Welcome to our fifth podcast episode and the first one in 2022!
We start the new year with a great conversation with Paul Chibe, who is CEO of Pabst Brewing Company. Prior to that, Paul was Global President of Sugar Confectionery at Ferrero Group. Before his career at Ferrero, he was U.S. Chief Marketing Officer at A-B InBev, where some of his key achievements were creating the large-scale Budweiser Made in America concert series with Jay-Z and launching the Bud Light Platinum and Rita brands. Previously, Paul spent 11 years with Wrigley Company, where he also worked with Breakthrough! You can find Paul’s LinkedIn profile here.
Listen to the S1 E5 ‘Business As a Force for Good’ with Paul
In this episode, we will learn about these 3 lessons from Paul
- How transformational change requires courage and resilience
- The hallmarks of a great leader
- Business as a force for good
This podcast was recorded in the summer of 2021.
If you enjoyed this episode, make sure you subscribe to this podcast and please do leave us a review and rating on your player of choice. We will be updating you on upcoming episodes on our social media so remember to follow us.
Transcript of the episode
Zannah Ryabchuk 0:12
Happy New Year and welcome back to 3 Lessons from Breakthrough Leaders. I’m Zannah Ryabchuk MD at Breakthrough Global.
Dr. Bart Sayle 0:18
and I’m Dr. Bart Sayle Breakthrough’s CEO and founder. We’ve spent 30 years developing the Breakthrough methodology to transform companies who want to reach the highest level.
Zannah Ryabchuk 0:30
And in this podcast, we’ll get to the heart of that transformation, meeting leaders and creative talents to share three lessons that we guarantee will help you and your companies to unleash your potential. And Bart and I will take a moment to analyse the key takeaways and opportunities for Breakthrough thinking. In today’s episode, we’ll hear from Paul Chibe, who’s the CEO of Pabst Brewing Company. At the time of recording Paul was president and CEO for North America Ferrero group, where we’ve worked. Before that he was the US Chief Marketing Officer at A-B InBev, where his key achievements included creating the large scale Budweiser Made in America concert series with Jay-Z, and launching the Bud Light platinum and Rita brands. Previously, Paul spent 11 years working with a Wrigley company, where he also worked with Breakthrough. Today, we’ll be learning these three lessons from Paul. How transformational change requires courage and resilience.
Paul Chibe 1:24
One of the things that happens in a mindset at an organisation that has a resistance to change is that people will feel like the status quo is great or acceptable. Instead of understanding that the status quo was something that has to move, it has to evolve, it has to change
Zannah Ryabchuk 1:45
The hallmarks of a great leader,
Paul Chibe 1:47
Tt was completely unambiguous whether or not it created Jeopardy from him organisationally, or tension from him, organisationally, he was going to do the right thing. And that was when it’s like, okay, this is what leadership looks like.
Zannah Ryabchuk 2:00
Why values are the true bottom line.
Paul Chibe 2:03
You know, when you look at different companies who are competing, eventually, they always arrive at a moment where there’s equal access to capital. And so then what differentiates these companies over time? It is people in culture.
Dr. Bart Sayle 2:19
Lesson 1: embrace the change. I think looking back into Wrigley, the company that you joined, you said you’d been there a year and the company that I met at the start of this, it was very much I saw it as seeing itself as a multinational company, not a global company, a multinational company. And that changed dramatically over those years. And I think that was part of the success to transition it from a basically a American company with international units to a truly global company.
Paul Chibe 2:57
Yeah, I believe that was exactly what the intentionality was in. There was a great success there. And I think there were many things that Wrigley had done that were pioneering, even in the moment where we were requiring to transition. I think, for example, Wrigley as an American company, very much pioneered using local talent, to build the companies in the different parts of the world. And it gave it a great advantage. And I think that foundation of of entrepreneurship, and trust that had and people even if they were of a different culture, and from a different part of the world, was why it became such a valuable company, later on with, with Mars, and it was a great time to be part of something that was transformational also, for me, personally, and learning how to be a leader and how to be someone who participates in organisational change.
