiting people into our business that are the right cultural fit. Technical skills are important don’t get me wrong but behaviour is what creates our culture, behaviours really do matter to us! From here we play a key role in supporting and coaching our leaders to develop our people and their career paths for future success both for the employee and our business. As a business we want to encourage personal confidence, passion for what we do and agility to move with the business. All of these things combined allow us to create a strong, engaged work environment which provide our employees a space to be successful


Do you have a favourite business mantra or even a sound piece of advice that you’ve encountered in your travels?

I think it’s as simple as no one person has all the answers. Good business practice relies on utilizing different skills, different attributes, different levels of experience, even different personalities to grow and become successful. I’ve yet to meet anybody who can do everything but together as one team is a force to be reckoned with!


You’re the mother of a seven year old daughter – what does Chelsea teach you?

Great question! I think Chelsea teaches me to always have a thirst for knowledge. At her age she is just a sponge for learning, and discovering new things. I think as adults, we need to be conscious of maintaining that hunger. We should never stop learning and growing!”


DAVID PITT
DAVID PITT
DAVID PITT

GENERAL MANAGER AUSTRALIA
........................................................................................................................................

Coming from a Sales & Marketing background, what challenges have you faced, since assuming responsibility for the entire Australian business operation?

It's been a really interesting transition. The principles of leadership I believe remain the same, but there is now a necessity to look at the bigger picture, with every decision I make. Previously, wearing a commercial hat, I'd make calls based solely on volume, revenue, margin or market share. Now I have to contemplate how those decisions might play out in the broader business. What are the implications for instance for Manufacturing - the factories - or for Supply Chain for example. And those implications can be both short term and long term. It's a completely different way of thinking, and in that sense, a great challenge.


Do you have a favourite "business principle" that you abide by?

Simplicity. Keeping everything as simple as possible. It's a company value as well. If there's too much complexity in what you're doing, some people are likely to be left behind. And you need everybody on the same page, right from the get go. So use that as the common denominator and take people on the journey with you as you build from there.


What sort of qualities do you look for when you're recruiting?

It might sound a little cliche, but I defer to Jack Welch's four "Es". Energy - crucial to performance in any business. Energizers - the ability to spark others, but also set an example and take responsibility for their own actions. Edge - competitive types willing to make the hard call, never allowing the degree of difficulty to get in their way. And finally Execute - action. Getting stuff done. You can talk all you like, but nothing happens in business until somebody sells something!.


People or Task - what's more important?

At the start of my career, it was all task. To my own detriment. Through age and experience (and lots of candid feedback!) I've come to realise that a balance between the two is essential. That's the very foundation of a sustainable business. Now, developing people is my passion. Delivering Sales growth will always be the aim of the game, however the rewarding part is to see people grow in their roles. Provide support to get that right and the big sales numbers will come. In a similar sense, I believe senior executives can always learn from junior staff as well. They're often looking at the world through fresh eyes, and that can be invaluable so I try and make myself as approachable and accessible as possible. That way, they are more likely to tell me what they're really thinking.
DAVID PITT
MAL CARSELDINE
MAL CARSELDINE

SALES DIRECTOR
........................................................................................................................................

Rumor has it that sometime in an earlier life you were selling computer systems in Bulgaria. Is that true?

Yep– good research! Straight out of Uni actually, I was part of an exchange program where you were dispatched to far away places in the world – I finished up in Bulgaria. I was there for six months.


Did you sell many computer systems?

Very few as a matter of fact! It was a bit of stretch, not being able to speak the language. What was worse, Bulgaria’s one of the few places where the nodding of the head actually means “no”. It took me most of my time over there to work that out! No wonder I had limited success.


What if anything did you learn from your world travels that you’re now applying to your career with Parmalat.

I think to be curious. See, watch and learn. Also the value of getting out of your comfort zone. I spent a lot of time backpacking around Central & South America which was a bit hairy at times. But being out of your comfort zone is where you learn the most and create your best memoRies.


What do you enjoy about working for Parmalat?

I love the Dairy industry for starters. There are so many nuances that have to be taken into account before you can arrive at the correct commercial decision. Parmalat specific - you have permission to make change. In fact it’s expected. Across the business, we are all challenging ourselves with the same question: is there a better way of doing things?


And that’s what you try and instill in your team?

Absolutely. It links back to curiosity. Keep your eyes and ears open. There are good ideas and opportunities everywhere!

