Leading Blog






01.30.19

Newswire: 3 Leadership Lessons from Mars, Inc.’s CEO Grant Reid

NewsWire
Mars, Inc. is more than a candy company. They produce pet care products, coffees and teas, and other food and nutrition products. Mars started in 1911 in a kitchen in Tacoma, Washington with Frank Mars selling hand-dipped chocolates. Now, more than 100 years later, Mars has become one of the world’s largest privately-owned family businesses, doing more than $35 billion a year in business.

Mars CEO and President Grant Reid believes in self-development and having a healthy curiosity in order to be agile and to stay relevant. As a privately owned business, while they have the freedom to stay aligned with their values, it still requires constant vigilance.

Here are three lessons we can think about from Grant Reid’s interview with Bloomberg Businessweek Editor Joel Weber.

Leaders Invest for the Long-Term

What are the advantages of working for a 100-plus-year-old, family-owned, privately held, secretive business?

The fact that I can sit down and talk to family members. It is their business, and they really care—about the brands, about our associates. That’s a big difference. They take very little out. They reinvest in us. They reinvest in the consumer. That’s one big difference in terms of the dividend level vs. some other companies. It’s their approach and their love for the business. My job is to make sure that I’m setting us up for the next 100 years. To do that, you need a vibrant company that’s growing, that’s bringing in the best talent.

Leaders Project Their Purpose into the Future

You mentioned Mars is about a $35 billion-a-year business. What do you want that number to be, and how do you get there?

We think we can double it in the next 10 years. We’ve grown several billion in the last couple of years. But it’s not just about growth for the sake of growth. Part of what we do is for higher-order purposes: The way we do business today creates the world we want tomorrow. We believe we have a sustainable generation plan. We believe the bigger we are, the more good we can do. But it’s not just about being big. Performance without purpose is meaningless. Similarly, purpose without performance isn’t possible. It’s that magic combination.

Leaders See the Big Picture

As a business leader, what advice would you like to give to President Trump?

It’s not about giving advice. We tend to stick away from politics. We’ve been in business 100 years. We’ve seen regimes change over time. We’ve seen a lot of politicians, not only in the U.S. but all over. We’re in 80 countries, with 450 sites around the world. We’ve been through two world wars and multiple regional wars. It’s not about politics. If you look at our business—our associate base, our customers, and our consumers—some are Republican, some are Democrat. So it’s not about politics. My advice would be “Guys, let’s think about what’s right for the consumer, what’s right for the country.” Put it in a broader perspective. Treat everybody with respect just like we do at Mars. Have a sensible discussion. Come up with a solution.

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