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Walton College

The Sam M. Walton College of Business

Episode 190: Developing a Global Leadership Mindset with Anton Vincent

August 31, 2022  |  By Matt Waller

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This week on the podcast Matt sat down with Anton Vincent, President for Mars Wrigley North America and former President at General Mills of multiple divisions. Anton highlights his experience in mergers and acquisitions, which helped him successfully navigate the acquisition of Pillsbury by General Mills. They then focus on discussing Mars Wrigley and especially their work in pet food and pet health. They finish the discussion with Anton’s approach to leadership that is driven by mindset, consistency and talent development. 

Episode Transcript

Anton Vincent  0:01  
It goes beyond digital marketing, which is where most of the demand side tends to go to as well. And then we say your digitizing your organization to try to understand what the future may be offering you so you can get ahead of it.

Matt Waller  0:14  
Excellence, professionalism, innovation and collegiality. These are the values the Sam M. Walton College of Business explores in education, business and the lives of people we meet every day, I'm Matt Waller, Dean of the Walton College and welcome to the Be Epic podcast. I have with me today. Anton Vincent, who is the president of Mars Wrigley, North America. Thank you so much, Anton, for joining me today. I really appreciate it.

Anton Vincent  0:46  
I'm excited to be here and big fan of the school. And I just really excited to talk to you and your audience today.

Matt Waller  0:53  
Well, thank you. Well, you know, when I look at your background, and I know, many people recommended that I talk to you, CPG people. I know that you have a lot of expertise in marketing, leadership, transformational leadership, change management, those kinds of things. And I'd love to chat with you about that today. But I know that you early on in your career started, not not at the very beginning of your career, but you eventually were at General Mills, in a marketing position, is that correct?

Anton Vincent  1:38  
Yeah, that's correct. You know, when I, when I came out, and I got my MBA at Kellogg School of Business at Indiana University, and had an opportunity to come to General Mills, and you know, had had quite a long run at General Mills as well. So it was a, you know, incredible company, do things the right way. But when when, you know, so I thought those values certainly worked for me, which is part of the reason I was there for so long.

Matt Waller  2:02  
Within General Mills, you also had, you rose through the ranks quickly. You had experience in mergers and acquisitions, including with the Pillsbury acquisition team. But you also were president of the baking division, the frozen frontier division and the snack division. That's a that's a broad range of experiences. Would you mind just chatting a little bit about how that prepared you for the senior leadership position you have now?

Anton Vincent  2:39  
Yeah, you know, I think one of the one of the great things about companies like General Mills is that it's a pretty broad based company. You know, we depending on how you construct the categories. We competed in somewhere between 15 and 16 categories at one time, that was spread all around primarily around the grocery store. So I think what that allows you to do is to have very different experiences inside of the same company. Right? And also help you to really hone your leadership skills, moving from one type of business with a certain type of consumer to a different kind of consumer to different kinds of consumer and maybe a different business model. And so I think the breadth of not just the leadership, but just coming through the ranks as well, you know, coming through the ranks of a diversified company like that, it really prepares you to see a lot of very different business situations. But it helps you to really have a great understanding around what does great teaming look like what does great leadership look like, what does great followership look like, and then how to perform in those different situations. And so by the time you hit to be a president level, you have know sort of true enterprise accountability. You know, you, you know, you're, you're, well, you're well suited to run an enterprise with a level of operational clarity and a level of strategic clarity that you can apply in the marketplace, you know, on behalf of that company, as well as I felt like I was at General Mills for 23 years. I felt like I just got the education of a lifetime, just, you know, with so many different and varied experiences as well. 

Matt Waller  4:06  
What I remember when General Mills bought Pillsbury from Diageo, because Diageo bought Pillsbury, that seemed like they didn't have them very long, 

Anton Vincent  4:16  
Not very long. 

Matt Waller  4:17  
And then they sold it to General Mills. And, of course, I remember thinking, well, that's interesting, because Pillsbury and General Mills are both in Minneapolis the headquarters, that I wonder if that helps from a corporate culture perspective.