Dr. Bart Sayle 3:54
So Paul, can you can you tell us a couple of things about that? What were the standouts? In terms of your journey.
Paul Chibe 4:00
One of the things that I felt was important in that time, and there were people who were subject matter experts who were part of the older company, and they had big contributions to make, but you had this vibe of the transition. And you had a lot of new people coming in, I came in, you know, my bosses were new to the organisation. And so there were a bunch of people that if you didn’t make the effort to have them feel included, even though you were the new person, you could have lost a lot of the expertise that built Wrigley to what it was at that time, which was still, you know, from the beginning, a very successful, amazing company. And so, I felt like it was very important to include, but also pay respect to the people who had been there that really knew the business and make sure that you spent the effort to learn from them and it acknowledge what they knew. And for me, that was a big part of the learning. I think the other one was, I think that was also a time just in business where transition and change accelerated, things don’t stay the same, things always change. And you have to have that resilience to deal with change, if you’re going to be successful, we were in a big moment of cultural transformation. And we were on a journey, people did not know where it went end, we knew we had this aspiration, we didn’t know how we are going to get there, which was to make our $2 billion company a $5 billion company and like five years time and know everyone thought, well, that’s kind of crazy, you know, more than double the company, it took us 100 years to get to two, and we’re gonna get to five in five years, you know, so there was a bit of stretch of your imagination, but people went with it. And like you’re saying there was some resistance. But that fell away. And the people who could not change obviously, then had to move along. But we were able to take that journey and be quite successful, because of the preparation, to deal with change in the preparation to deal with transformation, in the preparation to be resilient, to go on a journey that you may not know where it’s going. But just to accept that you’re on a journey that will end up somewhere positive.
Zannah Ryabchuk 6:24
So I’m interested in the use of your word resilience, because this has been a key theme throughout not just the podcast, but for the last 18 – 19 months, every single conversation I have with someone from our community or a client or even friends and colleagues, the word resilience is just the the thing that’s front and centre, what are some of the tips that you could give to an organisation who’s about to go through an extraordinary transformation like that, or maybe it’s a smaller transformation that will help them to really build their resilience, but more importantly, build the resilience of their team.
Paul Chibe 6:55
I think one of the things that happens in a mindset, at an organisation that has a resistance to change is that people will feel like the status quo is great or acceptable. Instead of understanding that the status quo was something that has to move, it has to evolve, it has to change. My suggestion, advice to leaders in organisations is, is to always set the expectation that change is positive in that you have to evolve. And that as a leader, you have to make sure that you’re creating the trust relationship with the people taking them on a journey that is positive. And how you do that is making sure that you’re thinking enough ahead, that you’re not creating these huge disruptive events, lay off events that are then looked at what scepticism on an organisation in terms of taking you on a positive journey of growth for a company to set the expectation of constant change, set the expectation of transformation and evolution.
Zannah Ryabchuk 8:06
Starts fantastic. I mean, Paul reflected so accurately on the experience that we certainly have. When we first enter an organisation that’s about to embark on any kind of transformation. We see the resistance, the fear, and the belief that the status quo is good.
Dr. Bart Sayle 8:21
Yes. And I remember with Paul and with Wrigley. Remember, it was a legacy company. And Paul mentioned the old guard. There were a lot of people there who had been there for a long time. So one of the things that I saw, over the first few days that we worked with them in the programme is looking at mindsets. There were only a very small proportion of people in that group of 50 of the most senior managers, there were only a handful of people who had a mindset of five years into the future. And then there was another small group that had a mindset that was in the current reality. And then the majority of people their mindset was basically in the past. And one of the initial challenges was actually to get people to shift their mindset and shift their belief systems about what Wrigley could be, rather than what they believed Wrigley was. Let’s hear more from Paul.
Lesson two – great leaders build great teams.
