At Danone, there is a strong belief that both the health of the people and the world are divinely interwoven. Never has its ‘One Planet. One Health’ vision been more relevant. The COVID-19 pandemic has swept the globe, creating panic and, sadly, taking lives.
However, it’s also brought together the entire world to fight for a common resolution and not to take our health for granted. What has isolated people has also united the world. For Danone, a leader in science-based medical nutrition products and services for patients of all ages, this is especially true.
In this difficult time, its passionate teams have banded together from its sites across the world for the same cause – to protect its supply chain and sustain good health by bringing nutritious food to the masses.
“I strongly believe in our mission,” says Jian Li. “At Danone, quality is always number one; business isn’t all about economic value. I’m more intent on adding value to society.”
And true to form, during this uncertain time, Jian’s concern has been with his staff. “Our employees’ safety has been essential,” he stresses. “We’ve set the tone and recognised the impacts, but we have not compromised our values.”
This strong yet compassionate leadership comes naturally to him. In fact, he leaps out of bed each morning for work because of the joy he gets from his employees. For him, investing in them means giving back to society as a whole.
“Every single employee has a family behind them,” he explains. “Their family needs this employment and we give them purpose. And it is my responsibility to take care of them. This makes me very excited. Every time I see a new face in the office, I feel happy. That means we’re doing something right, attracting talent and contributing to society.”
And it does something special for their families as well. Providing more than just a pay cheque, the people-focused company also delivers pride.
“We have a family event where we invite all of our employees’ family members to come to the company and have a party, and we share with them what we’re doing, and their family members feel so proud,” Jian says, beaming.
“The children are so proud of their parents because of what they’ve accomplished.” In this positive environment, the employees at Danone feel safe to innovate. “I encourage my team to dare,” Jian shares.
“I want them to make bold decisions and dare to take risks. If we do something wrong, it’s okay. We can do better. But, by daring to take changes and embrace change, we can make bigger achievements.”
Like creating new product categories in China or developing specialised infant formula that use alternatives to cow’s milk for early life nutrition, or providing advanced medical nutrition for hospital patients and the ageing population, of which the company is especially proud.
When we innovate, we are not only talking about advancing the product; we’re also talking about solutions, such as feeding babies who cannot tolerate normal cow’s milk in their formula and the elderly who cannot digest or swallow their food.
“It’s our vision to be a significant market leader in all categories we play,” Jian says. “We want to deliver the best solutions for consumers with science-backed nutrition. When we innovate, we are not only talking about advancing the product; we’re also talking about solutions, such as feeding babies who cannot tolerate normal cow’s milk in their formula and the elderly who cannot digest or swallow their food. We work to identify their needs and then deliver.”
With parent company Danone’s decades of experience and strong worldwide presence, its Specialized Nutrition business benefits by thinking globally, but acting locally.
“We are global and local – everyone says this, but we’re truly doing it,” Jian points out. “In order to achieve our mission, we have to have a clear strategy about product quality and must also adapt to local needs with global assets. We have to discern what Chinese people think about the international product. Then we create the local product using global science.”
Of utmost importance is the company’s strategic, long-term partnerships with global supply chain providers. Together, they work towards a common goal of delivering on the company’s mission – to bring health through food to as many people as possible.
“We’re responsible for building this global ecosystem,” he explains. “We have trust-filled partnerships because we’ve worked together for many years and live by this same vision. We believe if our partnerships are strong, then the products will be strong too. Not only is it a win–win, but it’s a win–win–win. We win, they win and society ultimately wins.”
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