Anton Vincent  4:33  
Yeah, it was interesting. You know, we spent a lot of time talking about that. And certainly, you know, from a region and a value system, and the other is a level of consistency in the Twin Cities if you have ever lived there for any period of time. Well run town, great people, you know, big white collar town. You know, at one time, we had upwards of 18 Fortune 500 headquarters in the Twin Cities, right? So it was a headquarter town, and therefore, you had a lot of great talent in town as well. But like you said, you know, even if you're you're in the same town doesn't necessarily mean you have the same culture. So we spent an incredible amount of time, sort of making sure we understood what was great about Pillsbury, what was great about General Mills. And we didn't want to, we never wanted to make the Pillsbury employee base feel like, feel like they were acquired. Right? This is much more of a partnership. And that, you know, we were better together as well. And just from a strategic perspective, you know, General Mills was a great company, but it was a couple things that were missing. At the time, you know, we didn't have a really a significant international footprint, we had a, I will say, a fledgling export business at the time, you know, two 300 million, maybe at its high. We also didn't have a big exposure to what we call out of home, what was classically called Food Service, as well. And then, you know, Pillsbury has some incredible brands, I mean, obviously, the Pillsbury brand, you know, we bought Haagen Dazs, as a part of that, as well. So we got into the ice cream business. And so that really helped us to really fill out our portfolio, both in the US, but more specifically outside of the US borders, and also expanded our scope of activity outside of primarily sort of in home products, as well. And so it was really a big, transformational acquisition, for General Mills to really reset the company. We felt like there was significant synergy in the deal, which you always want to have. But also there was significant growth as well, both in the US and outside of our borders, as well. And so I, you know, I felt we did a really good job and, you know, sort of scoping and making sure the strategy was right, and then I always tell people, you know, it's easy to buy a business, the hard part is to make it work, once you acquire it, it took us some time, you know, we didn't. We had to learn those businesses, because many of those businesses were categories that we had not competed in, and it will, most people may not remember, you know, we essentially doubled the size of General Mills we're probably six and a half billion at the time, you know, on the back end of that portfolio, we're probably 12 13 billion. So the scope and the scale of the business, I mean, literally doubled overnight. And that's a very, very different leadership challenge is a very, very different communication challenge. And then again, making sure you're bringing, back your initial point, two pools of very talented associates together. So we can be better together and really spending a lot of time on the on the culture piece on the integration piece. And on learning because I'll tell you the General Mills side we had to really learn those Pillsbury businesses. And they were markedly different than what we had primarily had General Mills. And of course, the Pillsbury folks had to learn General Mills business as well. So it really was a combination, but it was really a story. And how do you bring two really high performing cultures together, so that we're better together.

Matt Waller  7:33  
And I remember when they combined in Northwest Arkansas the team serving Walmart, they combined the Pillsbury and General Mills team, and I could tell that you will have done a nice job of that kind of integration. And I remember, the team leader, after the acquisition was the team leader that was the team leader from Pilsbury.

Anton Vincent  7:56  
Yeah, you know, we, you know, we had great had great teams at Walmart. We just found it was Alex Cornett, who, you know, doing it, and Alex was incredible. I mean

Matt Waller  8:05  
He's incredible. 

Anton Vincent  8:06  
Yeah, I mean, he was just the kind of leader and just had the kind of customer intimacy that candidly we thought we were very good at. And we were very good at, but he had it at Walmart, I just gotta tell you. And I think that became very evident to us. And it was important for us, because like, we want the best possible person, right. best possible leader. Alex was clearly that person and also we wanted to send a signal to the Pillsbury employees who say, hey, look, we're not, you know, we're not always sort of saying it's gotta be General Mills people to get all the big jobs at least immediately, and so I thought that was a great signal that we sent and Alex did a fantastic job leading the team.

Matt Waller  8:40  
But I really think that did send a signal. The other thing I wanted to ask you about, I've had a number of people that I've interviewed, CEOs, where they, they didn't just stay in the same area, they moved. And I know, in your case, you could have just stayed in marketing, but you went over to m&a. And I just think that that would be very developing kind of an experience.

