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From trade marketing to category planning lead - Sam shares his experience
“One of the most exciting things about the role is its cross-functional nature where it interfaces with all critical functions of the business - from sourcing to sales ”
Wednesday, April 05, 2023
What is your current role and what makes it exciting?
I currently lead Category planning and activations for all our categories – Beverages, Candy, Gum & Biscuits – in the West Africa business. My Team and I are responsible for driving Category strategies & priorities and translating same into commercial plans by channels and markets. We are also responsible for driving a Picture of success in the retail environment.
One of the most exciting things about the role is its cross-functional nature where it interfaces with all critical functions of the business - from sourcing to sales – and providing critical inputs for strategic business decisions.
How has your career developed at MDLZ?
As the saying goes, ‘when we do what we choose to do, we are committed but when we do what we have to do, we are compliant’, I have committed the last 14 years of my life to this great company because I chose to – and have had the most amazing experience while I’ve been here.
I started off as a Trade marketing representative in a small part of the beautiful country of Ghana where I was responsible for driving volume and revenue growth, and trade marketing activities in an assigned territory. I moved on to become the Divisional trade marketing manager for Northern sector and later Southern sector after doing the Trade marketing representative role in 6 other regions of the country.
My last role in Ghana was a National sales manager where I led the sales and trade marketing development of the market, and strong turnaround of the business post a major formulation change of our cocoa beverage brand. Ghana also served as a strong export hub for neighboring countries which led to opening export opportunities in Togo, Benin, Ivory coast, and Nigeria.
I moved to Nigeria in 2019, first as a lead for Category planning and activations for Nigeria and subsequently for West Africa.
Each of these roles has come with some dose of excitement and challenges on the journey to success. I have had some of the best business leaders as managers and bosses who have provided the right amount of steer and guardrails to navigate the toughest patches of the journey.
As Steve Jobs puts it, ‘Great things in business are never done by one person. They're done by a team of people’. I’ve also been privileged to work with some of the most talented teammates and colleagues who always go far and beyond to ensure the work is done, and done well.
What kind of project, assignments have you done outside of the traditional career moves that helped you further your career?
As National sales manager in Ghana, I also acted as the leader of the Ghana business as I was the most senior person in the market and had to take on some administrative support roles with guidance from West African HQ. These roles included representing employer at CBA negotiations, leading Town Hall discussions on behalf of the business, proving leadership directions to all local departments etc. These assignments helped broaden my people leadership skills and general management acumen.
I’ve also been part of several other projects including; Lead facilitator for the INSPIRE leadership program where I lead some of the AMEA region cohorts in Coaching for performance, Feedback for growth, Influence for growth, Building my leadership brand among others.I was part of the team that developed the Export strategy for West Africa and continue to work closely with Export manager to scope new markets, develop existing ones and launch both global and local brands in the target markets.
The most exciting of these projects was driving the Biscuits project for Nigeria as a Scrum lead. It was such a fulfilment to see the project move from ideation to reality. The sheer commitment of the project lead, team members, spring reviews, spring retrospect, agile team, LT and many other stakeholders who put their shoulders to the wheel to ensure we landed this project was just remarkable.
In all these assignments and many others, I’m guided by one of my favorite quotes by Komla Dumor (ex- BBC anchor) who says, ‘there is only one standard - global standard. Be consistent, operate at 100% every single time you’re given an opportunity’.
How do you describe the culture at MDLZ?
MDLZ is a family, and like every family there are bound to be good times and bad times. But like the family, you’re assured of a great support when the need arises. MDLZ provides you with a wide array of resources and training materials to enable you work better and smarter. People are generally very receptive and are ready to provide the needed assistance if they can.
I’ve sat in Lagos and reached out to people in Casablanca, Brasilia and New Delhi for one information or another and everyone of them was willing to provide them as much as they could, and the reverse is the case – when colleagues from Dhaka, Durban and Doha have collaborated with me to work on some amazing projects.
Employee wellbeing is top of the agenda and colleagues are admonished to have a proper work-life balance.
And finally, what is your favorite MDLZ brand? What kind of memories are attached to it?
I love our Cocoa beverage range, Richoco, Bournvita and Hot chocolate. But my favorite is the Hot chocolate 3in1 drink. Nothing in the world tastes better than that drink! And it’s made from the finest Ghanaian cocoa – one of the best breeds in the world.
What makes it more exciting for me is the deliberateness of MDLZ’s investment in the livelihoods of the cocoa farmers and their communities via the Cocoa Sustainability program – Cocoa Life.
We are doing what’s right for the key members of the supply chain and empowering the communities to drive more sustainable cocoa in future.
A mug of Hot chocolate is just the right start I need every morning.