So ubiquitous is Tetra Pak in the food packaging industry, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who hasn’t, at one time or another, handled one of its products. For more than 60 years, the company has produced reliable, clean packaging for perishables, ever since Dr Ruben Rausing, the founder of Tetra Pak, saw the need for a sturdy, practical container for milk.
A packaging revolution
In the decades following this revolution, Tetra Pak has expanded from its birthplace of Sweden to distributing its products in more than 160 countries – with more than 85 of them having sales offices based there. At the helm of Tetra Pak Indonesia is Managing Director Paolo Maggi. Paolo joined Tetra Pak in 1998 and has worked his way through the ranks, leading Indonesian operations for the company from July 2015.
The archipelago of Indonesia is home to lush, beautiful forests, such as the famous jungles of Sumatra. But such landscapes remain under threat, and in dire need of ecological conservation. Fortunately, Tetra Pak takes this issue seriously, and is at the forefront of sustainable production. “We can claim that already 100% of the paper we use in our manufacturing process is Forest Stewardship Council,” Paolo explains. “In other words, it comes from certified forest resources, where trees are harvested in a controlled environment.”
Tetra Pak has also committed to ensuring that its products are made from renewable resources. Tetra Pak was the first to introduce plant-based lids as part of the company’s gradual move towards totally eco-friendly products. Further, 100% of the material in a one litre Tetra Rex carton is made from renewable resources.
It is with this sense of civic and environmental responsibility that Paolo leads Tetra Pak Indonesia. For example, a recent initiative saw the staff on an unusual excursion. “We actually took the entire office, 160 people, to the Cirebon area, three hours’ train ride away from Jakarta,” says Paolo. “The staff helped local workers to build a library for a school in the Cirebon rural area. The roof and furniture of the entire library were made with recycled Tetra Pak cartons. So, that gives you a little bit of an idea of how we have tried to close this cycle. I’ve been in Indonesia for three years and I can tell you that this was one of the best experiences that I’ve had.”
“I’ve been in Indonesia for three years… and this was one of the best experiences that I’ve had.”
Importance of a reliable team
Paolo wouldn’t be able to achieve this degree of social and environmental awareness without a reliable team behind him. One thing the Indonesian branch of Tetra Pak has in common with its overseas counterparts, Paolo says, is a tendency to hire “really good people”.
A number of the Indonesian team have been with Tetra Pak for many years now; Paolo recognised four employees for their 25 years with the company. These experienced, senior individuals are essential to Tetra Pak, and Paolo believes it’s important to make use of these industry veterans. At the same time, Tetra Pak welcomes younger workers – millennials – who bring fresh ideas and ways of seeing things.
Tetra Pak strives for the company to be self-motivated because Paolo believes it’s important to be able to rely on a team capable of implementing strategies. “I think that investing in the development of our talents and focusing on leadership is important. We invest our time in experienced, confident and competent people capable of executing against the company priorities.”
The development of a high-performing team is not only a necessary step to achieve the quarterly or annually business results, but also needed to ensure the company’s sustainability into the future.“I would feel successful if, when I move on to the next post, my successor would be able to come in and not feel obliged to make drastic changes, because the way forward is already designed, and is working.”
As well as maintaining a strong internal team, Tetra Pak Indonesia also carefully selects its suppliers to complement the strengths of the company. “They are expected to have a high level of competence and experience in their area,” he says. “We quickly learned that outside our core area of focus, we cannot be experts in everything we do. When it comes to, for instance, logistics, distribution and transportation, you want to rely on your partners."
“When it comes to, for instance, logistics, distribution and so forth, you want to rely on your partners.”
“Because we believe that, as they fully understand our needs, they will deliver in a responsible way. Long-term partnership is one of our core values.”
Paolo has two pieces of advice for those starting off in a leadership role. The first is passion. “I think it’s important to choose something that you’re passionate about, because you start at 25, and eventually you end up at 45 and you’re spending a lot more than 40 hours in the office. So you should pick the job that can bring out a passion in you.”
And as for the second piece of advice none can dispute that a lifetime in a high-powered, successful career matures an individual. But Paolo believes it’s essential to hold on to that spark of child-like creativity and wonder. “I would highly recommend young people getting into a career try to stay curious,” he says. “I mean, stay curious, like young kids. Because curiosity is helpful in learning, and learning is one of the things that we quickly tend to forget, once we start our big careers.”