Anton Vincent  9:07  
It was and you know, it was interesting that how that came about, was pretty interesting. You know, and most people don't know, but I left General Mills for a couple of years. I had an opportunity to be a part of an investor group to go and buy a restaurant franchise. So I was Applebee's franchisee. And I left after about five years at General Mills, you know, got a part of a group and things moved very, very, very fast. And next thing I know, I am my wife of two months, so I was like, guess what? We're about to go on this adventure together. And, you know, eventually it was I always say it was a great business. It was a it was a bad set of partners and so that it was pretty short lived. But you know, I was asked to come back to General Mills. And one of the things you know, talking about leadership, one of the things I want to do is say, hey, look I, look, I had a great track record General Mills at that time, glad that people wanted me to come back but I said I just wanted to experience it. from a different vantage point, it was very important to me and I said what that was, that was my only requirement. If I was going to come back, we're gonna do that. So I didn't want to go back into sort of running businesses directly, you know, not right away. And it just so happened, that we were about to go public with our offer to purchase the Pillsbury company. And, and I was asked to be a part of that acquisition team as well. So it was, you know, it was a blessing, it was great timing, and just got some really, really differential skills about A just a strategy around, he decided to expand in organically via acquisition, and just all the machinations that have to go through making sure the strategy is right, selling it through the board, and then really spending an incredible amount of time around integration and then getting the value out of the acquisition on the back end. And you know I just think, got the education of my lifetime. And a big part of my job was helping on the core team, but also doing some stuff on the back end, there were a couple of provisions in that particular acquisition agreement that had some options around our ice cream business We also were still trying to expand in the natural and organic space. We'd had a good base, and we knew we're going to be doing more there as well. And so it really helped me to process the company in very long term context, as opposed to just operating the business on a day to day and obviously driving top line and bottom line results.

Matt Waller  11:21  
Because I know you later then were involved in being president of the baking divisions, you've been president of several divisions. And I would think baking I just thinking about baking with respect to the acquisition, because Pillsbury had a lot of baking, you know, if you consider refrigerated dough, but of course, General Mills obviously did. Was was that division did it include both areas of baking, or was it just General Mills? 

Anton Vincent  11:52  
No, it did not. And you know, you're asking a very important questions, because whenever you start to put portfolios together, you got to ask yourself a lot of questions. And then one of those questions is already like what, like, where do we drive unique value? That's number one. And then how do we construct it in such a way that we can actually go and get that value? And then one of the decisions we made just first we said, hey, look, especially as a as a General Mills heritage that we call, it's like, look, we don't know these businesses. So let's make sure we actually kept those businesses together. Right. So we actually formed a Pillsbury division. And in that division, essentially, were all of the, I would say, the lion's share of the Pillsbury business, there was a couple of ones who were not in there as well. And that's important, because some years later, we decided to actually break it up. And really put it on on a different kind of construct as well. And so as a result of that, I kept all of just what we call so the classic General Mills baking business, which at time was primarily all of the Betty Crocker businesses. And then, you know, we were the largest flour manufacturer. I think, General Mills still is the largest flour manufacturer in the US, which are very large, very profitable businesses as well. And so everything from all the Betty Crocker lines, and, you know, the cakes, frostings, the brownies, the muffins, and it was all aligned and those types of things. And then that included also the flour business as well. So it was a very, very diverse businesses, those are businesses that are really have a lot of exposure to agricultural cycles, as well. And so I spent just as much time with my grain traders, you know, as I did with my marketers, you know, being a president because look, if you don't buy properly, in an agriculturally based business, it can really do damage to your p&l, right and, and force you to make some some pretty, pretty, pretty tough decisions as well. And so that was a very as my first president job, I loved it, because it gave me the strategy and the enterprise piece as well. But it forced me actually to build some new skills in areas that I have not spent a lot of time on that actually had some experience in baking. But it was very, very, very early in my career. And I didn't I didn't touch a lot of the very sophisticated things that General Mills does continue to do on the trading and the commodity front as well. And so that that helped us to really understand how to drive value at sort of the beginning of the supply chain. And then that gave us a bit of understanding around alright now look how does that help us to build strategy as we start to enter the marketplace and start to market our finished products.

Matt Waller  14:23  
You mentioned as president of the baking division being very engaged with the procurement of grain on the one hand, but on the other hand, marking kind of the big picture. And I remember how diligent General Mills was about making sure they knew exactly where their grain was coming from. We were talking about we did some project I think, well it was with was with the cereal, ready to eat breakfast cereal area. But he was explaining to me that we have all kinds of sensors around to make sure that the water is good, there's no radiation in there, etc, etc, all kinds of things. And but I thought yeah, that's a that's a tricky business in some ways, especially when you've got inflation and commodities or droughts.

