This month’s CEO Club meeting featured Sandra LeDrew, formerly President of Americas for Treasury Wine Estates (TWE) and also former President of beverage giant Diageo Chateau & Estate. She joined us to share her experience in overcoming an “Executive Challenge,” our 2016 theme. Sandra’s selection as speaker reflected the influence of Stanton Chase’s newly-launched North Bay Office, focusing heavily on Consumer Products/Food/Wine. Sandra has run top-line growth for arguably two of the world’s top wine companies located in the North Bay, and focused her presentation on the challenges and solutions when facing many priorities at once…her immediate case when she attempted to increase sales volume for Treasury Wine Estates’ portfolio of 80+ brands in North America.
After missing targets for the last 7 periods, TWE asked her to first uncover the variables affecting revenue, and then control those variables to drive significant increases in revenue and meet their goals. She inherited a company whose Board of Directors resided in Melbourne, Australia, and had a four-year, complicated, and multi-tiered strategic plan for TWE North America. Sandra uncovered an overwhelming number of variables and desired changes, all of which were deemed important AND urgent! Though a turnaround was necessary, where to begin?
LeDrew created a strategy for tackling a multitude of “Top Priorities” at the same time, and also created an internal review committee key department VP’s who would serve as the TWE transformation team going forward. A new vision was needed and it needed to be communicated to company employees, vendors and disenfranchised wholesale partners to make the plan work. To keep the committee on task, they met monthly to report progress in their “Seven Workstreams” of re-alignment and reported annually to the Board for updates.
As is always the case, a review of whether the company had the best talent in the right roles was critical to the success of this culture change. Significant EBITDA improvements, inventory adjustments, and positive morale resulted from her four-year tenure at the helm of TWE, North America. LeDrew finally helped to arrange the purchase of competitor Diageo’s wine portfolio in December of 2015 for $600MM, making TWE the world’s largest wine company.
For any business leader battling with multiple priorities where everything seems important AND urgent, LeDrew had some key learnings to share:
- Executive Team Must Be Committed
- Effective delegation is paramount to the success of a leader.
- Each member of the executive team must take full responsibility of his/her workstream and reflect a common mindset for growth and success.
- Best Talent in Key Roles
- Finding the right people for the right-fitting role is a real difference-maker when it comes to motivating your team and expecting the best results.
- Culture Changes with Improved Performance
- Culture and performance create feedback loops that influence one another.
- It is very difficult to change culture, but improving performance not only creates the opportunity for actionable strategies but in return changes the culture and how your team sees themselves.
- Expect the Unexpected
- No matter how thorough you may be, expect that things will come up that you did not anticipate.
- Stay nimble, adaptive, and ready to re-prioritize tactics at any given time (just don’t change the goals as often!).