To commemorate his five-year anniversary at Kellogg Company, Chairman and CEO, Steve Cahillane reflects on the company's growth journey in a new blog post.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
At one point or another, we've all been asked that question. Our answers may be somewhat accurate, or we may be completely off in our assumptions – we simply can't predict the future, but we can work toward it.
When I joined Kellogg Company as CEO on Oct. 2, 2017, I never would have imagined all that we'd experience together, including a global pandemic. However, I knew I was brought in to create a brighter tomorrow, and together as a global team, we're doing it.
From day one, it was clear that the company culture was rooted in its founder's values. W.K. Kellogg was an early conservationist and a leading philanthropist, as well as an original wellbeing visionary. 116 years later, our Better Days Promise ESG strategy continues his legacy through our promise to advance sustainable and equitable access to food by addressing the intersection of wellbeing, hunger, sustainability, and equity, diversity and inclusion (ED&I) for 3 billion people by the end of 2030.
During my first few months at Kellogg, I went on a listening tour and met with our people around the world. I steeped myself in the business, partnering with my leadership team and hearing what people loved about the company – what they didn't want to change, what they'd like to see the company do differently, and where they want to see Kellogg in the future.
From those conversations, we launched our Deploy for Growth strategy in early 2018. At the time, the entire industry was focused on cost reduction with little focus on topline growth, so we set out to change the trajectory. And we did – just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and then throughout 2020, demand increased.
Today, we are focused on Deploy for Balanced Growth, and are on a path of consistent, balanced financial delivery. It is from this position of strength that earlier this year we announced our plan to form three independent companies, each better positioned to unlock their full standalone potential.
So, what was the biggest lesson I've learned in five years?
While I've learned a great deal, much more has been reinforced for me – the importance of people, leadership, and agility. At Kellogg, we know people are our greatest strength, and the COVID-19 pandemic showed the incredible strength and resiliency of our people.
I also had weekly meetings with my leadership team, which established a camaraderie that is truly special. Leading through this moment reinforced how important it is to have the right people, in the right roles, and the importance of surrounding yourself with smart, world-class individuals.
It's no secret that the past few years have been unprecedented. From the ongoing pandemic to record-high inflation rates and economy-wide bottlenecks and shortages, it hasn't been easy. But our team has displayed extraordinary grit and agility, making our bright prospects possible.
Looking ahead, what does the future have in store for Kellogg?
We've transformed our portfolio, improved our growth, and sustained our momentum into 2022. Now, work is underway to separate our North American cereal and plant-based foods businesses and create three independent public companies. As part of this process, each company will shape its own culture built on the shoulders and rich heritage of Kellogg Company founder, W.K. Kellogg, while also carrying forward Kellogg Company's strong values, including our commitment to supporting our communities.
Leading Kellogg throughout these past five years has been one of the greatest honors of my professional career. When I accepted the position, I was optimistic and confident, with big goals for the future, and I'm proud to say we've risen to the challenge. I am incredibly proud of the courage and determination of our people, and I'm more excited than ever for our future.