Anton Vincent  15:16  
Yes, two things. First of all, you know, most most commodity businesses are global businesses. And so we have a global supply chain, we needed that just because of the scale that we had as well. And then you know, where it really gets to it is formulation, right? Because, you know, while we were big grain acquirers, we needed to make sure we had a certain spec, and those specs weren't available all around the world. And so you really need to understand your supply, you need to cultivate your supply need to have great global sourcing relationships, so that you can get the kind of grain that would actually fit your, your, your spec, because that's what makes you different in the marketplace from from a product perspective. And so there was absolutely right in terms of making sure that there was an incredibly high level of clarity in terms of the relationships, you know, making sure our sourcing circles were properly understood, we got the right level of investment, and sometimes investing in actual suppliers, to make sure they were in a position to supply us regardless of what the economic situation was. And also you spent a lot of time understand pricing and pricing models as well. And so it really fully integrated. I would say from that perspective, before you even get upstream and started to produce and market and so on and so forth it's just I always tell people, you know, a lot of time how you build value is how you buy stuff, it's not how you sell stuff, you don't buy it, right, you don't have a margin structure to go and actually invest against. So I'm always imploring students, you know, other leaders is like, man, you know, understand where your value is created. And it's not created the same in every company, it's not even created the same in every CPG company, but, boy, if you don't understand what that really looks like, or if you have a misperception around whatever value is created, or how to value create in your company, you can really miss a lot of opportunity to perform your p&l.

Matt Waller  16:55  
I would imagine that skill that you honed on understanding the value proposition and the p&l must have really been helpful when you transition to being president of Mars Wrigley, North America, a new a new business.

Anton Vincent  17:16  
Yeah, no, it really is. I think the one thing and the beautiful thing about Mars and one of the reasons that I decided to come to Mars, so it's one of the you know, see incredible global business. Now we're a private company, and we don't quote numbers. But the one number is that, you know, we're $45 billion company. You know, we play in primarily three big segments, you know, it's the confection piece. We're the largest confectionery company in the world. We're also the largest pet care company in the world, you know, which includes pet nutrition, it includes our veterinary health services includes sort of technology between those two as well. So and a food business, as well. And so it's much more integrated than one would seem, but I think the global nature of it, and then the scale on top of that global nature of it really sort of forces you to sort of process at a very high level but still have the significant operational depth you need to have almost market by market to make sure we can sort of push our business model forward.

Matt Waller  18:07  
In the pet business. 

Anton Vincent  18:09  

Matt Waller  18:10  
That is interesting, because, you know, you've been at Mars Wrigley, pre pandemic.

Anton Vincent  18:16  

Matt Waller  18:17  
You joined in 2019. But I'm no expert on the pet business. But from my reading of the Wall Street Journal and Barron's. It seems to me that the pet business exploded. And I think it's, it's got to be because of your leadership at Mars Wrigley.

Anton Vincent  18:37  
Well, here's what I would say. We have an incredible pet business. I mean, incredible. But also, most people don't know that. On the year of 2020, there were 11 million pet adoptions in the just in the US alone, we quote global numbers. So what happens when you adopt a pet? You got to feed him, you got to give him healthcare. So what kind of business do we have? We have nutrition business, we have a healthcare business. So so I would say that that was, you know, it was already on trend. So it was what we call a tailwind category, meaning is growing at a certain rate. But you know, when the pandemic hit, I mean it really put that business across the entire pet ecosystem, just just hyperspeed as well. And I think the people who run that part of the business were very, very well positioned to take advantage of it as well. And now that we're on the backside of that big surge, you know, really continuing to grow in very interesting and innovative ways as well. I mean, it is really an impressive business.

Matt Waller  19:32  
Yeah. And you're, you're in the health, pet health business. I've read a little bit about that as well. And I know that one of the big challenges, there is just vets, there's a shortage I think there's a shortage of vets.

Anton Vincent  19:47  
There is definitely a shortage of vets. And I think one of the things we're doing you know, we're investing in veterinary you know, health programs as well. I mean, like direct investment in schools and having good kids scholarships and things of that nature because you're right, you know, there's the supply side of the veterinarian business is tough. And as someone who has, you know, I still, I believe this vet this, but I still think we're the number one employer in veterinarians in the United States at least. And so, you know, clearly, we need to be able to have a supply of those veterinarians to making sure they're taking advantage of all the opportunities that we have across our pet ecosystem.

