"MDLZ has given me amazing career experiences that will be difficult to replicate"

Tolu Adesalu

Saturday, February 25, 2023

What is your current role and what makes it exciting?

I lead the Customer Service and Logistics Team across West Africa for MDLZ. A key part of this role is getting our lovely brands to our customers so they can make it available for our dear Consumers. What makes this role particularly exciting is the fact that I see it as the link between the Commercial and Supply Chain sides of the Organization. I get to use my experience and expertise to ensure that we create a seamless experience for our consumers, whilst delivering revenue and at the same time looking for opportunities to drive bottom line value and efficiency. I also get to lead an amazing and passionate team of Supply Chain Professionals and can shape their career paths and help them grow.

How has your career developed at MDLZ?

MDLZ has given me amazing career experiences that will be difficult to replicate. I joined as Management Trainee right after university, after the one-year training which exposed me to various parts of the Organization and a short stint in facilities Management, I joined the Sales Organization where I rose the Divisional Sales Manager which was the highest role in Fields Sales. I subsequently crossed into Supply Chain and over the last 15 years have worked in Planning. Procurement including Cocoa Trading (Beans & Butter), culminating in leading the West Africa Procurement Organization, Exports Logistics and now my current responsibility of Customer Service & Logistics for the West Africa Business. Each of the roles I have played have been quite challenging and I have had to learn new skills to succeed. I've always kept an open mind to opportunities and felt it's better to try and fail rather than not try at all so even when my heart is beating fast and my knees are trembling, I still say yes to the role/task with a generous amount of faith in my ability and assured of the support of leaders and the team. I have always been supported by management and a great team of diverse and talented people and I'm thankful for the opportunities and trust afforded me.

>What does it take to be successful as a supply chain manager in the industry?

As a Supply Chain Professional in a developing market with all the uncertainties of West Africa, the biggest requirements for a successful career are resilience and agility. Like a previous boss once told me years ago when I started in Supply Chain, you keep your mind open and your options "opener" as no two days are the same in Africa and the next disruption is just around the corner. So, keep your eye on the goal but be flexible in your approach to achieving it. Don't get bogged down when your plan A fails, as you have 25 more in your kitty. Finally, remember that success in this industry requires strong relationships, so make sure to nurture your supplier and customer relationships, invest in people and get the right stakeholders on board.

Tolu in three images

What kind of project, assignments have you done outside of the traditional career moves that helped you further your career?

Taking the role of Commercial Manager - Stanmark was a defining moment in my career. The newly created role was not only responsible for sales and shipment of Cocoa Butter to our Customers across the globe it was also responsible for all procurement activities of the then subsidiary which included Cocoa Beans, the single largest spend across the West Africa Business as at then. Though I had extensive sales experience behind me and I was moving into this role from a Buyer role in Procurement, Cocoa Beans and Butter are globally traded commodity with Cocoa Beans having a distinct Nigerian twist to its sourcing. I had to simultaneously learn the global lingo of Cocoa trading and the very traditional Cocoa farming method in WA and be comfortable in both worlds. For example, one day had me monitoring the Liffe market for the right time to make a sale, the next I was speaking the local dialect with some Farmers on harvest outlook and the day after I was reviewing the documentation required to support our application for the grant given by the Nigerian Government to promote non-oil exports. This experience helped me understand linkages and vulnerability in the global supply chain, improved my stakeholder management skills and broadened my network in the industry.

How do you describe the culture at MDLZ

I'm particularly proud of our diversity agenda. Nigeria is one of the Countries that is best described as VUCA and as such living, talk less working in Lagos is pretty much fast paced so having those moments of fun within the team helps relieve the pressure of the environment we operate in. Celebrating birthdays of team members is a particular highlight that strengthens our bond as a team. At MDLZ we also strongly encourage a grow every day mindset, to ensure continuous progress towards achieving our objectives and goals. We actively promote working from home as we understand the importance of having a healthy work-life balance, as this helps us stay focused and motivated.

And finally, what is your favorite MDLZ brand? What kind of (childhood) memories are attached to it?

Answer: I don't have one but two favorite MDLZ brands, Cadbury Bournvita and 3-in-1 Hot Chocolate. I always start my day with a drink of both, together in a mug. The recipe is one sachet of 3-in-1 Hot Chocolate in a tall mug, add very hot water till the mug is half filled then add 2 tablespoons of Bournvita and stir until dissolved then top up with hot water and my favorite drink is ready. The aroma is simply heaven... It reminds me of happy childhood days of my school life when I was allowed to have a mug of Bournvita every morning before leaving for school.

Tolu with colleagues