Eight brands worth over a billion dollars each. Not many corporations can boast of such success, but Kraft Heinz Company can. It has more than 200 well-known brands in twenty-nine countries. It formed in 2015 when Kraft Foods and Heinz merged, and has become the third largest food and beverage company in North America. It ranks fifth worldwide with such brands as Oscar Mayer, Planters, Kool-Aid, Capri Sun, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, Philadelphia, and Maxwell House. With such a commanding presence in the Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) world, it is no wonder students take notice when Kraft Heinz is in the room.
Lindsey Wagaman is a summer business development intern at Kraft Heinz Company with a double-major in marketing and supply chain management. She plans to graduate from the Sam M. Walton College of Business in May of 2020 and chose to intern with Kraft Heinz for the opportunities she saw there. “My first encounter with Kraft Heinz was at the Walton College fall business career fair,” said Wagaman. They had a booth at the fall fair to begin their annual summer intern recruitment. “I initially walked over to their table because I grew up on Kraft Heinz products, but after talking to KH representatives, I knew their internship program was the direction I wanted to start my career. The reps I talked to were passionate and engaging, and I could tell they really enjoyed working at Kraft Heinz.”
Their culture of ownership and meritocracy spoke to her so she pursued the business development internship she now holds. In her short time there, she has begun learning the art and science of pulling data to craft a story. Her internship is teaching her Retail Link, Excel and other business programs that will help her analyze industry and consumer trends, and how to utilize data analytics to create competitive market analyses. She appreciates the engaging, dynamic challenges working there has presented her, but her favorite things about the internship are probably the supportive and educational environment.
It is a sentiment echoed by others at Kraft Heinz. Ivy Jeong, a customer sales analyst, said she feels the company culture is both supportive and respectful. A 2017 marketing graduate of the Sam M. Walton College of business, she first encountered the Kraft Heinz vibe during Dr. Molly Rapert’s marketing class in Jeong’s last semester of college. “We had three guest speakers from the Kraft Heinz sales team assign the class on how to grow their barbeque sauce, cottage cheese, and water enhancer businesses,” said Jeong. “It was eye-opening to learn that a company as large as Kraft Heinz took time to listen to students’ opinions and even gave positive feedback along with constructive criticism.” Now a full-time employee building her critical analytical skills at Kraft Heinz, she appreciates the freedom to cultivate her own career there. She believes the opportunities are limitless and enjoys the encouragement Kraft Heinz gives its employees to own their learning journeys.
That is no surprise given that Kraft Heinz Company places high value on people and performance. In fact, this metrics-driven company prefers to call its human resources department People & Performance. John Kelly, senior People & Performance manager supporting Walmart and Kroger, has been with the company almost three years. He is a transplant from Michigan who moved to Arkansas while working in another industry, but it did not take him long after moving here to notice the talent development opportunities within the CPG industry. His position with Kraft Heinz is focused 100% on the positive development and growth of their employees. Everything Kelly does is aimed at attracting and retaining top talent through employee engagement, which leads to the kind of professional growth and development that helps keep Kraft Heinz strong.
While engaging and encouraging employees in the workplace is vital to the Kraft Heinz success story, their involvement in universities is also essential. Kelly and the Kraft Heinz Company participate in University of Arkansas’ Employer Advisory Board, where he and representatives of other companies see first-hand how Walton College prepares undergraduates for CPG careers. In addition to the Advisory Board, Kraft Heinz has also sponsored the Social Innovation Challenge at the Brewer Family Entrepreneurship Hub located on Mountain Street in Fayetteville. They chose this event to demonstrate their commitment to corporate social responsibility and to have a positive impact on the local community in which their employees are engaged. Add to that their involvement with the Enactus Team, sponsorship of both Walton Career Services and the Supply Chain Management Center, student mentoring through Dr. Rogelio Contreras’ social business enterprise class, and involvement with the Walmart sales competition, and you have a company that shows commitment to ownership, community, and relationships through employee and student engagement. Learn more about them at the career fair this fall.