Matt Waller  20:19  
Yeah, and you know, there's so many innovative things going on in the world around pet nutrition, and so and even veterinary like pharmaceuticals for pets. I know, one of the one guy that I interviewed on here a couple of years ago, is the CEO of vet source. And they, they're, I think they were the first e commerce company providing pharmaceuticals for pet. But I think that that company has grown a lot. I think they have.

Anton Vincent  20:53  
Yeah, they have and I think you know, one thing about pets and people have to understand, it's just that look everything that human needs, for the most part pets need. So you just have to think all the things that we need, we need to feed ourselves, we need to take care of ourselves, we have to educate our you know, all those things that we have to entertain our so you know, the all those things that we need, you know that so, so you have to think about is truly an alternative ecosystem, right, and all the things that can happen within an ecosystem, you know, we happen to be big in the nutrition parts of it in the health, healthcare parts of it. But you can imagine, there's a lot of opportunities within an ecosystem for people to go into build business. So that's number one. Number two, I always tell people, you can always you can always have a good understanding around what's hot, because there's usually a lot of money being raised, usually in private equity or VC world to go and acquire assets. And, you know, you sort of look at all the rigs on that, you know, there's some very interesting space where people are raising money, you know, because they see the growth, and whether it's growth is going to be investment capacity, to go after that growth, and try to try to build something on the back of it as well, it's so so it's a very rich and very, very robust space. And I don't know about you, I'm an animal owner, I treat my animals very good. And most pet, you know, most people we call them pet parents, most pet parents will do anything for the animal

Matt Waller  22:10  
Oh, absolutely

Anton Vincent  22:11  
I mean will do anything. And so you know, that, you know, as as a consumer and trying to attack that from a consumer perspective, you know, and as the marketer in me, you know, I could have a field day with it. And we do but, you know, I think we do it in various principal ways. You know, we're really focused on that pet, we're really focused on the pet parents are really focused on really helping that pet have an incredible experience, you know, our vision in pet is a better word for pets. You know, it's very simple, but it's very powerful  and I think the pet side of the business is very united around that. And it's a very much of a 360 ecosystem, you know, to make sure that pet is having the best possible experience. And the pet parent, you know, it's obviously in the middle of that as well.

Matt Waller  22:52  
I'd love to hear a little bit about your philosophy around leadership. And I say that in the broad sense to include change management. 

Anton Vincent  22:59  

Matt Waller  23:00  
and so forth. And, and also your approach to leadership.

Anton Vincent  23:07  
Yeah, you know, I think, first of all, I talk, I talk to a lot of folks, but particularly when I'm talking to sort of younger associates and younger professionals, you know, I think leadership is a thing. It is not a title. 

Matt Waller  23:09  

Anton Vincent  23:09  
That's where I start, you know, first thing they see, you know, the titles, they see this and that, and so on and so forth. and I was like, no here's the thing, it is a really important set of capabilities that I think if you don't do it well, businesses suffer. So it should be taken incredibly seriously. I think for me, you know, I start off with trying to set a high standard of performance. That's first and foremost, you know, and apart of it is the ex athlete in me. I was a student, you know, student athlete in college. And, you know, we are here to do great things, and we're here to win. And so a lot of that is mindset driven. We don't want to cut corners, we don't do things we're not supposed to do. But we got to have an objective that is always pushing us, and always pushing the organization. I mean, to me, that is the lifeblood that is the energy, you know, around leadership. And and that's not to say to everybody can't do that, but leadership sets the tone. So I absolutely believe the leadership sets the tone. I think the second thing, you know, for me around leadership is just around consistency. You know, we live in a world where doing good is great, but doing good consistently is better. And it's differential, you know, whether you're a public company, a private company, it doesn't, it doesn't make a difference. So just making sure that we have consistency in our performance. We had a consistency at a high level. And I think the third thing is really around just talent management, talent development. You know, I've had a nice long career. And I think, you know, I think the heartbeat of any company in any organization is how are you developing your pipelines? You know, how are you spending time and identifying the leaders of tomorrow? How are you setting the example how are you making sure that when all of us are going and doing something else, that the enterprise is well stocked that it's ready for all the future things that we spent our time planning for. Right, I think that's really really really really, really critical. And I think the last thing for me, I think it's the fourth thing is just around a little bit akin to the third one, it's just around diversity and inclusion. And not because I'm an African American leader it's just I don't think you can be a serious leader, regardless of size and scope of your business without really understanding around how to get the most out of every professional in this case, that you that you've been asked to lead as well. And that that transcends race that transcends gender, and so on, and so forth. And so just making sure that there is a bit of a focus and connection around making sure that you are really trying to help every associate every employee self actualize. And that's just always been my foundation. Because I think if you do that you you really are creating tomorrow's leaders, you creating performance consistency, and you do what, I think what a set of principles, certainly here at Mars, that we can be proud of.

