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Barnaby Wallace - Benefiting Consumers, Innovating and Growing Brands

Wednesday, September 25, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Maggie Gisel
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By Stephanie Stewart (Colorado 1988)  

                       

Barnaby Wallace at the 2019 Founders Circle Retreat, Montreal. 

Barnaby Wallace, the head of Global Commercial Packaging at Mars Petcare, explains that “consumer goods companies can’t save their way to prosperity. You have to innovate and grow brands and products.” Through his many years working in procurement for international consumer products companies such as Kraft Foods, Clorox, Coca-Cola and Proctor & Gamble, he has worked to strategically innovate the function, noting that “the procurement function typically impacts 70% of a company’s cost structure so being more effective in the discipline benefits companies and ultimately consumers.” Barnaby explains that in this business, “it is fast moving and always changing which means embracing change is part of life.”

Change has been an exciting part of Barnaby’s professional and personal life. He has lived in 4 countries, travelled to more than 65 and worked for 5 global brand owners. He was born and raised in Canada, attending the University of Ottawa, achieving honours in Marketing and Management Information Systems. He joined AIESEC in 1986 and managed the LC’s exchange program and went to International Congress in Innsbruck. He was then selected to run exchange for the national committee of AIESEC Canada.

In 1988 Barnaby was selected to manage AIESEC International’s global exchange program, explaining, “The year at AI was full of personal growth through traveling to numerous regional congresses in Asia, Europe, Africa, North America and meeting so many of the fun, value driven, motivated individuals across the global AIESEC organization.” During that year, AIESEC had a record number of students matched to internships with 6,300 executed matches. Barnaby explains that, “It was quite a thrill to see the highest number of traineeships to date in our AI year and we really felt like we were achieving AIESEC’s purpose through the exchange program.” That year they also completed the development of a new computer-driven, year-round process called the MATCH exchange development program. “Given that we were transitioning the exchange system to a new platform, I was able to attend 5 International Congresses, which were really the highlight of the AIESEC yearly cycle. It was a lot of work but also a lot of fun meeting 400 to 500 delegates from all the AIESEC countries.”

Even after sending 6,300 students on AIESEC traineeships around the world in 70 countries, Barnaby never actually took a traineeship himself.  He says, “I guess working for AIESEC Canada and AI was similar to a traineeship except you were working for a non-profit organization, so we experienced shoe string budgets, low pay, and the like. But we were value driven and having fun.” In 1990, Barnaby joined Proctor and Gamble as a purchasing manager for Europe, the Middle East and North Africa based in Brussels.  As he puts it, “I wanted to work internationally and given that the travel and culture bug had bitten deeply, I decided to follow work opportunities in international business.”

He liked working in consumer products and moved on to Coca-Cola in Vienna as Eastern Europe was rapidly opening up their markets to western products. The Berlin Wall came down and with the political reform movement of Glasnost and Perestroika driven by Mikhail Gorbachev, Coke was allowed to invest in the former Soviet Union. Barnaby explained, “I was part of an effort to build the Coca-Cola business in central and eastern Europe. We basically built a business from scratch. After investing $3.5 billion, Coke reversed the market share balance between Pepsi and Coke within 3 years. In the US, we had the wild West; well, this was the wild East!”

In 1998, Coca-Cola lured Barnaby to their Atlanta headquarters to be a Global Procurement Director.  He managed packaging and procurement of plastics globally. “Most of my career choices were influenced by the desire to work internationally and/or on a global scale and this was a direct result of my experience in AIESEC. Understanding other cultures and being able to effectively listen and communicate were key capabilities that AIESEC gave me.”

Following this period, Barnaby wanted to travel less and spend time with his young children so he began five years of consulting related to packaging, materials, markets and supply chains.  After several years as a consultant, he realized that he missed seeing the full implementation of his recommendation. As Barnaby said, “You make all these great recommendations, but you can’t actually see the work through to implementation.” He then went to work for a former Coke executive at Clorox and later joined Kraft Foods which was expanding internationally. When the company was acquired by Heinz, Barnaby decided to take a sabbatical and take up golf, mostly to beat his older brothers!  However, Mars knocked on the door and asked him to help them grow their global procurement strategy as their Global Commercial Lead for Packaging.

While the companies he worked for were headquartered elsewhere in the USA, he found working in a national and global role, he could spend a large part of his time working from home in Atlanta or on the road visiting suppliers, working with business units and managing the supply chain. It also allows him to spend time with his wife, kids and 8 grandchildren.

Barnaby sees that a critical challenge facing brand owners and consumers is the plastic packaging waste issue. “I have been involved in the industry for the last 25 years and we are now at a tipping point with the issue, and action must be taken to not harm our environment any further.  We need to find ways to change our traditional supply chains to become more sustainable and promote the principal of a circular economy.” At Mars, Barnaby explains, “I am happy to be working on solutions to the complex plastics issue from the brand owner perspective in mobilizing the value chain to collectively solve the problem. I am also pleased that Mars is very focused on its plan to become ‘sustainable in a generation’ and making resources available to transform its business.”

Recently Barnaby reconnected with AIESEC Life and AIESEC Canada at the Founders Circle Retreat in Montreal to kick-start Canada’s AIESEC alumni program. He had a wonderful time reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. “It was quite evident that the underlying value system that drove us in our AIESEC days was still very much present in the alumni I met in Montreal and this was very satisfying to witness again.” Barnaby says that some of his best friends in life come from AIESEC and a group of 20 – 40 alumni from his AIESEC days still have reunions every few years. “It is so incredible and a blessing that we remain so well connected which is a testament to the shared values and friendships you make in AIESEC.”


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