Scott, tell us about your early life and your journey into a career in HR. I’ve been involved in HR now for 34 years. It sounds like a very long time, but it has gone by very quickly. The first half of my career was mostly in retail, in the US, with companies that are well recognised as leaders in people and talent management. Dollar General had 4000 stores and I was their youngest ever VP, Human Resources and very lucky to work under their Chairman and CEO, Cal Turner Jr. who viewed people development as the most important part of his job. There, I also spent time leading store operations which ultimately enhanced my HR leadership skills and the ability to develop practical HR tools and programmes. Following that, I joined Sam’s Club, a $25 billion division of Walmart as their VP, People. Then a moment eventually arrived - actually it was about 17 years in - when I thought, “it’s time to broaden my career horizons”. An opportunity came up with DHL to lead creative people management on a global scale, and I was with DHL for just under seven years, as EVP, Global HR, and relocated to Germany. It was great to be immersed on a massive scale, with an international operation. Reflecting on this time, what it represented for me, above all else as a practitioner and an individual, was the opportunity to be immersed in cultures and people internationally. It was more informative and enriching than any learning module could ever be. I always urge people that, if they have the opportunity, living and working outside your home country is an incredible life-learning experience.

And then came the opportunity to join Bacardi. As brands and sectors go, this was quite a change of scene. When I heard about the opportunity at Bacardi, obviously I knew the brand, but I knew very little about the company and its history, and so I carried out a bit of research and I was fascinated. The story began in Cuba, where Don Facundo Bacardí Massó revolutionised the spirit world, by creating rum as we know it today. The company survived many challenges, including prohibition and illegal confiscation of assets in Cuba. The leaders were forward-

thinking and fearless, and were able to not just continue the business, but grow it to become the world’s largest privately-held spirits company. Seven generations later, the company remains family owned - and this is one of our great differentiators. We live and breathe the same cultural pillars from our early days which are all about being fearless, having a founder’s mentality and being a family. In fact, we don’t call Bacardi people employees, we call them “primos” which means cousins in Spanish. We come together, just like family, whenever possible, which is what our business is all about, celebrating moments that matter. It’s at our core to keep people communicating and sharing - even if people are working remotely - group chats are so much more rewarding than a solitary email.

You describe a compelling story. After working for so long in large corporates, do you think that you were seeking “family”? And what did you think your experience could bring to Bacardi? Well, you might be surprised that when I was working for Dollar General, it was a tightly-held family company - likewise, when I was at Wal-Mart, the Waltons - the founding family - were still involved in the business. So working for a family company was not new for me. But the most compelling aspect was that, unlike my previous employers who had family involvement, but were publicly traded, Bacardi is 100 percent family-owned and remains private. As a matter of fact, our current Chairman Facundo L. Bacardi is the great-great grandson of our founder and even bears his name. Having that family ownership really allows each of us to take the business vision and translate it for our discipline. For me and the HR team, I’d like to make Bacardi the world's most “personal” company and I can really understand and embrace how HR can improve capability and performance on many different platforms.

Explain the scope of the business and how it operates. We have more than 200 brands and labels and sell in more than 170 markets around the world. The scale of the business lends itself

to the opportunity to innovate, and knowledge- sharing is becoming a significant accelerant to innovation. It’s important to keeping competitive and future-focused. What’s exciting for myself and the HR teams is that we see the results of our strategy and interventions really quickly, and when people can see direct positive impacts on the business, this gives momentum and builds confidence in the drive for change. It’s also very hands-on too, which I find particularly rewarding, as HR then becomes, not just a service deliverer, but a deeply- integrated business partner. So, connectivity, the flatter workplace, collaboration and knowledge sharing is the combination to unlocking opportunities for the future.

What is the next stage in your HR plans? Attraction and retention must surely be high agenda pointers. Unquestionably, we have attracted and developed the best people - and been rewarded by that - so we want to keep that momentum of talent going, keep that vibrant pipeline. Firstly, we have fantastic brands, so we work hard to connect the brand to our primo, right through to our customers and ultimately our consumer. We believe every primo is an ambassador for the company. It’s interesting because there are some companies that have rules about employees not using social media, but we love our primos to use social media as they’re all influencers and champions for our brands. In fact, every year we celebrate Founder's Day on February 4th, and we host an initiative called Back to the Bar. We close our distilleries and offices and 7000 primos from around the world, go “Back to the Bar” to not only thank our customers, but to experience the latest trends and talk to consumers about their preferences. It’s a a big celebration around the world but also highlights the importance that, whether you’re in finance, HR, or IT, at the end of the day, we are all supporting the front line and each of us make an impact on our consumer in some shape or form. It’s the type of celebration that helps balance the hard work that goes into making our company great. We take our work seriously, but we do it with fun!

MAY 2019 | thehrdirector | 9

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