How IT innovation and mobility empower Unilever

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Rod Hefford, CIO for Global Customer Development and Supply Chain at Unilever, discusses they key goals of their Compass strategy, how IT is organized to drive innovation globally

If you're a CIO worried about enabling your company's expansion and success in emerging markets or if you're trying to capitalize on cloud and mobile technologies to improve speed to market and shorten cycle times, you'd do well to make the acquaintance of Rod Hefford. Hefford is CIO for Global Customer Development and Supply Chain at Unilever, the joint British-Dutch company whose 400-plus products are used daily by some 2 billion consumers in nearly 200 countries.

In this installment of the IDG Enterprise CIO Interview Series, Hefford talked to Chief Content Officer John Gallant about how IT at Unilever is organized to drive innovation globally -- leveraging tech talent around the world -- and helping improve execution in local markets from Brazil and India to Europe and the U.S. He also explains how mobility is empowering 'feet on the street' everywhere to respond to changing market conditions and customer needs, and fostering a virtuous cycle of improvement.

Hefford is a member of the CIO Executive Council -- IDG Enterprise's peer-based global community of leading CIOs. For more information on the Council, click here.

Q: Let's start by talking about how Unilever is changing today? What are some of the big corporate initiatives and key goals for the company?

A: The strategy of the company, which is called "Compass", was introduced in 2010 by our CEO, Paul Polman. The Compass is our guide to growth. But we need to grow while making the world a better place -- in a sustainable way. With our portfolio of brands, presence in emerging markets and long-standing commitment to shared value creation that works for everybody - consumers, stakeholders, communities, the company -- we believe we are well placed to deliver on this ambition. This strategy has Unilever doubling in size while reducing our environmental impact by 2020. It's a significant undertaking, but one which seems to have really captured the imagination and has full support within Unilever. In addition, it has really resonated well with many of our key stakeholders. Certainly, I find it a very energizing vision

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