MAL CARSELDINE
ANGELA BURR
ANGELA BURR

MARKETING DIRECTOR
........................................................................................................................................

As a relative newcomer to Parmalat, what have been your general observations? How for instance does it differ from other companies that you’ve worked for?

Well, in answer to the first part of the question, culturally it’s definitely exceeded my expectations. It’s an exciting place to work. There’s an entrepreneurial spirit within the business that I’ve never before encountered. People are encouraged to think outside the box, to back their judgment and take calculated risks. It makes for a very positive and energetic environment. As far as what makes it different - probably just the sense of fun. It’s very a very “uncorporate” corporate environment, if that makes sense. There’s no time or room for political games.


The explosion of social media over the past five to 10 years – that must have made your life as a marketer interesting?

It sure has! It's presented some challenges but on the flip side, so many opportunities that at times, it’s been hard to know where to start! In years gone by, marketing was all about pushing a message. Today it’s about conversations and interaction. Through all the social media channels, there’s a genuine opportunity to connect with consumers – not only understand what they like and don’t like – but why. Their beliefs and attitudes. Having access to such rich information – in real time - allows us to better understand the emerging trends. The other key difference for me is the importance now of agility – being able and prepared to act quickly. The world is moving at such a pace there’s no time to sit around in “committees”, pondering whether something will or won’t work. You have to act, which is where backing your instinct comes into play.


That’s the new world externally – what about internally? Has social media changed the way you interact with your peers? Even across other functions within the business?

It’s certainly helped people feel more connected. Within the marketing team for instance, we use “What’s App” to share images and information, war stories, successes, even red flags. That all contributes to a sense of “team”, as well aiding the agility piece. I think the other beauty from a leadership perspective is being able to share more of yourself with your team. Every now and then for instance, posting a photo of what you’re doing with your kids on the weekend. I think that helps break down barriers, because it’s not an email or a 20-slide powerpoint deck relating to work. It’s just people being real people.


How important is recruitment? What do you look for in team members?

I’m incredibly careful as to whom I bring into the business. The culture at Parmalat is precious – we all have an obligation to protect it. The key for me is striking a balance between technical excellence and personality. Excellence is a given, because if they’re not smart, it’s unlikely they are going to be able to step up to the plate and contribute to the team, Then nobody wins. But beyond that – recruiting the right style of person is critical. Anybody we think might have a propensity for rocking the boat or playing political games simply doesn't get a look in!


ANGELA BURR
JENNI BOOTH
JENNI BOOTH

CUSTOMER MARKETING DIRECTOR
........................................................................................................................................

Interesting times in the world of customer marketing – tell us about some of the significant shifts that have taken place in the marketing landscape over the past five years.

The biggest change clearly has been the acceleration of social media, and all the opportunities that have come through those new communication platforms. Consumers interact and response in real time to brand conversations creating meaningful two-way interactions. It is these interactions where we can have the greatest impact and importantly collect the greatest insights to ensure that what we deliver is meaningful and relevant. This shift in marketing means that agility and flexibility are paramount and we need to ensure that we are constantly monitoring and adapting so that we stay on course.

Consumers and shoppers? Aren't they the same thing?

Not necessarily. The shopper is exactly that, the person who purchases the product whilst the consumer is the one that, as the name suggests, consumes the product. In some instances they are one in the same but in many categories these people differ dramatically.

As a shopper it is important that we seek to understand the complex retail environment and ensure that our brands and products are appealing, stand out, get noticed and importantly end up in the basket. Whilst brand plays a critical role there are many other factors that influence whether or not the product passes through the check-out and this area of marketing is quickly evolving.

The consumer however is always front and centre of our thinking because we need to ensure that both our brand promise and our product delivery meets expectations time and time again so that it is in the consideration set for the shopper.

As a manager, what qualities do you look for in team members?

People with positive energy because it is this quality that brings other people together and has the ability to create momentum and ground swell behind ideas. Importantly I also want my team members to be entrepreneurial in their thinking, with a clear ability to take risks and learn from mistakes, ensuring a process of constant improvement.

The team piece is important?

Hell yes! They can have all the other qualities, but they need to demonstrate a willingness to participate, to add value, to engage in a positive manner. Passion and positive energy is essential, because it’s contagious.

What has experience taught you?

