Harnessing “The Power of We”
General Mills opened its doors to a group of external partner companies to discuss current business needs and recognize outstanding performance at our 2013 Supplier Summit.
Tim Coats, vice president of Worldwide Sourcing for General Mills, kicked off the spring event at our headquarters by sharing his belief in “The Power of We” – or the idea that the better we collaborate with our suppliers and partners, the more beneficial it is for both of our businesses.
This connected approach to innovation has become a core growth strategy for General Mills; in fact, we formally adopted our open innovation platform, the General Mills Worldwide Innovation Network (G-WIN), six years ago.
This year, our Supplier Summit brought together 49 of our key suppliers to network with our top executives and division leadership to discuss actionable, mutually beneficial innovation strategies.
General Mills chairman and CEO Ken Powell shared his belief that partnering with our suppliers can accelerate innovation.
“When we do this right, we improve each other,” Ken said as he addressed the Supplier Summit.
Throughout the afternoon, attendees heard from some of the top leaders at General Mills, who shared their perspectives on the company’s vision for innovation through collaboration, and also highlighted examples of our successful externally-enabled products and projects, such as Yoplait Greek 100 and Nature Valley Protein.
Attendees at the event then had the chance to ask questions during a panel discussion featuring General Mills executives Peter Erickson, executive vice president of Innovation, Technology and Quality; Paul Lokar, vice president of Manufacturing; and Coats.
Additionally, seven suppliers were recognized with “Champion Awards” for their outstanding partnerships with General Mills:
· Oregon Potato Company – Supply Chain Champion Award
· Printpack, Inc. and Toray Plastics America, Inc. – Collaboration Champion Award
· IOI Loders Croklaan Americas – Technology Partnership Champion Award
· Sweet Harvest Foods, Inc. – Nourishing Lives Champion Award
· Shearer’s Foods, Inc. – Off the Shelf Innovation Award
· Walter G. Anderson, Inc. – Sustainability & Quality Champion Award
· Graphic Packaging International – HMM Champion Award
Following the speakers and awards session, suppliers were given the opportunity to learn about the current, specific innovation needs of our various product platforms and divisions, and were asked to propose their potential solutions. The Supplier Summit concluded with a social hour and networking event held in the General Mills cafeteria.
The 2013 Supplier Summit was co-chaired by General Mills R&D Director Amy Abouelenein, whom I asked to share her thoughts on the event:
What was the objective of the 2013 Supplier Summit?
Abouelenein: Our theme was “Connect, Create, Elevate,” which encompassed a number of goals. We wanted to demonstrate to our core suppliers our commitment to working more openly to deliver differential advantage in the marketplace and our belief that strong partnerships deliver innovation and value.
How were the invited suppliers selected?
Abouelenein: Attendees of our Supplier Summit represent companies that have demonstrated a track record of bringing innovation that drives growth for General Mills or have shown a willingness to partner with us in differential ways. Many of the suppliers we invited also have global capabilities.
What trends were apparent at the Supplier Summit, whether reflected in the needs of our platforms and/or in the solutions proposed by suppliers?
Abouelenein: Common themes included simplicity, sustainability, remarkable packaging and protein.
How have our two previous Supplier Summits benefitted General Mills and our partner companies?
Abouelenein: For our suppliers, the Supplier Summits demonstrate General Mills’ commitment to external innovation and relationships, and provides an opportunity to hear about our strategies, business priorities and needs. From our perspective, we believe the Supplier Summits help elevate our status as a partner of choice, and give us increased access to supplier innovation. We also value the opportunity to recognize suppliers bringing differential value, which we believe inspires all of our suppliers to excel in their projects with General Mills.