Mar 23, 2021

Prince Harry joins North America’s executive C-suite

PrinceHarry
BetterUp
mentalhealth
Technology
Kate Birch
3 min
As Prince Harry secures his first executive role, as Chief Impact Officer of mental health startup BetterUp, we deliver the lowdown on this HR tech unicorn
As Prince Harry secures his first executive role, as Chief Impact Officer of mental health startup BetterUp, we deliver the lowdown on this HR tech unic...

Prince Harry has secured his first C-suite role, having been appointed as Chief Impact Officer of Silicon Valley health startup BetterUp Inc, a coaching and mental health firm that recently achieved unicorn status, making it the latest HR tech unicorn.  

This marks Harry’s latest foray into the business world following the Duke’s decision to step back from royal duty and lead a life as a financially independent royal. He and his wife Meghan have already landed deals with Spotify and Netflix. 

In this brand-new role, Harry is expected to help BetterUp with initiatives including product strategy and charitable contributions as well as advocating publicly on mental health issues. 

This is an unusual move in business, because while celebrities are often used by companies to boost their brands, they are usually appointed to the board rather than to an executive level role. Better Up CEO Alex Robichaux explained that the company had chosen the role of Chief Impact Officer for Harry as it best reflected the variety of responsibilities he would be undertaking. 

Prince Harry no stranger to working in mental health

Of course, Prince Harry is no stranger to working in the area of mental health or talking about it, having been vocal about his own experiences, talked openly about his mother’s mental health suffering, and more recently supported his wife Meghan, the Duchess of Success, in her public declaration of suffering with mental health. 

He’s also long supported mental health charities. In 2016, along with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Harry led a UK nationwide campaign, Heads Together, involving a number of charities to end stigma around mental health. And just this month, the Duke announced that his and Megan’s Archewell Foundation, an impact-driven non-profit designed to uplift and unite communities, would support UK mental health charity Mind.  

Harry has also been involved with product strategy having initiated the highly successful Invictus Games Foundation, an international adaptive multi-sport event for wounded and sick armed services personnel, which he launched back in back in 2014 and for which he has remained a private patron. 

So what's the deal with BetterUp?

Co-founded in 2013 by leadership and development innovator, Alexi Robichaux (CEO), and ex Bain & Company consultant Eduardo Medina (COO), BetterUp is a global leader in mobile-based coaching, counselling and mentorship, boasting an all-in-one platform that combines behavioural science, Ai technology, and human interaction to optimise personal growth and professional development in support of a person’s whole health, at work and in life.

Since its founding the Silicon Valley startup has built the world’s largest coaching network of over 2,000 coaches, and has grown to a team of more than 270 employees, serving over 300 enterprise businesses including Hilton, Google, Mars, NASA, Chevron, Warner Media and Airbnb, and has served over 100k000 members to date

In the past year, the company has more than doubled its annual recurring revenue, grown its customer base by 80%, recorded a net revenue retention reate of over 140%, and seen its number of coaching sessions more than double YOY. 

Last month, the company raised US$125 million in a Series D funding round, valuing the company at US$1.73 billion, and investors in BetterUp have included Tesla, SpaceX, Snap, Mulesoft, Social + Capital and Lightspeed Ventures.

BetterUp is using the funding to accelerate its innovation roadmap and continue to fuel new products, the latest o fwhich is BetterUp Care, an integrated metnal fitness offering that includes enterprise-wide access to coaching with behavioural health specialists, curated content, on-demand support, parenting spciealists, nutrition specialists, sleep specialists, group coaching, and digital learning. 

According to Robichaux, “by investing in their employees’ growth, our customers have seen measurable bheaviour change in their cultures and signficiant outcomes across their businesses”. 

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Jun 6, 2021

Business Chief Legend: Former PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi

PepsiCo
businesslegend
Leadership
CEO
Kate Birch
4 min
As the first and only female CEO of PepsiCo, Indra Nooyi smashed corporate America’s glass ceiling and transformed the performance and purpose of PepsiCo

At a recent Asia Pacific-focused event, organised by P&G and UN Women, the former CEO of PepsiCo, Indra Nooyi, shared why enabling a diverse and inclusive workforce can directly impact the bottom line.

“If 80% of our products are bought by women because they were the gatekeepers at home, or make all the purchases, why don’t we have a large number of women represented in our ranks,” she told a virtual global crowd of thousands. 

Such business advice may seem rather obvious today, but in 2006, when Nooyi put this business philosophy into practice at PepsiCo, it was both pioneering and progressive. Because not only did the performance of PepsiCo transform under Nooyi’s 12-year tenure as CEO, but so did its purpose and people, with Nooyi widely praised for transforming the firm’s diversity and inclusion agenda.

And who better to do so than someone who had herself smashed the corporate American glass ceiling. Because, when Nooyi became CEO in 2006, following 12 years as Chief Strategist, not only was she among just a handful of female CEOs leading Fortune 500 firms, and one of very few foreign-born executives, she was both the first female CEO to lead PepsiCo, and the first person of colour. Not to mention also being a wife and mother.

Proving performance and purpose can co-exist

And she more than got the job done, growing PepsiCo revenues by 80%, making the firm more global than it had ever been, so that by the time she stepped down in 2018, nearly 20% of net revenues came from MENA, Asia and Latin America, and expanding the business significantly with key acquisitions (Tropicana) and mergers (Quaker Oats).

But it was Nooyi’s strategic redirection of PepsiCo, transforming both its purpose and people, that really made an impact. As chief architect of PepsiCo’s pledge, Performance with Purpose, unveiled in 2006 and a precursor to the modern sustainability movement, Nooyi repositioned the firm to focus on what is best for the world and for its people, from sustainability and social responsibility to diversity and diet.

She transformed the firm’s D&I agenda, created a culture where workers were encouraged to stay with the company, moved corporate spending away from junk food and into healthier alternatives, redesigned packaging to reduce waste, and switched to renewable energy sources and recycling.

As she told Forbes in 2017, “I wanted to make sure that PepsiCo was not only delivering top-tier financial returns but doing so in a way that was responsive to the needs of the world around us.”

Indra Nooyi talking with US President Biden (then Vice President) in 2014

Smashing corporate America's glass ceiling

And it was this ability to realise a world in which business is both practiced and recognised as a force for good that has earned Nooyi a place in CEO history books and landed her numerous accolades, including 11 honorary degrees, the Hero of Conscious Capitalism award at 2017’s CEO Summit, consistent inclusion in the world’s 100 most powerful women (including #1 by Forbes in 2009/10) and most recently, induction into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

Not bad for a girl from Chennai, India, who was expected to lead a conventional life as a wife and mother, but by her own admission was a bit of a “rebel”, with a passion for playing cricket and lead guitarist in a band. In the late 70s, she relocated to the US, earning herself a Master’s in management from Yale, and beginning a four decade-long strategy-focused career that was born at BCG in 1980 where she spent six years and ended in 2018 following 24 impactful years at PepsiCo.

And while she has now retired from corporate life, Nooyi continues to wield the influence that so positively changed the direction of one of the world’s largest companies. As well as serving on the board for ecommerce giant Amazon, she speaks at summits close to her heart, and has recently penned her memoir, advising corporates on better integrating work and family.

And while she has now retired from corporate life, Nooyi continues to wield the influence that so positively changed the direction of one of the world’s largest companies. As well as serving on the board for ecommerce giant Amazon, she speaks at summits close to her heart, and has recently penned her memoir, advising corporates on better integrating work and family. 

Indra Nooyi's memoir will be available from September 28, 2021, and can be pre-ordered. 

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