CARLOS BRITO heads the InBev empire, which took over Anheuser-Busch in 2008, and is now deal-making again, to become the world’s largest beer company. He’s a tough guy. Here are a few miscellaneous notes from a June, 2015 article in Financial Times, in no particular order.
SPEED: Within 24 hours of the acquisition’s close, Brito & Team invaded Anheuser Busch’s HQ in St. Louis to start shaking up its comfortable way of working. ·Brito: “In any company, there are 20% leading, 70% following, 10% contributing nothing – you have to at least get rid of the 10% – they’re always unhappy and complaining anyway.”
OBSESSION: The 55-year-old Brazilian professes NO hobbies or outside interests. “My life is the business; my chosen work, and my family. There’s no time for anything more and there’s nothing else that interests me more.” At the company’s global HQ near Brussels, posters throughout remind with pun that “We Pour Ourselves Into Our Work.”
DEMANDING: ·Young and ambitious staff say it’s hard to maintain a social life, and their family and friends accuse InBev of “brainwashing.” A university prof closely observing uses that same term, as well as noting that InBev creates enormous, high pressure internal competition. ·In 2014, nearly 100,000 applied for 147 graduate jobs – put through a series of seven online exercises and interviews, each tougher than the last. Few make it to the seventh tier of application.
FANTATICISM: Jim Collins, celebrated Good To Great author (somewhat surprisingly) admires the InBev culture – he wrote: “When fanatics come together with other fanatics, the multiplicative effect is unstoppable.” Renegade Millionaires do what others fear and find offensive: declare themselves superior to all others and set out to prove it.
PRAGMATISM: Brito: “Beer isn’t magic. It’s process.” Note: most Big Winners are not endlessly fiddling with deliverable improvements; they are far more focused on process improvement, particularly those hooked to getting customers. ·Brito: “We have a culture in which nothing is thought of as stable, we encourage discomfort and when smugness sets in, we shake the tree.” One ousted AB senior exec said, somewhat in awe, that Brito & Team made all tough decisions with no emotion.
CRITICIZED: Brito is frequently and widely criticized by burnt out and discarded employees as well as by business and mainstream media. On a site that allows staff and former staff to rate employers anonymously, InBev’s favorables are lower than its three chief competitors, all of whom it whips in the marketplace – except for ‘career opportunities’ where it ranks highest.
The coming months and years promise Extreme Darwinism in many business categories, and it’s gonna be Get Tough Or Die. Marshmallows will be torched and eaten. The soft and the slow will be trampled. This guy has a grip on it. Do you?