Going back to talent, one story I heard was that it was difficult to get people to come to Wrigley, particularly the people they wanted, but as the cultural journey went, some of the headhunters were calling in and saying what’s happened to Wrigley because we’ve got people now wanting to come to Wrigley.
Paul Chibe 9:56
Well, I think the point I would say is to build on what you’re saying. This goes back to leadership. When I interviewed at Wrigley, I interview with a gentleman named Gary McCullough. And Gary was sharing the story, you know, had gone through the interview process, but part of it also I think, toward it was part of him selling me on the opportunity. And you had to go on faith, you had to go on the faith that this person is a leader was going to transform the organisation and make it different than maybe what the reputation was. He had to go on that faith. And I believed him. So you went on faith based on the quality of the leader and the values and the convictions that he expressed about what what was wanted and where that business was going to go. And that’s also true about Ferreira. You know, Ferriero, his reputation in the United States was non existent. Being open, there was a bit of scepticism until I met Mr. Ferrero. And in the interview with Mr. Ferrero, I got this big sense that what I had heard, though about the company in terms of having a moral compass, and being very caring and concerned about the employees was very true. And I went on the faith of interacting with him, that he was someone who was leaving the this business grounded in ethics and grounded in integrity, that they were going to take it in the right direction, and that he was going to take it in the right direction. So for me two big moments that have been important in my career journey, were based on faith in the leader, and where that leader would take it.
Zannah Ryabchuk 11:40
So pull thinking about leadership a bit more. And I’d like you to think right back now maybe to your very first inspirational leader, maybe it was a sports coach, maybe it was a teacher at school, maybe it was a parent, but who was the person that you can really cast your mind back and remember had that first dramatic impact on you where you thought, Wow, that’s a really inspirational leader, and what were the qualities that stuck out for you?
Paul Chibe 12:02
Well, I’ll answer it personally. And then I’ll answer it professionally, because there are two. So when I was in school, I went to a high school in Chicago named St. Ignatius, Jesuit school, and very much around educating people in the gesture in the Jesuit tradition. And I had a philosophy teacher, who was incredibly challenging. And his name was Brother McCabe, he passed away. But I remember, you know, the very first assignment because it stuck with me to this day. Because we thought I thought the guy was crazy. And his first assignment was, compare and contrast, IRS, the teaming of metaphysics with platonic epistemology. And, you know, I’m a sophomore, I’m like, What is this? So I had a read this stuff. I’m sure I made up a bunch of nonsense, and turned it in. But I remember that I that stuck with me to this point, because it was a shock, in that there was this expectation of me having to portray back my understanding of some really, really deep topics. And then I just remember, and I’ll never forget this. I was in his class, and he called on me, and he asked me a question. And I could not define it. I said, I know what it is. And this is this. And I remember he said, if you cannot define it, you do not know it. And I just remember that, you know, I was probably 14 years old, you know, so it’s 40 years ago. And I remember him saying that to me, and it always stuck with me. And I think that that really set a foundation for any intellectual pursuit of I have been on sets, you know, I pay a lot of homage to that kind of thinking that he drove the expectation of not taking things at a superficial level to making sure you truly comprehend and understand something and using it as the basis of your intellectual understanding. But then professionally, I have to say the truth, the first true leader, inspirational leader I met in my business like was Gary McCullough. And I think the, the thing that I will say, I met good people, but Gary was somebody that I would say, immediately, you understood that he was set by a conviction. They had integrity and a moral compass, and he would fight to do the right thing. And he knew the difference between right or wrong. Whether or not it created Jeopardy from him, organizationally, are tension from him organizationally, he was going to do the right thing. It was completely unambiguous. And that was when it’s like, okay, this is what leadership looks like. I hadn’t seen it before. But that’s what a leader does.
Zannah Ryabchuk 15:10
Having faith in a leader is so important. And we know from our programmes that those with the highest level of success are always led from the front. It’s why we found a bottom up approach can struggle, you need that inspirational and well directed leadership and leaders as role models.
