Back in 2012, Bonduelle shareholders and top management workshopped a new vision for the company. The result was an ambition to be the world reference in ‘well living’ through vegetable products. With this in mind, Bonduelle launched a progressive initiative of 22 projects called VegeGo! to help reach this goal. One of these projects looked to embed financial value creation into the DNA of the business. Some six years in, the project is already delivering great results.
Given my background and experience, it was inevitable that out of the 22 projects Bonduelle decided to initiate, I was attracted to the project called (at that time), ‘Bringing a financial focus to our day-to-day management’ – otherwise known as Project 21. Launched in 2012 as part of the company’s new vision, the aim of the project was to further integrate the concept of financial value creation into our day-to-day decision-making processes in the pursuit of profitable, capital-efficient growth.
One of the exciting and innovative aspects of the project was that a non-finance person, a plant director, was chosen to manage it initially. This was important, as it was a way to make sure that the project spoke for the company as a whole, not just the finance function. To get the ball rolling, a team of sixteen – including me – from across the Group worked for over a year, studying different business cases around the topic.
As part of this research, we visited other companies which we felt had achieved a good level of financial focus in their day-to-day management. While we were on site, we took the time to find out about each company’s cash culture and how to embed this within an organisation, learning about the key successes and challenges that those companies had experienced throughout their journeys. This included seeing some businesses who had actually failed to fulfil their ambitions, because there are lessons to be learned from these experiences too.