Reflections for the new year – an interview with Marek Sheridan, BMMI’s CEO
As we reflect on all the opportunities and challenges that the BMMI Group faced in 2018, the Corporate Communications and Marketing team recently sat down with our CEO, Marek Sheridan, to learn more about his thoughts, insights and the team’s priorities for 2019.
What’s your message to the BMMI team this year?
I would like to thank the team for delivering some strong results in 2018 and for the incredible hard work from all concerned throughout the year in creating a strong platform for growth in 2019. We all understand that the year ahead will bring many challenges, with the world far from certain. However, we can only focus on what we can directly impact ourselves, and I would urge all of us to work on our individual accountability in making a positive difference to the areas within our control in 2019.
In turn, I and the senior team take our accountability very seriously, particularly with regard to the development of the team, to ensure that all are best equipped with the skills, knowledge and training to meet those challenges and deliver that positive change. As a result training will be more targeted than ever and I urge you all to take a pro-active approach with your managers to your personal development.
Accountability will help drive performance and we will support you in your quests to perform at the highest level through training and coaching, but also by working together as a team that lives our Winning Hearts culture every day. Please realise that the more you put in, the more you get out. Make a difference and we will make a difference for you. That’s really a continued focus in 2019.
Reflecting on the past year, what were some of the opportunities and challenges BMMI faced?
As we look back at the year, we can see that the economy around the world was unstable and that there were a number of external factors that impacted us. More than ever, it was clear that we need to challenge ourselves, as well as be adaptable in today’s ever-changing landscape.
Some of those macro factors have had a lasting impact on our organisation, and as a result we have had to make some tough decisions to better prepare ourselves for the future. You can’t allow yourself as individuals or as a business to be a victim of circumstance. You have to focus on the things that you can change and the things that you can influence. In short you have to take control and make a difference.
I’m really pleased that each of our divisions have gone around their business by doing exactly that. I feel proud of the way our team stepped up to that challenge. Through resilience, putting customers first and adapting to external factors, our team was able to accomplish a very strong performance when you consider the challenging climate. I continue to be encouraged by their creativity, can-do attitude and commitment to exceeding customer expectations.
As we start the new year, what are three things you would like the team to prioritise?
As mentioned earlier “Accountability”. If you are not doing it, who will be doing it? It’s not enough to come in and punch your time card. I think we are blessed at BMMI with a team that does want to make a difference, that does feel accountable. And if we can create this discretionary effort to have people constantly striving to make a difference - even in some of the smaller tasks as well as the bigger ones - that will give us a competitive edge.
This proactive approach also applies to being courageous by putting your ideas out there. I’m continually impressed in the discussions at our strategy planning sessions by the team’s enthusiasm and the amount of ideas that come from all participants. It is very exciting for me personally to see these ideas come from everyone in the group as a collective effort - which gets us back to the point “if not you than who?” I can’t by myself change the performance in any of our businesses. It takes everybody being on board. I can draw on my experience to provide guidance and support, but it’s not down to me. At BMMI, we try to give people the confidence to speak up and to think differently. We try to give them the support and confidence to be able action their ideas. And when we get things wrong that’s okay – lets learn from it. We have to fail fast and learn quickly so that we can move on and be better for the experience.
Loyalty and loyalty programmes seem to be a real focus when everyone is fighting for a greater share of a flat market. But the one thing I know for sure is that if you continue to exceed your customer expectations - whether internal or external customers - that’s the single best form of loyalty you will ever have. That’s what will differentiate you from your competition and what will make your customers recommend you to others. Thinking back of these customers and what their expectations are, we need to make sure we constantly exceed those. I think that is literally the case for everything we do, including our internal divisions that support each of us. But it is even more crucial for our external customer facing divisions. We need to give people a reason to come back. VAT was launched in Bahrain in 2019, and that’s an impact on everybody’s wallet. We have to make sure more than ever that our customers feel they are getting value for money. And that means we have to try harder.
So, if there are three things I would like the team to keep in the forefront of their mind this year, they are: accountability, being courageous, and to exceed your customer expectations.
How about for our external audience and our partners?
I would like to say thank you for the faith and support you’ve shown us in 2018, particularly across most of our Principal partners in our Beverages and FMCG divisions. Those departments have enjoyed reasonable growth in 2018 and they’re seeing quite a bit of change management at BMMI that’s driving that growth. Our intention is to do even more of the same. When we talk about exceeding customer expectations, that’s really something that I take from my position all through to our sales and customer service teams. So, expect us to spend more time with you to understand what your needs are, and rest assured that our intent is to continue growing. Because, yes, it’s going to be a tough economic climate, but if there is a team that can find opportunities to do more, it’s ours. We will continue to search tirelessly for those opportunities, and to prove that we are worthy of your trust as your partner of choice.