Piet Hilarides : Be clear in your goals and values. Every decision or action must be informed by these.

FrieslandCampina’s new Chief Operating Officer, Consumer Products Asia business group, talks about international growth and the need for a close relationship with HR.

Q: You’ve spent the last two years developing and implementing FrieslandCampina’s African strategy which includes new market entry and mergers and acquisitions. When embarking on new endeavours such as this, what is the typical approach you take, that has served you well?

Piet : FrieslandCampina’s ambition is to create the most successful, professional and attractive dairy company for its member dairy farmers, employees, customers and consumers and for society. To achieve this, growth in new markets is key.

Building upon our Dutch dairy heritage and expertise, our vision is to continue to grow our presence in Asia and Africa. We proactively assess numerous strategic opportunities to build our brand in new high-growth markets. At the same time, we continue to seek opportunities to increase our market share in the countries we have already been operating in across Asia and Africa. Our acquisitions in Africa, among which includes a dairy business in the Ivory Coast, are good examples of seizing the right opportunities along with quick strategic implementation. These acquisitions not only accelerate our growth plans but also reinforce our brand presence in the region.

The world population is expected to grow to about nine billion people by 2050. About 70 percent of these people will live in cities. Feeding this huge urban population will stretch the world’s resources far beyond the current levels.

As you mentioned, my most recent focus before taking up my new role in Asia was the expansion of our business in Africa. We assessed opportunities in more than 50 countries in Africa to evaluate the potential of entering new markets, and have since reduced this to a shortlist of countries we are genuinely interested in that will progress our plans. While we are fast-growing, we are also measured in our approach to growth to ensure we manage it well for our members and consumers.

Q: International growth and globalisation are the buzz words of many. What do you believe it takes to truly become global and grow at a pace that you can manage?

Piet : I believe that it is important to be clear in our goals and values, and that every decision or action that we take must be informed by these. Our global ambition is to create a successful, professional and attractive dairy company. In 2010, we decided to plan our roadmap for the next decade, and this formalised into our route2020 strategy. We believe that, through sustainable growth and value creation, we can strengthen our position as one of the leading global businesses. To grow, we want to create a firm stronghold in Asia and will leverage our long history of activity in the Asian market.










Piet Hilarides

Investment in the markets in which we want to grow is also important. We have defined six growth categories and in three of them, being infant nutrition, dairy-based beverages and branded cheese, we are making above-average investments.

We are a very well established and growing business in Asia, but we listen extremely carefully through regular employee feedback sessions to ensure that we can continue to be a sought-after employer.

Our global ambitions are driven by our ambition to address three global challenges: The world population is expected to grow to about nine billion people by 2050. About 70 percent of these people will live in cities. Feeding this huge urban population will stretch the world’s resources far beyond the current levels. We want to help feed the growing world population, ensure food and nutrition security, and provide affordable nutrition. We want to make sure that farmers earn an adequate income to maintain their farms and to create a positive future for themselves and their children, and, in our commitment to sustainability, we want to reduce CO2 emissions and use more renewable energy.

Q: What do you consider to be the true role of a COO?

Piet : I believe that the role of a COO is one which encompasses numerous job functions – from defining and implementing business strategy and operations to overseeing human resources. It is truly a diverse role and the opportunity it brings excites me.

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