• General Mills managing director Matt Salter.
    General Mills managing director Matt Salter.

We ask industry leaders five questions about their working life. This month we talk to Matt Salter from General Mills. This article first appeared in the August 2021 issue of Food and Drink Business.

1. Tell us about your current role.

I was recently appointed managing director at General Mills for Australia and New Zealand, having started with the organisation more than 20 years ago as a sales merchandiser. General Mills makes and distributes over 100 brands across six continents including Nature Valley, Old El Paso and Häagen-Dazs. We are passionate about making food people love.

In Australia and New Zealand, we have a strong intent to accelerate growth, but equally we aim to stand among the most socially responsible food companies in the world. We want to treat the world with care, not only because our business depends on key natural resources that we seek to regenerate, but because we operate in communities and rely on our people every single day and it’s the right thing to do.

2. What has been your greatest achievement to date?

For me it is about enabling my teams to realise their full potential. Creating an environment of trust and psychological safety so that they feel confident to be curious, to create, to bring forward ideas, to collaborate and challenge behind a well-defined strategic pathway and set of priorities. I’ve loved seeing the impact that setting has on innovation, the way we connect through culture with consumers and how we have leveraged our scale to be a force for good.

3. What was your biggest mistake and what did you learn?

Only one? There have been many, and I think the second part of the question is the critical one. Most of my mistakes came about when I was making too many assumptions rather than listening attentively and asking the right questions at the right time. For me, what is key is what you do next. Be brave to call it, own it and then move on to what you are going to do about it. From mistakes there is growth, it’s that opportunity that excites me!

4. What would you tell your 25-year-old self?

You will have many careers and opportunities so lean into change, surround yourself with people smarter than you and spend less time talking and more time listening.

5. What is one goal you still want to achieve?

I want to lead General Mills ANZ to deliver against our ambition of being seen as a multinational start-up and net exporter of ideas, with disruptive growth that consistently outpaces our peers. I want to see our culture of learning, growing, and belonging enable bold brand building, relentless innovation, leveraging our scale, and being a force for good.

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