Joined RNL after the company was acquired by the Rubis Group. As the company was privately owned previously, there were not many systems and processes in place to support corporate requirements. Priority was to implement a new ERP, recruit new staff and introduce processes such as Budgeting and Fixed Assets and Tax management. In a complex country environment, within 18 months the relevant structures and systems were put in place to support future growth of the company, and adhere to Group policies.
Joined STL – a recent startup – and immediately began improving P&L and operating performance. Currently perform multiple roles – operations, IT, finance, business development – as the #2 executive. Brought “order out of chaos” by adapting best practices and experience from 15 years at Unilever, for example:
• Startup Project: Cut annual taxes 30% by establishing a new branch office in Hong Kong. Also moved STL’s main office from Shanghai (high rent) to the suburbs (lower rent and faster access to factories).
• Business Development and New Products: Expanded product portfolio, for example, produced preferred-customer cards (similar to credit cards) made from bamboo. Expanded STL’s network of suppliers and customers by reaching out to contacts in personal network (for example. a Belgian food company).
• New Business Processes, IT, and Profit Improvement:
Starting from the ground up, redesigned processes and used advanced IT to automate the existing paper-accounting systems. Introduced secure email, a website, and accounting and financial-reporting software.
Established a new costing system – adapted from the Unilever system – that calculated the full costs and actual profit-and-loss for every sale (for example, overhead, cost-of-sales, and transportation fees).
Saved 30% on purchasing costs by introducing a new bidding process – resulting in optimal pricing and terms – by mandating multiple quotes from vendors.
Consolidated IT systems for the group and integrated the network.
Relocated from Vietnam and made major improvements to Unilever’s West Africa region as the #3 executive in charge of finance and IT. Took charge of a much larger scope of operations– 2000 employees & $265 million turnover – for an area that covered 10 countries from Cameroon to Senegal. Accomplished major goals for Unilever despite ongoing civil war and street violence in Abidjan.
• Transformed the Business Culture: Fixed a local “patronage” problem (excessive headcount with too many people working in the wrong jobs). Replaced the cash payroll – a high-risk and time-wasting practice – with bank accounts and ATM deposits for every employee. Eliminating cash also reduced theft and a major opportunity for corruption.
• Established New Unilever Company in Senegal: Set up a new legal entity – starting from scratch – and managed finance, supply chain, IT, HR, and administration. New company expanded business in West Africa, and acted as a “safe haven” that backed up systems in Cote d’Ivoire, which was politically unstable.
• Additional Actions and Results:
Achieved major goal by accelerated monthly reporting to Unilever’s HQ (completed in 3 days instead of 7).
Eliminated purchasing “kickbacks” via new controls and auditing of purchases. As a result, factory spend dropped by 50% and the factory ran much better because resources were focused on correct priorities.
Introduced a fixed assets management system. Led the annual Operational Control Assessment project (including SOX compliance). Implemented a first-ever ERP system for three companies.
Relocated to Vietnam from Regional Office (Singapore) and immediately began improving IT systems, which were the region’s worst. Added a second role as financial manager for Unilever’s food division.
• IT Innovations: Scaled up IT to match the very fast growth in Unilever’s sales.
Achieved #1 regional ranking for Vietnam’s IT – starting from dead last – via continual upgrades to computers, network, and staff. Reallocated IT budget to spend money on the right priorities.
Set up a new network for all sites (AS400 and over 600 PCs) and project-managed a new ERP system.
Prepared systems for Y2K, which resulted in zero glitches in year 2000.
• Financial Reporting: Achieved “Day 2” monthly financial reporting by reengineering business processes and automating them via new IT systems.
• M&A: Achieved seamless integration of Unilever and Bestfoods operations in Vietnam – the first successful consolidation in the region – and led major integration of all of Unilever’s back office operations in Vietnam.
Promoted to Business Group Accountant: consolidated results for the regional countries, performed analyses on capital proposals (mostly China and Vietnam), and set up new financial systems and transferred the function from London to Singapore. Quality of work led to promotion and assignment in Vietnam.
Promoted to Audit Manager: Led teams (up to 4 auditors) on internal and post-acquisition audits for all countries in East Asia and Pacific region.
Foods Executive: Started career with Unilever in HQ. Project-managed Executive Information Systems and drove implementation of global Personnel and Financial IS.
Designed and implemented a new financial stock system for all 16 European companies.