Corporate leadership from Cargill visited SDSB LUMS on the 16th of January 2019, Wednesday to meet with the students in a two-hour session. Cargill International and Pakistan was represented by Mr. Imran Jehangir Nasrullah, CEO of Cargill Pakistan and Group Director Agricultural Supply Chain Asia; Mr. Mumtaz Kazmi, Vice President Corporate Development & Strategy Cargill Inc.; Mr. Gert-Jan Van Den Akker (GJ), President at Cargill Agricultural Supply Chain, President and Chief Executive Officer Cargill International SA; Mr. Marcellinus H.M. Smits, Chairman of Asia Pacific & Head of Corporate Strategy, Singapore; Ms. Irene Rizzi, Enterprise Strategy Lead at Cargill Agricultural Supply Chain; Mr. Mark Stonacek, Vice President Finance at Cargill Agricultural Supply Chain. Syed Babar Ali and Mr. Shahid Hussain, the Rector of SDSB attended this event to welcome the leadership to LUMS.
The session began in SDSB where Dr. Bushra Naqvi, Associate Dean of Graduate Programmes shared insights about SDSB and LUMS. Following this, Mr. Marcel began his presentation by emphasising the importance of ‘leading through change’ and the ways Cargill remains a principled business in the midst of changing geopolitical landscapes. He mentioned that ‘training the next generation of leaders is critical in navigating that landscape’. With Cargill’s expanding operations in Pakistan, it will be looking to recruit the versatile talent from LUMS and he stressed on the importance of hiring the right people for the right jobs. He talked about framing the complex (situation of the world) and the ever-changing normal. He also talked about the four leadership priorities that he thought should remain constant in the face of global disruption. From modest roots in the United State’s Midwest, Cargill has grown to be a global leader in food and agriculture. What differentiates Cargill from many other food and agriculture companies is the reach of Cargill’s global supply chains. He highlighted that ‘doing business ethically’ is the core of the company’s operations. Given this scope, it’s safe to assume that people eat something that Cargill produced each and every day. At a high-level, here’s what they do:
- Take food and agricultural commodities from farmers and producers around the world.
- Store it and sometimes add value by turning it into other ingredients or creating cuts of meat with flavors and seasoning.
- Then move it around the world and deliver it to customers who sell it in the restaurants and grocery stores people visit every day.
Mr. Gert-Jan Van Den Akker (GJ), continued with the rest of the presentation, where he shared the many factors which keep economies and businesses in a volatile state e.g. Nuclear crisis in a few countries, Brexit, changing consumer preferences which impact agricultural supply chains and the dynamics of nourishing 9 billion people by 2050 with a changing climate. He mentioned that Cargill has managed volatility for more than 150 years and have made strategies to cope with how fluctuations in one area have follow-on effects in other areas. The company works across 70 countries with unique business cultures and value systems. For the past few years, Cargill has been making a number of changes aimed at 1) simplifying company’s structure, 2) increasing the speed of decision-making, and 3) ensuring greater agility. In Pakistan particularly, Cargill is seeing a lot of changes: marked improvement in the security situation; CPEC project and its investment in various areas; dynamic relations with Western countries and regional players such as India, China, Iran etc. and its impact on bilateral trades; reformations in the policies on Corruption, Bribery etc. and its positive impact on FDI. He shared that Cargill manages agricultural supply chains all over the world which inherently involves careful considerations when it comes to balancing productivity with land, water and climate decisions.
Both the gentlemen talked extensively about ‘food safety’ and ‘food security’ as well as the many options of trade and business available in the South-Asian region. Recently, Cargill has spoken out about taking a bold stand on the importance of trade to the global economy: this is a position that many other leaders in the United States and around the world have felt politically risky, as trade is currently under attack in many parts of the world. Hence, we need to stand up for trade because it strengthens economies and communities. Cargill is working to address the global skills gap which includes building new workforce paradigm to train and retain global talent. They also mentioned the importance of leaders taking ‘bold, decisive action’ and having a ‘principled approach’ in business. Another constant which they talked about, is the need to ‘prioritise innovation and ingenuity’ which helps them in keeping themselves entrepreneurial, ready to help customers and poised to take action when they see an opportunity.
Both the gentlemen along with Mr. Imran and Ms. Irene, highlighted the fact that Cargill strives to be a good corporate citizen of Pakistan. Their businesses and people are actively engaged in giving back to the communities where they live, work and do business. Corporate responsibility initiatives undertaken so far include in Pakistan include:
- Community Support - In 2009, Cargill employees and businesses donated USD 100,000 to help refugees returning to Swat Valley rebuild their lives after they were displaced by a conflict. USD 25,000 went to the World Food Programme to provide food aid to returning families, while Mercy Relief received USD 75,000 to establish a Maternity and Children Healthcare Centre in Mingora that now provides general, pediatric and maternity care.
- Disaster Relief – Cargill is also supporting disaster relief efforts in Pakistan. For example, to help victims of the 2005 earthquake in Azad Kashmir, as well as the devastating floods of 2010, the company donated close to USD 100,000 as well as food and supplies. On both occasions the employees in Pakistan also contributed a portion of their salaries to these causes.
- Cargill RizqBank - Proposed CR partnership in Pakistan (Jan 2019-Apr 2021)
Around 100 million Pakistani’s face food insecurity (50% population). Pakistan also ranks 3rd globally, in the number of stunted children below 6 years. Being an agriculturally resource-rich country, such prevalence of hunger is unnecessary and unacceptable. They propose establishing food banks, RizqBanks, to eradicate food insecurity & hunger in slum communities by addressing food supply to households. This will be done through a partnership between Cargill, Rizq and PDX where each partner contributes essential resources towards a shared goal. The partnership will start from establishing a model to end hunger in Karachi, and then spread nationwide in the coming few years. Cargill will provide its technology platforms to mobilise food and funds. In the midst of an increasingly dynamic business climate, the final constant which they highlighted is the importance of ‘defining impact broadly’. Ms. Irene Rizzi talked about the equal-opportunity factor at Cargill and that the working culture is extremely conducive for women of all levels within the company.
The session was open for Q&A at the end, where Dr. Arshad Ahmad – Vice Chancellor of LUMS thanked the team for their visit and queried about their interest in visiting Pakistan and LUMS. The most important comment came from Syed Babar Ali, who mentioned the great importance of integrity and truthfulness which an ideal LUMS student must have. Several questions came from the students’ side which talked about food security and food safety as well as troubles of working in an unstable geopolitical environment. A student volunteer who is working with Rizq raised a question about the method and approach of creating food abundance in Pakistan. To which, the Cargill representatives committed that a value-driven approach to leadership will be taken which will make a difference as well as profits.
The entire event concluded shortly after Q&A with coffee, snacks and networking.