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Wendy Herrick | VP | Customer Excellence for North America | Unilever

Wendy Herrick: An Excellent Example of “Learn-it-All” Mindset

The trait of substantial business leaders is that they are enthusiastic about learning, growing, and enhancing their skills and abilities in all situations. They always have a learning mindset, and they transform challenges into opportunities with their positive attitude. Such attitude helps them make a significant difference in the business they are leading. Wendy Herrick is one such business leader who is always eager to learn, grow and is substantially contributing to the supply chain industry.

Wendy was recently appointed as the VP of Customer Excellence for North America at Unilever after having 3 successful years as Head of Digital Supply Chain. Wendy has had many life-changing opportunities at Unilever, all of which have played a role in shaping the leader she is today. These opportunities have influenced how she looks at challenges and obstacles. She sees challenges as beautiful opportunities in disguise. She says, “The best way to master your head (thoughts) and your heart (emotions) is through challenging situations that enable you to learn, grow and strengthen your leadership acumen.”

Let’s have a look at her exhilarating journey as a leader.

Having a ‘Learn it All’ Mindset

Wendy had several jobs in high school and college, which were all consumer-facing, so the learning started very early on. She was taught that the customer is always right and learned that being a manager/leader of people was a hard job but also most rewarding. Wendy’s journey as a business leader started right out of college at Unilever International in Bristol, England. Since then, she has had the opportunity to work in both finance and supply chain roles and live in many different countries across the globe. She believes in evolving from having a ‘know it all’ mindset to ‘learn it all’ mindset.

Making the World a Better Place for Future Generations

As one of the world’s largest consumer goods companies, Unilever is driven by its purpose to make sustainable living commonplace, with an ambition to be the global leader in sustainable business, showing that our purpose-led, future-fit business model delivers superior performance.. This is engrained in Unilever’s culture and expressed through its 400 brands that touch the lives of over 2.5 billion consumers every day.

Unilever aims to be a force for good – for people and the planet – and invites others to join it in making the world a better place for future generations to come. In its Climate Transition Action Plan it has outlined how it will achieve its commitment to zero emissions from its operations by 2030. Additionally, via its Climate Promise, it has invited suppliers to demonstrate their shared values and commitment to reducing their greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint as Unilever works to achieve its stretching goal of net-zero emissions across its value chain by 2039.

Leading with Self-awareness

Wendy has lived and worked in many countries across the globe and taken on many stretching leadership roles. This has taught her the importance of being self-aware and motivating, inspiring, and leading the company’s most valuable asset – its people. She believes this continuous learning and development of self, coupled with a servant leadership style, has enabled her to make an impact across the business.

Being a Purpose-Driven Company

Wendy proudly mentions that Unilever’s values of integrity, respect, responsibility, and pioneering are the simplest statement of who they all are at Unilever. These shared values live in everything Unilever does.

As Wendy mentioned earlier, Unilever is a purpose-driven company. Purpose starts at the top with Alan Jope and permeates throughout the organization. Every employee has a personal purpose statement that guides them on their work/life journey. Wendy’s purpose “to inspire people to live, love, laugh and leave a legacy” has guided her throughout her career.

Making Sustainable Living Commonplace

Unilever’s supply chain is at the heart of the business of making sustainable living commonplace, which fits well with Wendy’s personal purpose. Imagine being a part of this headline “Unilever changes the negative trajectory of our climate crisis – The world is safe for generations to come.” That’s a legacy Wendy wants to be part of!

Responding to Consumer Demands Sustainably and Cost-Effectively

Wendy has experienced first hand how in today’s world consumers have become accustomed to receiving any desired good within a few days, or even hours. Supply chains are having to reinvent themselves. Unilever is working towards “making today what it sold yesterday”, in order to be able to respond to customer and consumer demands in the most sustainable and cost-effective way.

The disruption the global pandemic brought confirmed Unilever’s belief that agility is critical. Mark Engel, Unilever’s Chief Supply Chain officer, has driven strategies where “Agility trumps forecasting’’.

Unilever has also had to make some key investments to enable end to end synchronization through digital transformation programs. Through its Digital Twins, it drives cognitive automation, leading to smarter, faster decisions. And of course, the company must invest in its most important asset, its people, by upskilling its talent and building digital fluency across the organization.

Unilever is consistently improving its Supply Chain agility to build capacity intelligently in its eco-system and focus on changing consumer needs and channel shifts. Finally, Unilever must ensure it nurtures an eco-system of partners so that it innovates and builds resilient solutions to win in the marketplace and achieve its vision of making sustainable living commonplace.

Most Succinct Advice to Aspirant Entrepreneurs in Supply Chain

In conclusion, Wendy imparts some excellent pieces of advice to emerging entrepreneurs:

  • Supply Chain sits at the heart of the business – the place to be
  • Approach everything you do with Passion and
  • Understand the shadow you cast—Self Awareness.
  • Embrace Diversity and Value Inclusion.
  • Seize Opportunities that help you achieve your life’s

– Above all, always hold true to your Core Values.