Matt Waller  25:54  
Anton, it seems that what leaders are being asked to do today, especially leaders, like yourself, of global companies that are well known. You know, your scope has changed a lot over the years. But I'd love to know, how has it affected your approach to leadership?

Anton Vincent  26:18  
I think is has affected my my approach, in a couple of ways. And I you know, I laugh when I say this, but I think we all you recognize this, when I say it, we're all supply chain experts today. 

Matt Waller  26:31  
Boy that's true.

Anton Vincent  26:32  
I don't care what your title is, I don't care what your primary function is your primary domain, I just think the one of the beautiful things that COVID in particular has done is forced leaders, enterprise leaders to truly be more enterprise. Now, you know, I came up on the demand side and marketing, sales, so on and so forth. And so that I got that down, cold and understand that. But I think it was really forced us to really understand our business models, and to really start to try to bulletproof our business models, you know, because I came up in the use on the education side, you got to have a moat, and so on and so forth. And I think, you know, conceptually, that's still true. But you know, barriers to entry are very low for most businesses, now. Most of us have a global supply chain. So what happens in other parts of the world has a very, very direct impact on what I'm able to do with my business. And so that has forced me to sort of take my attention far afield sometimes, and make sure that I'm understanding it and giving a direction around that as well. And the I just think the second piece is, you know, we've all been talking about the digital revolution. And I always say, I always tell people that the, the two most overused words in business are innovation and digital. You know, don't get me wrong, they're really relevant. and trust me we all we all spend a lot of time on those things. But, but digital, I'd say, just as an idea is such a transforming concept. And it goes beyond that digital marketing, which is where most of the demand side tends to go to as well, when you're when you say you're digitizing your organization, when you try to be a data and analytics foundation, that it gives you an opportunity to actually see better to sense better, to try to understand what the future may be offering you so you can get ahead of it. You know, those are those are the transformational types of concepts, that I still think we're just at the beginning of at this point. And so I think as leaders, you know, we're spending a lot more time on that. And I think the third thing, particularly for a global leader, you know, regulation, you know, what you're allowed or not allowed to do in certain countries, how those regulations are changing how they're actually forcing you to change your business model. I know me, I spent a significant amount of time on that. And, you know, I lead a lot of the regulatory activity here for US. And there's a lot that, you know, that could be a full time job on his own. And clearly, we have people to have government relations, so on and so forth. But, but that's, you know, that's your right to operate this your ability to operate as as a business model as a legal entity. And it's important that you really understand what's moving in that environment, and that you have the, you know, the appropriate understanding the appropriate attention, and the approach appropriate activity and working with that, that network of activity that happens both politically, socially. And then you know, from a trade association perspective as well. So I would say those are the big three things that have changed and and I think it's sort of forcing our enterprise leaders to make sure they really understand where they want to prioritize their time.

Matt Waller  29:14  
Boy that, when you see it, so much like with just the attention that's being given to ESG on so many boards, and speaking of which, you know, I didn't mention this earlier. But you also have experience as a board member on a publicly traded company, International Paper, if you are you seeing that as something that is being talked about a lot more?

