CEOx1Day: Two University of Waterloo students reflect on their experience

Reflections from Annu Puri and Ria Bharadwaj on their experiences at Molson Coors and Kellogg's

Annu Puri and Ria Bharadwaj were two of 18 students across Canada who were selected for the unique opportunity to gain an in-depth look at what it takes to lead a major organization.

The CEOx1Day program is designed to uncover and develop Canada’s future leaders, matching students with top CEOs from a diverse set of industries for a memorable day of mentorship and learning.

Read more about their experiences below!

Annu Puri: Matched with Frederic Landtmeters, Molson Coors Canada

Molson Coors CEO Fred Landtmeters & Uwaterloo Annu Puri

University of Waterloo student, Annu Puri and Molson Coors Canada CEO Fred Landtmeters

A process spanning four months since its commencement in October 2017 finally culminated with a day that I will vividly remember for years to come. On February 14, 2018, I had the utmost privilege of shadowing Frederic Landtmeters, CEO of Molson Coors Canada. After being informed about the opportunity, hundreds of thoughts raced through my head regarding my day; however, nothing could have prepared me for the experience I had.

Following a rigorous selection process which included an online leadership assessment, phone interviews as well as a series of 5-minute speed interviews, I was eager to meet Fred and his team. From the moment I entered, I was greeted with unparalleled energy and smiles all around the office.

My agenda for the day was jam-packed and consisted of various meetings with key personnel from the organization, a Q4 earnings call with the global leadership team and external stakeholders, an eye-opening brewery tour, and a town hall meeting for all Toronto employees.

Later, I had a chance to sit down with Fred and have 1-on-1 time discussion about his path to success as well as tips he had for aspiring business leaders. As a 44-year old CEO, Fred has accomplished many feats and led teams across the globe. Chatting with him taught me three lessons that I hope to apply as I embark on my career in the world of business.

1. Resourcefulness and trustfulness is extremely important

Prior to my day with Fred, I had known that CEOs were incredibly intelligent due to their numerous years of technical experience. After meeting Fred, one thing I was amazed at was how frequently he acknowledged and empowered his team which were instrumental in the organization’s success. Fred referred to his role as a “people” role where he was aware of his strengths and had full confidence in his team to mitigate any of his weaknesses.

2. No matter how busy you are, you can always make time

My expectation going into the day was that a CEO is always short on time with a tight schedule. After the day, however, I was in awe of Fred’s ability to build relationships with employees through simple actions such as greeting his peers and always having a warm smile on his face. Fred winds down after work by spending time with his family and catching the Leafs game whenever he can; he makes time for the people he loves and gives them his undivided attention.

3. There is no substitute for hard work

This is the statement which left me motivated following an eventful day. As simple as it sounds, pushing forward and striving for improvement despite facing challenges is what leads to greatness. For Fred, he has yet to wake up not wanting to be at work – he loves his role and the challenges that arise from it.

My day with Fred was inspiring beyond words; I hope to use everything I learned to pursue my passions in the classroom and my future workplace(s).

Ria Bharadwaj: Matched with Carol Stewart, Kellogg Canada

Ria Bharadwaj from University of Waterloo with Carol Stewart, CEO of Kellogg Canada

University of Waterloo student, Ria Bharadwaj with Carol Stewart, CEO of Kellogg Canada

Before attending this event, I had spoken to a few individuals who had successfully completed this program, and I was expecting to have an experience where I would have the opportunity to see a CEO in action. I was expecting to see a leader in action, his/her leadership style and what it takes to be a successful leader. 

My learning outcome from this experience was all about teamwork.

I was able to see a business as a whole, and not only the perspective of one unit or a department, but rather a team working towards fulfilling a mission. I also noted the importance of having a culture that emphasizes teamwork, and how working together helps achieve objectives and goals.

I also had the opportunity to spend time with Carol Stewart, President and CEO, Kellogg Canada throughout the day, where I experienced her leadership style firsthand. I witnessed her interactions with her employees as well as her very friendly and easygoing approach. I really admire her and hope to be a leader like Carol in the future. 

My experience was beyond what I had expected.

Not only did I have the chance to spend a day with the President of Kellogg Canada, but I was also immersed in a culture that was very welcoming. The team made me feel very comfortable and allowed me to learn while allowing me to be in my comfort zone. Everyone I interacted with at the office gave me different insights into the business, made me feel comfortable and taught me about topics that I would have not been able to learn about without this experience. This was one of those experiences that can’t be taught on paper, one has to experience it to learn it.

This experience influences how I see teams and broader businesses. My main takeaway is that a leader is not only there to provide a vision but is there to help rally the team in achieving the common vision, by inspiring and coaching others, and making tough decisions. The leader is there to align the team on one path, and to work with each other to accomplish a goal.

This will definitely change how I see leadership roles. Leadership goes beyond making decisions. It means taking the time to develop good working relationships, understanding your teammates and supporting your team. Ultimately, a leader and a team both need each other to be successful. I see leaders differently now because I can see the importance of working together as a team to achieve a company goal. Whenever I take on a leadership role, I will be mindful of this learning, and try my best to be the best leader I can by supporting my team.  

Originally published at the University of Waterloo School of Accounting and Finance News