Why People Need to Come First During a Merger?
When your organization is experiencing a merger or acquisition, what aspects do you prioritize?
Technology? Business continuity? Safety standards?
Didier Moleres, VP of Global Operations at Bimbo QSR, says your first priority should be your people. Period.
In addition to tips for putting people and culture first during a merger, Didier shares…
– Why people are the most important element in overall change management
– How to standardize a safety culture across 8 countries
– How “living” data helps organizations be more proactive
Are you ready to start your digital transformation journey? Request a demo today.
Check out the full episode below:
[00:00:00] Didier Moleres: The common factor on all those different countries and different programs is, of course, the people and the way that they act. We were more focused on how we could deliver and make this transition easier for all of them more than a structure, the hardware or software program that we could elaborate.
[00:00:22] Josh Santo: Welcome to Conquering Chaos, the show for manufacturing leaders. In each episode, we’re connecting you to the manufacturing leaders of today who are driving the innovations needed to future proof the operations of tomorrow. If you feel like your time is spent fighting fires and trying to control the everyday chaos, this show is the show for you. My name is Josh Santo. I’ll be your host.
Welcome to the show. On today’s episode, we’re learning firsthand from an expert who has spent over three decades working his way up through the leadership ranks of manufacturing operations at a company known for delivering tasty treats to households all across the globe. The complexity that comes with leading an operation at this scale cannot be understated.
We as consumers expect to find many of the thirteen thousand plus different products from a hundred plus different brands owned by this company on the shelves at our local grocery and convenience stores. One of the reasons we’re able to do that consistently and reliably around the world is in part due to the people behind this company’s well-run manufacturing operations.
I’m excited to welcome one of those individuals now. He’s worked in Mexico, USA and Latin America, and in his current role as the VP of Global Operations for Bimbo QSR, which is a division of Grupo Bimbo. He works with teams across USA, Abya and Asia. Please welcome to the show, Didier Moleres. Didier, thank you for being here today.
[00:01:57] Didier: Thanks, Josh. It’s really a pleasure to be here. I really appreciate this opportunity to talk about this interesting topic
[00:02:04] Josh: Well, we appreciate having you. A fun fact for everyone listening, this is Didier’s first podcast to be a part of. We are excited to be a part of this journey with him. He’s a great individual to talk to. I know I’ve spent a little bit of time building you up, but I know I’ve appreciated our conversations.
Didier, where I want to start is where I start with all of our guests, which is what does a day look like in your particular role in your life? Talk to us about what you find yourself doing on a day-to-day basis.
[00:02:38] Didier: Obviously, my day-to-day basis has changed since the pandemic. Normally, I woke up every morning. I review first my emails and my agenda for my day, my week, and then for whatever the reason, I work better if I have breakfast after that. Normally, I’d have breakfast with my wife. It’s time to talk about other things, relax a little bit. Then I start with my day with emails, meetings, et cetera, all the activities that normally fit my day until noon.
Sometimes I have a chance to take a break, sometimes I can’t. After having lunch with my wife again, then I work another two, three hours. My evenings are a little lighter than my mornings. Nevertheless, I normally finish about 5:00 PM, 6:00 PM. Sometimes, because I have a conference call with China or Europe, my day could finish kind of late, 7:00 PM, et cetera.
Then about three or four days per week, we would like to have a conversation with our sons. My wife is the cement in the family. She goes like that, call them. Then we talk about what’s going on in their lives, what’s happening with my grandchild, happening with my other son. That’s practically our Monday through Friday activities. In the past, we used to travel around locally or go to small shows. My wife likes shopping around. I like to be there with her. Nowadays, what we do on weekends is I do a lot of honeydews and then we spend evenings watching a good movie or a nice TV series or something like that.
[00:04:30] Josh: I love how you have so much going on. It sounds like you have to be very specific with your time. You’re intentionally making time for the things that are important, which includes work, it includes family and really driving towards that balance. I know that I myself, when I, especially after COVID, the lockdown working down from home, I really had to focus on, you know what? Between these hours, I’m not going to be reachable by work. We’ve got to focus on the family. I love that you’re doing that, you’re keeping that healthy touch with the people who are important in your life.
[00:05:06] Didier: Yes, it is. I believe it helps also to be a little more productive, believe or not, the fact that you distract yourself and being able to disconnect maybe for a good 20 minutes to do something else. A chance to go back with more energy.
[00:05:21] Josh: Absolutely. You have to take those mental breaks, whether they’re in short bursts, like 15 to 20 minutes. I actually think 15 minutes is the recommendation. Every four hours of work, make sure to take a mental break when you’re not focusing on any work activities and then having that break, particularly towards the evening, the work is done, making sure you separate so that you can come back fully charged and ready to deliver all that you have to deliver.
I have to imagine there’s a lot of expectations on you since you are leading teams all across the world.
[00:05:55] Didier: Yes, but as we were the top priority in the next minute, everything is possible with teamwork and group collaboration.
[00:06:02] Josh: Absolutely. That’s a great segue into the topics. Even though, Didier, it’s your first podcast, you’re already great. You’re calling out the transitions and moving the conversation along. You’re natural at this.
When we were talking about the episode topic, when we first met, you had a lot of passion and energy about this idea of putting people, not policies, first for change that scales and sustains. We’re going to be talking a lot about change management. The first thing I want to ask you, Didier, is in your perspective, why is it important to put people at the center of change?
[00:06:42] Didier: Yes, I do believe that the changes happen because people want changes to happen or they don’t accept those changes. I have been part of several company integrations, startups and other activities. What I have noticed is that this is not about assets; this is about integrating people from different themes and cultures so they could have a common ground and share a common vision and goals.
[00:07:11] Josh: In that example, you’re talking about the fact that you’ve been a part of several different acquisitions and mergers, which is very common in a company like Grupo Bimbo and Bimbo QSR, whether you’re acquiring new brands or purchasing smaller organizations to come across to be a part of the larger operation.
I know that I’ve personally talked with plenty of leaders at different CPG and manufacturing companies who have struggled with transitioning people over, transitioning not just people, but the entire operation. To the point that you’re making, it’s not so much a focus on the assets, because the assets themselves can’t continue to produce what they were producing.
The question becomes, can the operations reflect the values and standards by the company that’s acquiring them? That’s where you’re really highlighting that you have a lot of experience. Let me ask you, Didier, why does this particular topic resonate with you?
[00:08:11] Didier: Well, I think it’s part of the company culture. Also, it has been the personal progress and learning evolution that I have experienced personally since I got transferred first to USA, then Latin American countries and now in my current job. At the end, I have learned that what people really, really matters is because people, they don’t care how much you know, until they really know how much you care about them.
[00:08:45] Josh: I love how you put that. People don’t care what you know until they know how much you care. Was that something that you had heard or where did you come to that conclusion from?
[00:08:58] Didier: I read that quote a long time ago somewhere, I don’t recall where, but I immediately understood the importance of this old American saying.
[00:09:10] Josh: When you heard that, was it a revelation to you? Were you finding yourself in a time where this was particularly true for you?
[00:09:20] Didier: Yes, exactly. That was part of one of the last integrations that I had in USA. When I heard, I immediately understood that this was a great summary of this meeting about putting the people in the center, which is part of the company’s philosophy.
[00:09:39] Josh: Well, that’s something I’m definitely going to continue forward and share, because I think that that’s a really insightful statement. Just to say, over time people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care about them.
Let’s talk about your experiences as far as rolling out these different change initiatives. Previously, when you and I had talked, there were some pretty specific stories that we felt really represented this idea of putting people first. One of them was with regard to safety and rolling out a safety initiative. Could you tell us about that experience that you had when it came to a culture of safety and changing that culture?
[00:10:21] Didier: Yes. In my current role, the president of Bimbo QSR assigned me to leave the safety model standardization in Bimbo QSR. We put together a team with my partner, Gerardo Portillo, from HR, and we start talking about how we would want to execute this. We know the system, we know the practices, but we knew that working in eight different languages in several countries was not going to be an easy task.
The common factor on all those different countries and different programs is, of course, the people and the way that they act. We were more focused on how we could deliver and make this transition easier for all of them more than structure the hardware or software program that we could elaborate. We used Parsable to develop a tool that could help us to facilitate this standardization program faster and better than doing this manually.
[00:11:28] Josh: Why was it important to focus on safety? Was there some specific initiative that this tied closely with?
[00:11:36] Didier: There was one important because we had several different models or approaches to safety and we wanted to get the best practice that are more in alignment with Grupo Bimbo’s safety model. For that reason, we decided to have an standard way to do that.
[00:11:54] Josh: There were some variation in how this was being done before?
[00:11:57] Didier: Yes. Remember that this is part of one of the integrations that we are doing between the former structure of Bimbo QSR and Grupo Bimbo.
[00:12:08] Josh: Just off the top of your head, do you know how many different ways that there were? Was it actual methodologies or was this something that had just been built up over the course of time that you were looking to make sure to tackle?
[00:12:24] Didier: There were about eight different safety methodologies or models that they were using. Some common factors among them, but they would not understand their model in those eight different countries.
[00:12:38] Josh: Eight different safety methodologies, so it was important to drive standardization and you mentioned using Parsable as one of those tools to help do that. What exactly were you looking for when you were looking for a tool that was going to help you on standardization, going from eight different methodologies to one unified methodology?
[00:12:59] Didier: Well, we were looking for a tool that has enough flexibility for us to develop this structure, practically with very light help, light assistance, at the same time that we could also roll out this program fast in all those locations. Mostly, it’s flexibility as well as friendly access to the tool.
[00:13:27] Josh: Now, how does your selection of tool, how does that impact the people who are ultimately responsible for adapting to this new safety methodology?
[00:13:39] Didier: We were looking for a tool that is friendly, easy to use for them at the same time that was flexible for us to adjust to different cultures and different terminology that we use in each country.
[00:13:51] Josh: How has the experience been? Have you been able to speak with the different people from these different locals to understand the impact?
[00:14:00] Didier: Yes. This is still ongoing. However, the perception that we’ve had so far for the first steps is very good, had been very welcome. Also, we get feedback from them that we have been able to incorporate into the flexibility of the tool, so we believe that so far it has been a tremendous success for us.
[00:14:21] Josh: How is that helping you ultimately move to that one standard methodology?
[00:14:28] Didier: Because what we did was, we took advantage of the best practices of this safety model and crew that we have in Grupo Bimbo. Then, we transform and translate this into the tool that we develop. We use that for safety investigations as well as safety observations. Then having an structured methodology already that is standard for every country is a lot easier than trying everybody, every location in the terminology in how to fill a form.
Most of the information is already populated in Parsable. It’s a lot easier for they just to be filling the information that is needed.
[00:15:13] Josh: It sounds like it’s simpler for the operators, for example, to have that one consistent approach. I imagine there’s situations which some people go to different facilities, factories, so it helps to have that, the fact that you get that one methodology. You mentioned a couple of examples. One of the ideas that really stood out was that idea of taking the best practice, the ones that you know to be true, getting that out to people.
Then, some of the examples you gave like safety investigation, there’s that element of capturing data behind it. From your perspective, how does that data help enforce or justify some of these changes to the methodology?
[00:16:01] Didier: It’s two things. Number one is to capture the data for data analysis later and also to take actions to prevent the next incident based on that data. Normally, when you have this information captured on paper, the data analysis takes place after on or, to be honest with you, sometimes it doesn’t take place.
The information that we’ve captured already is used now in the same tool to generate KPIs as well as a corrective action plan that can be monitored and also development indicators about the performance of the implementation of those actions.
[00:16:43] Josh: You called out a couple of key points there. Using paper actually has some limitations that may actually be causing more harm than good. It does no good to just document a safety incidence, and that’s if it gets documented at all. It does no good to just log something on paper. What really needs to happen is careful consideration as well as this idea of being able to track what happened, when, who was impacted.
From that perspective, who else is benefiting from this project, aside from just the people who are receiving the new methodology?
[00:17:27] Didier: First of all, I do believe that it allows the managers to have more tools and better information to take the right decisions, to do something that prevents incidents, which it happens to be one of the privilege and responsibilities for the managers in the company.
The second benefit of this is not only for them, but for also people on the floor that can participate building together the recommendations to improve the deviations as well as participate in fixing the issue that may be happening in our facilities.
[00:18:10] Josh: Hey, we’re going to take a real quick break to hear from our sponsors. Stay tuned for more of Conquering Chaos.
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Now back to the show. Managers are benefiting because they have new tools that’s going to help them make better decisions as well as take the appropriate actions to empower their workforce. Then, that other part, engaging people, getting those people to be an active contributor to this improvement, really leveraging what people are seeing or capturing their ideas of what they’re seeing, so that you can drive improvement based off the feedback of the people who have to live that every day.
That sounds like it can be pretty empowering for an organization. Was this something that you had considered from the start? Or is this something that you found to be true only after you started exploring in implementing a new solution?
[00:20:34] Didier: This is normal in the way that the company operates. However, this tool facilitates the whole process for everybody more. It’s not the same in paper than in an application. That’s to me a great advantage of what we are doing right now.
[00:20:48] Josh: Got it. I think that’s great. I know that I’ve talked with some individuals in manufacturing, specifically managers who spend in some cases two hours or so just trying to collect information, just to create a report, just to hopefully figure out what they need to do in response. Have you noticed a decrease in the amount of time it takes to identify what happened, when it happened, so that people can take the appropriate follow-up action?
[00:21:17] Didier: Yes. Although I can have that and I can confirm this, the first activities suggest that this is faster and better. Also, as I said before, this is an activity and a tool that help us with one single important thing. Normally the data that you have on paper could be dead if you don’t use it, and you ended up working for a system. With a tool like Parsable, the data is alive, is ready for analysis, and you have now the system working for you.
[00:21:56] Josh: I like that. Data is dead if you don’t use it. Because you’re using Parsable, you’re finding that the data is alive. That’s because it’s growing, it’s continuing and you’re able to see it and do something with that data, which is not something that was available before.
What does the future look like for this particular initiative? You start it out, you’ve already actively deployed, you’re gathering the data and it sounds like you’re able to take additional action. How is this going to improve ultimately the experience for those operators and for those managers who had to deal with a more archaic system previous to that?
[00:22:40] Didier: First of all, we believe that this ongoing implementation is going to make our lives a lot easier as well as get results faster. To implement any system in eight different languages is never easy. We are taxing the benefits, although we still need to work on the whole implementation for us to collect the benefits.
The most important indicator about the benefit would be when we drop our safety incidents and we have a better performance on safety. We believe is happening right now, as we speak, we are improving. However, I cannot correlate one to one, that this is a benefit directly for the new system that we are implementing. We are just more focused on safety, it’s getting better. My expectation is that we will have a high correlation between using the tool and reducing the incidents in our operations.
[00:23:47] Josh: Again, that’s because now you’ve got data that you can act upon quickly and you can stop things as close to right after when they happen or prevent them. The name of the game is prevention, so the more that you can identify those trends, what’s happening most frequently, what’s happening side per side? Is there particularly a troubling side? What are the differences between these two sides? It gives you the ability to explore some of those variables, so that you can really dig in into that idea of standardization, so that you can do something like what you mentioned, which is drop safety incidents.
[00:24:23] Didier: Yes, generating indicators and information is the tool which is a lot easier. Every time that we enter a data, it helps us to build the information. We know if we have more incidents in the morning or afternoon or at night. We have more incidents happening on Mondays or Wednesdays or Fridays. If we have more incidents in the first steps of the process or the last ones. If we have more incidents per equipment, per process, per product, et cetera. All this information will give us visibility that we need to be more effective on preventing the next incident.
[00:25:00] Josh: That’s great. Ultimately safety is about the people. In turn with this data, now you can better serve the people who are men in the front lines of these operations.
[00:25:12] Didier: Exactly. This is all about taking care of our people.
[00:25:15] Josh: That’s great. I love that. Even though we’re talking about a specific example on which you’re implementing a new tool, you’re working on rolling out this new methodology. Changing the experience and the culture, it’s still this idea of everything that we’re doing is to put the people first.
[00:25:33] Didier: That’s correct.
[00:25:34] Josh: You’ve got a lot of experience with bringing companies together. Often, what comes up is a bit of a culture clash whenever you have acquired an organization. Let’s talk about your experience of how you’ve helped to get people on board to assume this new ideas and new initiatives or just the Bimbo way of doing things, especially considering that sometimes the most difficult part of implementing any sort of change, whether that’s a changing policy, a changing technology, it’s just getting people to understand, acknowledge and accept that change.
[00:26:18] Didier: First of all, if I could use one word to define what happened at the beginning of great integration, in acquisition, that word would be chaos.
[00:26:31] Didier: There is a lot of unknown things that could happen, there is a lot of anxiety on every side of the operation. That’s why, again, one more time, this is not about the assets, but the people that are part of the new team that we are putting together.
For some people, I would approach maybe too soft, but I do believe it allows Grupo Bimbo to capture the best of the best in every operation that we acquire. Normally, we don’t do takeovers. We integrate the two companies, we look for best practices, better ways to do things, even though that company that we just acquired may be smaller or bigger than one of the divisions that we have. We always look for the best practice that we could collect, so we get the best of the two worlds. This is always, always important for us.
This process makes the whole integration a little tougher and maybe longer than it should be when is a takeover. I really believe that taking the time to do this analysis, it delivers long term better results.
[00:27:42] Josh: I like the approaches. Let’s understand what people are doing today, why they’re doing it, understanding their best practices. They’re acquired for a reason, and that reason is because ultimately the company decides that this is going to be a good investment, it’s going to help with the top line, the bottom line, it’s going to be something that is going to really add value to the operation.
That means that that organization is already doing something right. I love that your approach is to come in and understand first what people are doing, why is it that the way that they’re doing it, allowing them to be successful, and then ultimately analyzing what is going to be the best practice to put in place.
[00:28:26] Didier: Exactly. For example in the current job with Bimbo QSR is a complete different business model. I do believe, and the people who have been in touch with Bimbo QSR know that is a great model. We don’t need to change everything to be like Bimbo. We need to be making the changes only that add value to Bimbo QSR, at the same time that we allow Grupo Bimbo to take advantage of the information, of the knowledge of this new company.
It’s very important also to be able to measure apples to apples and to compare numbers. We have some standardization going also on the Bimbo QSR side, because it’s in our best interest to ensure that we can see and talk both ways in each company.
[00:29:19] Josh: How do you go about coming to those conclusions? Do you have any first steps that you take to even perform this analysis or to really get an understanding of the current day?
[00:29:32] Didier: I also heard a long time ago one phrase that says, “Communication is the key to understanding.” At the beginning of the year, when I was appointed to my new position, I talked to my current boss and my corporate boss. Then we talk and agree about which programs are going to be implemented in this new company.
I had it proposed already for the two of them, based on an analysis that I had done on Bimbo QSR and Grupo Bimbo, and then between the two entities, my two customers, the corporate boss from Grupo Bimbo and the president of Bimbo QRS, we discuss what are going to be the plans and activities and programs that will add value and are being part of our scope to start working.
That approach delivered a lot of benefits to us because it’s shorten a lot some of the passion, some of the discussion, some of the conflicts that you may see in a regular integration.
[00:30:34] Josh: It sounds like a key part of that was just aligning the different people involved.
[00:30:39] Didier: Yes, it’s always, again, about the people expectations and also to allow every part to express concerns about the benefits and pros and cons of some of these projects.
[00:30:53] Josh: It’s not just, “Let’s come in and tell you what needs to happen.” It’s it’s an active collaborative conversation with many different stakeholders, whether they’d be your boss, like you mentioned, or people who might be considered multiple levels under your role, still inviting them to the conversation, to hear their perspective and hear what it is that’s top of mind for them.
[00:31:18] Didier: Exactly.
[00:31:19] Josh: Well, I really appreciate that. I think that type of approach really resonates with that first pretty insightful quote that you gave us, which was, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care about them.” Bringing people into the conversation, hearing their concerns, their thoughts, their ideas goes a long way with showing that idea of care.
There’s one other topic that I wanted to get into, which was this idea of preparing for the future today. I know that there are some pursuits that you’re involved with where you’re really looking towards the future. It’s not that you’re having to solve an issue today, but explore what does the future operations look like. In this case, it’s that idea of putting people first with the future of operations, what that technology looks like, what that process may look like. Can you talk to us about how you’ve approached preparing for the future today?
[00:32:21] Didier: They’re interesting because you don’t know what you don’t know. For us to think about the future, we need a lot of people from different areas. For example, for a project that we are having in Bimbo QSR in the region is paperless. We are exploring different opportunities and ways to accomplish paperless in our operations.
Now, by adding people from Quality Assurance, from the Operations, from IT, we are able to have more visibility about our options, about what we want to resolve first, about the priorities that we want to attack, and then to start talking about what if scenarios we are thinking on integrating our ERP with potentially possible and potentially our Grupo Bimbo Internet of things.
We think we’re going to find a couple of good solutions that can help us to to define our future operations. This is still, again, a working process, but the fact that this is not under my single umbrella, but everybody’s participation as a cohesive team, it helps tremendously to define our future.
[00:33:43] Josh: This is a change that requires multiple people across the organization to be a part of, you mentioned IT, for example, working together with them as a partner in order to drive changes for the future of operations.
I would imagine that some of your learnings from integrating these different organizations really help you shine here because you’re able to apply the same principles that you just talked about, that idea of communication being the key to understanding, aligning the different stakeholders that are involved, showing to each of them that you care so that they’re more willing to have an engaging and productive conversation so that ultimately Grupo Bimbo as a company can be improved.
[00:34:29] Didier: Yes, you’re right. Also, let’s remember that I don’t have all the answers. It’s very important to listen what other people has to say about it, especially when they came from different areas, because they bring only the technical knowledge, but also a different perspective. That’s what I like about working in these interdisciplinary things.
[00:34:55] Josh: I love that attitude, humility, understanding that you don’t have all the answers. That’s okay. In fact, one of the best things you can do is build a team based off of who is the expert acknowledging where your own gaps are so that you can build a team that can effectively contribute to the project.
[00:35:16] Didier: Yes, it’s not fortunate. It is more the truth. I mean, it is what it is.
[00:35:25] Josh: Yes.
[00:35:26] Didier: Also, the team contribution, the people who work for me always open to share their ideas and comments, whether we define the what. Then what is important to really be effective is how we’re going to get the how and the how is where we need more people involved on the solution.
[00:35:46] Josh: That what you’re describing, that’s a culture of empowerment. That’s just a byproduct of the fact that you have put people first, because when people don’t feel empowered, they don’t speak up, especially if you’re their boss or if you’re somebody higher up in the organization. This is a testament to the fact that there’s such a consistent habit from yourself of putting people first
[00:36:12] Didier: Yes, I do believe that I’ve been a lucky guy because that’s a normal way of working in the company that I am in.
[00:36:21] Josh: That’s great. I know that I, both in my personal experience as well in my experience working with different manufacturers, have experienced and have seen different cultures that don’t lead to that environment where people feel like they’re empowered to say something and work together.
It’s something that I think it’s going to become more critical in the future, especially considering some of the shifts in the workforce dynamic, where you’re trying to attract a younger generation who is pretty consistently described as wanting to feel like they’re being heard and making a contribution, which is a little different from previous generations.
[00:37:02] Didier: Yes, it’s amazing how the younger generations bring different skills. I do believe they had a gift for us because they have skills that maybe you haven’t been exposed to before. I would take advantage of those gifts anytime.
[00:37:20] Josh: Absolutely. Capitalize on those different perspectives and experiences. Didier, this has been a great conversation. Let me ask you one final question. Somebody who’s starting a project, who really needs to focus on this idea of putting people first, what are a couple of steps or recommendations that you have for them?
[00:37:41] Didier: First of all, I would like to say that don’t jump into action immediately. Think and understand first what do you want to accomplish and then check the people factor. Last but not least, be sure that you have a way to measure success, progress indicators.
[00:38:03] Josh: Don’t jump into action. Take a second to understand. Focus on the people. Find a way to measure. To do that, you’re going to have to use some of the tips that you talked about, which is that idea that communication is key to understanding who needs to be involved. Talk with them, share, over communicate if you have to, and always keep in mind that people don’t care how much you know until you show how much you care about them.
Didier, this has been a great conversation. I really appreciate your time.
[00:38:33] Didier: Thank you very much. It has been a pleasure talking to you, Josh.
[00:38:38] Josh: That’s the show. Thank you so, so much for joining us today. Conquering Chaos is brought to you by Parsable. If you’re a fan of these conversations, subscribe to the show and leave us a rating on Apple podcast. Just tap the number of stars you think the show deserves. As always, feel free to share what’s top of mind for you and who you think we should talk to next.
Until then. Talk soon. Take care. Stay safe and bye.Listen to find out why it's important to put people first during a merger.