Just have a go. Take risks. There’s little merit in simply replicating what everybody else is doing. Try different stuff, without fear that it’s not perfect. Take the learnings and let the idea evolve. Because one thing for sure - if you’re aiming for perfection – you’re destined for disappointment!

JENNI BOOTH
MIA MARYESKI
MIA MARYESKI

NATIONAL SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGER
........................................................................................................................................

What’s the Mia Maryeski story?

Well… it’s a little complicated. I'm actually Canadian. I was born in the US, but grew up in French-speaking Quebec City, in Canada. After completing my MBA, I went travelling with friends from school – Australia was the first stop on a world trip. I met my Australian husband in Sydney, and three kids later, we’re still here!


What do you like about working in Australia?

I really like the Australian work culture - people don’t take themselves too seriously but they are serious about getting the job done.


Supply Chain Manager – you must be good with numbers?

I have a degree in mathematics and I've always loved problem-solving. But with Supply Chain being the link between the commercial side of the business – Sales and Marketing and Manufacturing - communication is also critical, particularly given the acquisitions and growing complexity of the Parmalat business over the past few years.


As a manager, what do you try and impress upon your team?

encourage them to try new and different things, knowing that I have their back if they come up short. The only real failure in my mind is the failure to experiment and push the boundaries. They’re a great team. Their dedication and desire to get our products delivered to our customers in a timely matter, in this ever-changing environment, is inspiring.


Work-life-balance, what does that mean to you?

Life is very full with three kids and a husband who also works full time. The key for me is flexibility. I find the concept of work-life integration works well. I don’t feel guilty if I need to leave early to take one of my boys to basketball, but I also don’t feel guilty logging on to work for a few hours once the kids are asleep.

MIA MARYESKI
VINCE HOULIHAN
DEAN SAPPEY

FINANCE DIRECTOR
........................................................................................................................................

Tell us about your career.

A lot of time working for different Food and Beverage companies, basically. I’ve been lucky enough to work with some great brands and some great people, and as a relatively recent arrival at Parmalat, I know that good fortune is destined to continue.


Word has it that not all your years have been spent working in Finance?

That’s right. I spent some time in HR, which is probably not a traditional career path for a beanie, but I really enjoyed it.


What experience did you gain working in HR that you’re now applying to the world of Finance?

It certainly helped me from a change management perspective. Enrolling people in change, communicating change - there’s always plenty of change happening in Finance, so that aspect of the role was very beneficial. More broadly, I think working in any different area is valuable because it broadens your understanding of the business, and how the various functions fit and work together.


What do you see as the core purpose of the Finance function?

It’s about partnering and providing value, not always controlling the purse strings and behaving like watch dogs. At the same time, I believe it’s our responsibility to challenge people in all areas of the business, in search of superior commercial outcomes.


And a simple message that you try to instill in your team?

Be straight up with everybody. No bullshit!


VINCE HOULIHAN
VINCE HOULIHAN
SARAH THOMAS

HR DIRECTOR
........................................................................................................................................

What appeals to you about working for Parmalat?

The culture! I’ve got to say that – I work in HR! But seriously, that’s my answer. Everybody in our business is very proud of what we do, and the Brands that we have and represent. We are extremely passionate and work extremely hard to deliver on our expectations and goals as a business, but we also have a lot of fun whilst achieving all of this. For me this is certainly reflected in the culture.


As a function, how does HR contribute to that positive culture?

Our contribution starts with recruiting people into our business that are the right cultural fit. Technical skills are important don’t get me wrong but behaviour is what creates our culture, behaviours really do matter to us! From here we play a key role in supporting and coaching our leaders to develop our people and their career paths for future success both for the employee and our business. As a business we want to encourage personal confidence, passion for what we do and agility to move with the business. All of these things combined allow us to create a strong, engaged work environment which provide our employees a space to be successful


Do you have a favourite business mantra or even a sound piece of advice that you’ve encountered in your travels?

I think it’s as simple as no one person has all the answers. Good business practice relies on utilizing different skills, different attributes, different levels of experience, even different personalities to grow and become successful. I’ve yet to meet anybody who can do everything but together as one team is a force to be reckoned with!


You’re the mother of a seven year old daughter – what does Chelsea teach you?

Great question! I think Chelsea teaches me to always have a thirst for knowledge. At her age she is just a sponge for learning, and discovering new things. I think as adults, we need to be conscious of maintaining that hunger. We should never stop learning and growing!”


VINCE HOULIHAN