Dr. Bart Sayle 15:25
Absolutely. And belief is so important. So, for those leaders out there listening now, the people that follow, you need to believe in a number of things, they need to believe in your vision, they also need to believe that you believe that vision is possible. And they need to believe that you believe that they can do it. So those different levels of belief are all wrapped up in belief in your leadership. That’s how important belief is.
Zannah Ryabchuk 15:57
For sure. And you can’t get a better example than Gary, to hear more about Gary’s leadership principles, you can listen to our podcast interview with him that was done earlier in this series. Okay Bart what’s next?
Dr. Bart Sayle 16:07
Lesson three. Business as a force for good. Business now is probably the most influential force on the planet. You know, my belief is that it can either be a force for good or not so good. And 28 years ago, I came out of the corporate world. And I could see that this influence of business was getting more and more and more, but what I saw also was, if you think the consciousness of business was lagging behind, it’s a fact. So it was affecting lots of people, it was starting to affect the planet in a big way. But the consciousness of business leadership was was way behind its effect. What are your views on this? And on how business can be a force for good or not so good?
Paul Chibe 17:03
Well, I think for me, the first point is looking at, where does it begin. And I think it starts for most of us in that your identity as a person is driven by what you do for your living. And I think that that is something that you have to respect in dealing with, with people and dealing with organisations and dealing with yourself and that you get your pride very often. And maybe this is positive, and maybe this is negative, but it’s a reality, you get a lot of your pride from what you do, that pride is based upon also a lot on where an organisation is going. Employees are expecting more from the companies that they work for. And I also believe our consumers are expecting more from the companies they buy from. As you’re saying, there’s been this kind of opening of the mind and that, hey, I want to work for somebody that my values are aligned with. And this is why I think organisations are evolving. You want the best people and you and you want to be successful. You have to be doing things that are perceived, and are actually good for your organisation and good for the community, the society, environment, as a business. You know, when you think about even the beginning of Wrigley, you know, Wrigley had set up businesses in East Europe. And so me as an American, I was able to have relationships with people that I would never have had a relationship with, and that are friends with me today. So what’s always been an interesting concept for me is, is that business organisations, global business organisations create camaraderie among potentially people that would be in countries that could be adversarial. And so that then starts to break down. Wait a minute, that’s a person just like me, that’s a they have a family, they have children, they want better for their community, they want better for their country, they want better for the planet, just like I do. When you think about globalisation, it’s globalisation of relationships. And I think it’s a positive thing.
Zannah Ryabchuk 19:19
I couldn’t agree more. And it brings me back to a programme we did a few years ago when they just had the most recent revolution in Ukraine. And my husband’s from Ukraine. So we follow all of that very closely. And we were doing a programme in Kiev, but with a Russian and Ukrainian team. And we’ve been kind of nervous going in, like, is there going to be some disputes here? Are people going to be frustrated with each other? Is this maybe going to bubble up to the surface over the course of the programme? And of course, absolutely not. Because they were work colleagues and everybody knows each other’s families, everybody got on incredibly well. And it was just the most inspirational experience to me to see that, you know, so much of this stuff is caused by politics and actually Human beings, as we well know, from running the programme in so many different countries, at the same at the end of the day, Paul is what you just said is so true. You know, we all have families, we all care about the same stuff. And there’s a lot more that unites us than that which divides us.
Dr. Bart Sayle 20:12
They ended up with their arms around each other. Yeah, incredible.
Paul Chibe 20:17
This is where business can be transformational, because it’s that that trust relationship that comes from business and people getting to know one another as real people that can step change, transformation.
Zannah Ryabchuk 20:30
So I think that will be easy for our listeners to get behind. And you know, as far as I said, we completely can can see that side of it and have experienced it for ourselves. And it’s something really wonderful. I think, where many people get confused about the negative aspects is where we look at problems with sustainability or problems with greed. How do you think that the corporate world is starting to address that now? Because for a long time, you just have a little tab on your page, wouldn’t you about sustainability, and it didn’t really mean very much. But these days, as you were saying before, with consumers really demanding more from from companies, it has to mean something, right?
