University Relations 2018 – Week 4 – What ZBB Means to Me (Us)!

UR Canada Zone Blog 3

Our sales and finance functional week of training was an absolute blast that incorporated a field sales training day. We had a full day sales ‘selling’ and ‘negotiation’ training in which we learned skills that can be carried forward throughout our career no matter the function. This training perfectly combined soft skill growth with functional area expertise through training, questioning and exercises.

The week began with playing a full-scale prisoner’s dilemma challenge where we got to test our negotiation skills under stressful situations. We saw each member of the CMT cohorts competitive side, as no one wanted to lose the heated negotiations. This exercise put into perspective the negotiations training later in the day, as we were able to reflect on each skill we were learning with positives and negatives on the ‘ideal’ way to negotiate.

The ‘selling’ training on day two provided a KHC framework for structuring conversations internally and externally to effectively get your proposal accepted. We got to put this framework and methodology into use on Day 3, where we shadowed a sales representative in the field. Going out to the field puts a new perspective on everything we do at head office, and highlights the value our field sales team provides to the organization.

Day 4 was an onslaught of financial terms, and money management concepts led by the finance function. We learned to read P&L statements unique to Kraft Heinz, we learned the intricacies of revenue management and the factors that build in to pricing and promotions, and we wrapped up with a high-level overview of zero based budgeting, a concept born over 40 years ago that has accelerated to the mainstream in recent years thanks to companies like 3G Capital, and Berkshire Hathaway. The concept is one that permeates the culture at Kraft Heinz and fuels the values of meritocracy and ownership that many of us admired in the company. On day 5 we would get to test our understanding of the elusive concept through a case study.

Friday of week 3 brought with it some excitement and too much anxiety as we attempted to navigate the choppy waters of zero based budgeting with limited knowledge. The case was difficult and a worthy challenge. There were many strong attempts, but the key learning was not based around the math or the financial analysis of the concept. The key learning was more about zero based budgeting as a philosophy and principle. Few organizations can sustain year over year cost reductions. In many cases, it’s been proven essentially impossible. However, there are exceptions to that rule and those exceptions use zero based budgeting. In the past the issues with zero based budgeting were around the amount of data required to implement and sustain it. These days the issues centre around the cultural impact of non-stop cost cutting. We learned through our experience that the latter issue is not completely accurate. The savings in cost from zero based budgeting is used to propel growth, meaning it’s reinvested in the most important areas of a company. The concept also considers a company’s strategy and vision, and works towards building the future of an organization. Zero based budgeting doesn’t mean giving people less, it means finding creative, out-of-the-box solutions to drive down costs, while still giving your people the resources they need to do great work. While this may seem simple, it was undoubtedly the most important lesson we learned in week 3.

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