Our CEO Is The Consumer – Briano Olivares

Marie-Claire Grima - 1st October 2018

“Our CEO is the consumer,” said Briano Olivares, Head of R&D at Ferrero. “If what we are offering them doesn’t work, then we are over.”

Speaking at the Malta Chamber’s A Family Affair conference, Mr Olivares, who holds one of the most senior positions in the company behind household names such as Nutella, Kinder, and Ferrero Rocher, explained how “a very small Italian company” became the third-largest chocolate producer in the world – through “passion, sacrifice, perseverance, and quality above all else.” He said that Ferrero’s family values were encapsulated in the word Ferrerita – “respect for the product, respect for the consumer, and a great sense of belonging.”

Mr Olivares said that these values had been instilled in every single one of Ferrero’s workers. “We are a very large family, very loyal. We have a very low turnover rate – we still have people working with us who started 50 years ago. In fact, we have to push our people into pension when they are 80!”

Turning to the question “What is product”, Mr Olivares said that it was a combination of different things – recipes, economics, insight, technology, key visuals, packaging and quality. “But we are not just selling products – we are dealing with relationships and emotions.”

He recounted some of his memories of Michele Ferrero, the ultra-driven entrepreneur, who formed part of the second-generation of the Ferrero family, and who was instrumental in turning the company into an international sweets giant. “He would always say the time for celebrating was just two seconds – then it would be time to go back to work.”

“Once he stopped me in front of the plant in Alba, just to look at the people coming out. He told me, ‘Briano, don’t try to come up with better ideas for me to become richer – I’m already the richest man in Italy. Don’t do it to make people think you are smart – I hired you, so I know you are. Do it for those families. Look at those people – they are very tired, but they are very happy – they know they have a clear vision of their future.’ My life changed that night.”

Mr Olivares also addressed Ferrero’s unique relationship with Malta. “Malta is a very crucial country for us because of its location. It’s a very important and unique country for us to test our product – we try it out in Malta before launching it out in the world for the past 50 years.”

Sharing his vision for Ferrero in the next decade, Mr Olivares affirmed that this was always the same for the company – “long-term vision, unique and distinctive products, and quality above all else.”

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