General Mills Knocks Amazon Out of 'Most Reputable Company' Spot
Reputation Institute has rounded up the 2012 edition of its annual US RepTrak Pulse—a study that examines the country’s 150 largest public companies and measures their performance in key areas of corporate reputation. RepTrak aims to illuminate the ways the public’s perception of big business can influence marketplace behavior, but it is also meant to serve as a benchmark for corporate reputation management.
Last year, the web ruled the RepTrak results. Amazon snagged the top spot in the US and Google was crowned the global leader. But in 2012, the food and beverage and consumer product industries have carved out a more dominant presence. General Mills came out on top, ranking number one in the overall study and scoring strongest in what Reputation Institute considers key drivers of reputation: products and services, governance, leadership and citizenship.
That’s quite a feat for a company that didn’t even rank in the study’s top ten in 2010 or 2011.
“We value our corporate reputation tremendously and work hard every day to foster and honor the trust of our stakeholders,” said General Mills Chairman and CEO Ken Powell. “For us, building this trust includes delivering nutrition and value to consumers through innovation, strong community engagement, a commitment to protecting the environment, as well as developing strong leaders to grow our business around the world. We believe consumers reward companies that operate with integrity and stay focused on doing what is right over the long-term.”
The rest of the US RepTrak Top Ten was rounded out by other grocery store favorites. Kraft came in at number two, Johnson & Johnson was number three, Kelloggs was number four and Coca Cola edged out Pepsi (number nine) with the number seven spot. Amazon slipped to number five, followed closely by fellow tech giant Apple at number eight. Notably, Procter & Gamble jumped from number 21 last year to number ten in 2012.
Here are some 2012 U.S. RepTrak Pulse study highlights, via Reputation Institute:
• Consumer products remains the highest ranked industry (72.24), while Tobacco is still the weakest industry (44.6)
• The top three drivers of corporate reputation with the U.S. general public remain Products & Services (17.5%), Governance (15.6%), and Citizenship (14.2%). These drivers have stayed consistent for the last 5 years.
• The top individual companies by reputation dimension include Amazon.com, Apple, and General Mills. Amazon.com wins in both Products & Services and Governance (for the 2nd year in a row). Apple places first in Innovation (now three years running), Leadership, Performance, and Workplace, while overall #1 General Mills places first in Citizenship and placed in the top 10 across all 7 dimensions.
• While nine in ten companies (91%) saw their scores stay the same or drop, a handful of companies did show significant improvements in their Pulse scores. These companies were largely viewed by the public as turning in strong financial performances while doubling down on successful citizenship efforts. The biggest movers included AIG (+16), General Mills (+6), ExxonMobil (+7) and Abbott Labs (+6).
• The biggest drops in reputation in 2012 include Time Warner (-10 points), Bank of America (-10 points), and AMR (-9 points), Altria (-9 points), and UAL (-9 points).
After crunching the numbers and looking over the results, Reputation Institute offers some advice to the business world.
“The best corporate reputations of the next decade will not be built by accident or through products alone,” says Anthony Johndrow, Managing Partner of Reputation Institute. “Companies who both have and are able to tell a differentiated, enterprise-wide story that translates into employee ambassadorship and earns marketplace support from external audiences are the emerging leaders of the Reputation Economy.”
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.