Paul Chibe 21:05
Well, I think that companies, again, from their associates, and consumers are becoming aware of the impacts that we make on our environment, there’s a market, a new market force, not just supply and demand that influences whether a business is successful. You use that word, sustainable, I think people also are smart. People understand that, if you want to make money in the long term, you can’t destroy the environment you’re in. If you’re going to have a successful business, you can’t destroy the the the sources of your ingredients, or materials, or everything else that you that you consume in the production of your business. So I just think that the mindset is changing. And I think that that comes from us becoming more aware. That’s a
Dr. Bart Sayle 21:55
great point, Paul. And I like the word you used earlier, which was, it’s an evolution. There’s evolution going on in the natural world. And that’s probably much slower. But there’s an evolution going on in, in our mindset. And that mindset has shifted, from early days of capitalism, where everything was just let’s exploit what we can through our generation, which started to look at sustainability. And I think the next generation will be starting to look at well, let’s go beyond sustainability. How can we regenerate? That’s already happening. And I think one of the key factors as well is is the generational factor. But each generation to me seems to be much smarter, much more aware. And they put the choices behind the values and what they think is good for the planet and good for humanity.
Paul Chibe 22:49
Yeah, absolutely. We see it because we see it in the way that our associates convey their expectations on us as an organisation. And then when you look at where businesses today, in terms of the search for talent, and this is very much a global dilemma we’re in there is a shortage of talent in the marketplace, as an associate, you have choices, you can choose, do you want to work for company A or company B. And so, you know, to use your, your context of evolution, natural selection will play a role if your company cannot attract top talent, because its values are out of step with where your potential associates are, you’re not going to make it. And there’s, if you go back into our finance days, you know, and you go into finance theory, one of the things that’s always said about capital markets is that eventually, you know, when you look at different companies who are competing, eventually, they always arrive at a moment where there’s equal access to capital. And so then what differentiates these companies over time, it is people and culture. And it’s the culture that transforms them and makes them more competitive or less competitive to the other company that’s their size as the same access to capital. And that was why going back to the beginning of our conversation this morning, why this whole discussion around Wrigley that transformation of culture was the platform that enabled it to be successful.
Dr. Bart Sayle 24:28
I’d like to add something more about this idea of the consciousness of business, because that’s moved so much in recent years. In a way if I think about Breakthrough, there was a a type of spiritual vision behind Breakthrough as well as a company vision. And the spiritual vision was to help leaders and help organisations and people who work in organisations have the tools that were enable them to raise their consciousness. So that whatever they’re doing whatever business that they’re in, that they’re doing more than just growing the business, they’re actually doing more than that they’re growing themselves. They’re growing their families, they’re growing the people around them. And the idea that that raising of consciousness would eventually create leaders, who would then be much more responsible in the businesses they manage, and they create. So that business does become a force for good for everybody. That was actually at the heart of Breakthrough from the moment we started it.
Zannah Ryabchuk 25:43
And that’s so inspirational. I think it ties in incredibly well to where we are today. And I remember a CEO who’s worked with us many, many times, we sort of lost a little bit of sight of that, hadn’t we, at one point, he said, hey, you need to bring back one of your taglines, which is “the Spirit of Breakthrough creates new futures”. And so we started to use that again, more and more. And I think it sums up exactly what you’re saying. And that idea of raising the consciousness and that kind of intangible spirit that is Breakthrough. Now, on to our hot seat, this is the part of the show at the end of each episode, where we ask our guests quickfire questions, to learn more about their views on life, what’s important to them, and to learn about their habits for high performance. So Paul, first up, what brings you energy and motivation in your everyday life?