Anton Vincent  29:44  
Yeah, absolutely. There's no doubt about that. Not only being talked about and clearly companies have always talked about it just has a name now. There has always been activity but also you know, what's what's really escalated, you know, you see this all the time when they investment community started to get serious about it, that forces particularly publicly held companies to, you know, to get very serious about it as well, because what they're saying is, hey, look, if I don't have a really good understanding of this, I am going to make decisions about where I place my capital based on those things. And so I think it's forced, you know, chief executives also forced boards and leadership teams to make sure that A that they have a plan, and we want to plan and it's probably too I mean more important that is well communicated. Because like I said, you know, companies are not coming at this from a standing start, particularly on a sustainability perspective. And so I think that has made almost every publicly held company really ramp up their game, in terms of what that looks like. And I know boards and that our board is really holding leadership accountable, to make sure that we have, you know, an opportunity to sort of push our business model forward in the right way.

Matt Waller  30:48  
So Anton, in closing, do you have any advice for students that might be graduating, whether it be, they be undergraduates or graduate students, they're getting ready to enter the workforce. Or maybe they're even earlier at their time in school but, but they're, what advice might you have?

Anton Vincent  31:09  
Yeah, you know, I have a couple pieces of advice. And, you know, this is probably for the students that are still at school, it's just one of the things that I like what certain schools are doing now in terms of diversifying their majors. You know, I know, when I came to school, I was a finance major undergrad, and I took a lot of finance class, you know, finance and accounting classes, but I just think, you know, really understanding the full value chain of a business is just probably more important today than it has ever been. And so I would say, really take a hard look at those electives. You know, go go, I always tell people go a bit far afield, you know, if you're a finance major, you know, do something in supply chain, do something in operations. Because particular if you make a physical product, look, you will be hand in glove with your manufacturing as a supply chain side of your business. So I would say be diverse in terms of how you are putting your electives together, maybe even be diverse in terms of what types of internships that you might do it, you know, you got it, you got a couple of summers, maybe three summers in college, you know, jump around, you know, if you want to try something here, try something there. And then, you know, you'll find, you know, what you think you have passion for they got to reveal this up, particularly sort of business majors. I think that's one. I think the second thing is just this whole concept of leadership. One of the things I always tell early professionals is leadership, again, is not a title. Right? You separate your functional your domain expertise, from what leadership looks like. And you know how it works. We see leadership and people before they have the title. Like we, yeah, we understand how they process information, how do they build teams? How do they push back? What does the courage level look like, how do they see the future from the present? And so I'd say just make sure you have a really good understanding of what leadership means to you, and start displaying that immediately. I always tell people, you want to be a leader before you get the title. Right. That's That's what leadership is looking for. Because part of my job, and part of people's jobs like me is to determine who's going to be sitting in the seats in the future.

Matt Waller  33:07  
Well, Anton, this has been a really enjoyable and insightful conversation. I know you're extremely busy. So thank you for taking time to visit with me. Very much appreciated.

Anton Vincent  33:20  
Thank you very much. It's been it's been a pleasure.

Matt Waller  33:24  
On behalf of the Sam M. Walton College of Business, I want to thank everyone for spending time with us for another engaging conversation. You can subscribe by going to your favorite podcast service and searching. be epic. Be E P IC.

Matt WallerMatthew A. Waller is the dean of the Sam M. Walton College of Business, Sam M. Walton Leadership Chair and professor of supply chain management. He is also the host for the Be EPIC Podcast for Walton College.


Walton College's EPIC values -- Excellence, Professionalism, Innovation and Collegiality -- are the heart of Dean Waller’s podcast. Since the beginning of the series, Waller has interviewed business professionals, industry experts, CEOs and Walton College students to bring listeners first-hand accounts directly from the entrepreneurial world.


Waller is an SEC Academic Leadership Fellow and coauthor of “The Definitive Guide to Inventory Management: Principles and Strategies for the Efficient Flow of Inventory across the Supply Chain,” published by Pearson Education. He is the former co-editor-in-chief of Journal of Business Logistics. His opinion pieces have appeared in Wall Street Journal Asia and Financial Times.


Waller received an M.S. and Ph.D. from Pennsylvania State University and a B.S.B.A., summa cum laude, from the University of Missouri.

Walton College

Walton College of Business

Since its founding at the University of Arkansas in 1926, the Sam M. Walton College of Business has grown to become the state's premier college of business – as well as a nationally competitive business school. Learn more...

Be Epic Podcast

We're sitting down with innovators and business mavericks to discuss strategy, leadership and entrepreneurship. The Be EPIC Podcast is hosted by Matthew Waller, dean of the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas. Learn more...

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