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Mondelez Takes FAST Road to Unified Global Finance Organization

With finance operations dispersed across 160+ countries, Mondelez International needed to break down geographical barriers and encourage collaboration. A changing business environment also made it crucial to draw its finance people out of their day-to-day roles to fully grasp the organization’s big picture. CFO Brian Gladden, who joined the company in 2014, sought a rallying point to unify its finance organization.

Mid 2015, Mondelez International embarked on a significant learning and development initiative called F1, shifting the finance career path from a linear one to one affording its finance people a broader range of global career experiences.

Solution
The company introduced Mondelez International University – a storehouse for online course modules, and its finance organization followed with function-specific programs. Among them: a Financial Acumen Skills Training program, or FAST. Built around a business simulation, the purpose of FAST is to accelerate business and financial skills development for the next generation of leaders.

“We wanted people to experience the idea of a fully integrated business plan, not only focusing on day-to-day work but having different career experiences, connecting with peers around the globe and making a virtual environment work,” said Barbara Stohlmann, HR business lead global finance.

Gladden tapped TRI Corporation to develop the business simulation, having worked with TRI at GE and Dell Corporation. Because it would have to accommodate participants across time zones, the group agreed to a 12-week virtual program conducted via teleconferencing and virtual networks. Leveraging existing TRI expertise and Mondelez International learning objectives, a pilot module launched in late 2015. A second FAST program took place in 2016, and a third in 2017. Each brings together 36 colleagues in an average of 20 countries.

Participants are assigned to one of two “worlds” based on experience level – College 1 for analyst level and College 2 for more experienced managers. Each world then breaks into three competing teams. Members cross geographic boundaries, cultures and time zones, and use online tools to work virtually. A senior finance leader is assigned to each as a coach.

All participants complete pre-course work online. College 1 pre-course work includes finance basics, from understanding Mondelez International financial statements to its supply chain. College 2 addresses pricing decisions, earnings variance analysis, and cash flow statements.

At the outset, all individuals complete a TRI Leskin 360 self-assessment, with criteria customized to the Mondelez International vision of a successful finance leader. Participants identify opportunities for self-growth and share their assessments with others. Twice during FAST and again at the end, their fellow participants provide feedback, particularly on their progress in targeted improvement areas.

Each team takes on the role of an incoming management team for one of three competing companies. The scenario: they are replacing a previous management team that failed, resulting in the business operating at a loss. Their task is to turn the company around and maximize financial performance and reliability.

Teams begin in the same financial position and compete in a single market using a financial model. The simulation spans six quarters. Teams start in the second half of the first fiscal year, analyzing results, planning the next year, and delivering an op review to senior finance leaders. They put their plans into action over the next four quarters and conclude with a final op review.
Through role play, teams learn to deal with uncertainty, reacting to market, operational, external and other real-life issues introduced by a TRI facilitator, who also plays various stakeholders with whom teams can interact – customers, suppliers and others. Teams must plan carefully, as they are allowed only limited conversations with stakeholders.

After the final review, the winning teams review their results directly with Gladden – a big deal for participants. “What truly sets FAST apart is the hands-on involvement of all our senior finance leaders, including Brian, our CFO. This is both network and organization building,” Stohlmann explained.

Benefits
FAST graduates report the ability to better understand how operational decisions connect with financial results; recognize how they personally contribute to the organization’s growth; communicate efficiently and drive influence in a matrix organization as a true business partner; develop a strategy to guide decision-making; think critically and take prudent risks; negotiate rationally; balance long- and short-term decisions; and team effectively in a cross-cultural and virtual environment.

Mondelez International has experienced a 92% retention rate in FAST graduates since the launch. The finance organization collaborates effectively across the globe and is unified under One Finance.

 

Mondelez International takes the FAST road to a unified global finance organization through virtual experiential learning

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