Paul Chibe 26:29
Well, I’d like to see impacts. You know, for me, one of the great things that comes from being in the positions that I’ve had either in marketing or in general management is that you can see the product and result of your effort. And that motivates you. You know, it gives you a reason to get out that, hey, I’m gonna get out of bed today. And I’m going to make a difference. And I’m seeing the difference I’m creating in the results that come. And that for me is very motivating.
Zannah Ryabchuk 26:56
Finish this sentence: Success is ….
Paul Chibe 26:59
never a straight line.
Zannah Ryabchuk 27:01
Like, I like that. And then finally, what inspires you in life?
Paul Chibe 27:07
I think my inspiration comes from being optimistic. Why be pessimistic? I’m optimistic. And I think that the days ahead will always be better. We just got to keep on our track. And remember, and I think people have good conscious everywhere around the world will, will drive us that direction. Naturally. That’s where we’ll go.
Dr. Bart Sayle 27:28
We’ve got a wide range of listeners on on this podcast, our community and you know, from from CEOs like you through to people who are just starting their career. And if we think about the people that are just starting their career, what advice would you give them from your point of view on your journey, a very successful journey with its ups and downs, but what advice would you give to the ones that are starting out?
Paul Chibe 28:01
Well, I share this with people quite often. I think the first bit of advice I would give to anyone that is starting out is to be curious. And hopefully, it’s you’re innately curious, because I think it’s that curiosity that is going to open up many doors for you, because of the questions you ask in the investigation you do in terms of getting to a better understanding of the business you’re in, the processes you’re in, the people around you, the culture you’re in. And I think that that is especially important for you to be successful, you have to be curious. And so that would be my first bit of advice. The second one would be to make sure that you build your capability and creativity, solutions to business and solutions in your personal life often are built, the best ones are built on you coming up with creative solutions to the problems and creativity really, if you think about all the great business leaders. They’ve had some gift of creativity that they’ve deployed and running or building their business. And I think the other one is, is always carry an entrepreneurial mindset. And that to me is the foundation of what eventually it is to be a senior executive like a CEO. Because when you’re an entrepreneur and you’re starting out, you’re responsible for everything. You’ve got to find out how to get it made. You got to find the people that make it you got to pay the light bill you got to make sure you’re handling the tax you got to handle the recruiting your every function wrapped in one when you’re the entrepreneur with that entrepreneurial mindset carry forward, also the humbleness to learn from everyone you’re working with, because you may learn something today, that 30 years from now. You can Use in a meeting or a conversation on a business problem that you have like, wait a minute, I remember this, these things can express themselves to opportunities later on.
Zannah Ryabchuk 30:11
Thank you, Paul. And, Paul, our listeners may want to ask you a question or get in touch with you or just find out a bit more about you. What’s a good way for them to do that? Would that be through social media? Should they get in touch with us and we pass it on to you? What’s the best thing?
Paul Chibe 30:24
I would say the best way is, send me an in message on LinkedIn. Perfect. I’m very easy to find there. And you can send me a note and I’ll do my best to respond in a timely manner.
Zannah Ryabchuk 30:34
Well, there’ll be very grateful for that. And I know that we certainly are Paul, it’s been an absolute pleasure today. Thank you so much for your generosity of time and generosity of advice. I know that our listeners will be really, really excited to listen to this podcast. Thank you for joining us for today’s three lessons. Do make sure you hit the subscribe button and join us next time for another three lessons from breakthrough leaders. And you can reach out to us breakthrough global on LinkedIn or Facebook, or via Twitter at radiant clarity or an Instagram at global breakthrough.
Dr. Bart Sayle 31:07
And we’d love to hear from you your feedback and your own leadership stories. We’d also love for you to share this episode on your own social media and review and rate this podcast on your player of choice as we want to spread these transformative lessons as widely as possible.
Zannah Ryabchuk 31:27
And finally, a huge thanks to our production team Julia Soltysova at Breakthrough Global and Robin Leeburn at Fairly Media. And of course, thank you for listening. See you next time.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai