RT: You steer Mars’ ambitious sustainability objectives to make the company’s operations ‘sustainable in a generation.’ How do you go about with this goal?
AP: In 2017, we launched our Sustainable in a Generation Plan, which addresses key areas of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals and features ambitious goals informed by science and rooted in our Five Principles. That plan focuses on three key areas: Healthy Planet, Thriving People and Nourishing Wellbeing.
So what does it mean to have a Healthy Planet? In that regard, we’ve set bold ambitions that are linked to climate action, water stewardship and land use, aiming to reduce our environmental impacts in line with what science says is necessary to keep the planet healthy tomorrow. Under this pillar are also included our plans to have 100% recyclable packaging by 2025. In addition to that, we believe that we can and should play a role in increasing opportunities for people in the workplaces and communities that we touch—hence our work for Thriving People. That ambition focuses on increasing income, respecting human rights and unlocking opportunities for women to improve the working lives of one million people in our value chain. Finally, there’s Nourishing Wellbeing. People should have access to the products and information they need to maintain healthy lifestyles. Our ambition there is a commitment to advance science, innovation and marketing in ways that help billions of people and their pets lead healthier, happier lives today and into the future.
They’re bold ambitions, but through dedication and collaboration we know we can and must make them a reality. And while we know that some elements within the plan will take decades to fully realise, and we’re not likely to see fast progress in the early years on some of the goals, we are fully committed to action and operating with urgency to remove the barriers that have prevented progress in the past.
RT: How does a brand like yours communicate in a market like India given that it was a late entrant with a couple of other chocolate brands being well entrenched?
AP: Like every market across the globe, our learning from India is that consumer’s aspirations are governed by quality, good taste and value at different price points. These parameters are at the core of Mars offerings. We are catering to the demand of the consumers, by concentrating our efforts to provide innovative products that reflect their preferences – A compelling product portfolio, unique innovations and a strategy of providing consumers occasions and moments to enjoy. And in the end the consumer will decide as the consumer is our boss.
India is a hugely important country with a strong growth potential. Our categories have a lot of headroom to grow. That’s as true for our Mars Wrigley businesses as it is for our Mars Petcare, Royal Canin and Tasty Bite businesses.
RT: You have spent the first half of your career in the UK and the second half in the US. What are the major differences between the two countries in terms of business?
AP: Well I actually began my career working in U.K. politics, so you can say it was an entirely different world in which I started my working life! That said, after a handful of years in the political space, I eventually became a consultant for Hill & Knowlton, which set into motion the trajectory of where I am today. My career with H&K brought me to India on many occasions including working with NASSCOM. As far as differences go, I’ve now been in the United States for more than a decade, and in that time, it has become an increasingly connected world to work in. At Mars, our colleagues, partners and consumers with whom we engage come from many diverse backgrounds and ways of thinking. I say that because what’s most interesting is less the obvious differences but more the interconnectivity as well as the opportunity to learn from a diversity of different perspectives and cultures. While we may approach day-to-day tasks in slightly different ways, and we have to ensure we’re clear on which order we’ve put the day’s date in, in the grand scheme of things we have really found common ground in the business world and our priorities grow closer and closer together each year as we align our commitments to people and the planet.
RT: You are a council member at the Asia Society Policy Institute. How does that fit into your professional journey?
At the start of 2018 I became a council member for the Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI), roughly two years after joining the Mars, Incorporated team. following my tenure at Wrigley as Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs, Sustainability & Strategy. The mission of ASPI is to tackle many of the major policy challenges that the Asia-Pacific region is confronted with in terms of “security, prosperity, sustainability, and the development of common norms and values for the region.” It’s important to note that because for anyone who knows what our priorities are at Mars, they’ll see a direct correlation there. Our own work just happens to be at a more global scale. Through our Five Principles and Mars’ purpose—“The world we want tomorrow starts with how we do business today”—we’re looking to provide many of the same things for the world at large. We of course also have a strong presence in Asia-Pacific, and as leaders it’s important for us to not only commit business resources there, but to provide our experience and knowledge so that all people can have an equal footing for prosperity and growth. That’s really at the core of why I and my colleagues at Mars work with institutions like ASPI.
RT: What should the communication professional look forward to in 2021?
AP: If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that actions matter, and communicators must play a vital role in building meaningful relationships and that it is especially important in times of crisis. In a year dominated by uncertainty, hyperbole and misinformation, both consumers and employees have turned in ever greater numbers to companies as trusted news sources. As I’ve mentioned, business has a role to play in society, and we can choose to make a difference. Looking to the year ahead, we as communicators have the opportunity to be more curious than ever and ask questions even when they’re uncomfortable. We’ll need to be honest advisors that can help our organisations be their true authentic selves. This is really the beginning of an era of change, and as a profession we not only need to make our own changes, but be a voice for change in the world, too. I’m very optimistic that we can do that together, but it will require continual focus like we’ve never seen before and honest, open conversations. In doing so we’ll ensure that those important changes—societal, sustainable or otherwise—really happen, and in doing so we’ll be providing future generations with a real chance to thrive.
Andy Pharoah is VP of Corporate Affairs & Sustainability at Mars and is a Keynote Speaker at SPECTRA.
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