On May 11th, we took the stage at the B for Good Leaders Summit in Amsterdam. I interviewed my coworker Marine Clément and Huhtamaki’s Wouter Kienstra. They shared the transformational journey of this food packaging company. And how Been Management Consulting helped Huhtamaki’s Fiber Technology Center in Leeuwarden take major steps. In case you missed it, here’s what we talked about.
Wouter, when we go back to 2021, what was the biggest challenge for Huhtamaki?
We knew the use of single-use plastic will be banned in the EU. Post covid-19 our clients demand user-friendly alternatives to plastic. We needed to completely transform from a plastic-producing company to sustainable food packaging company. In a very short period of time. You must know that our Fiber Technology Centre in Leeuwarden was specialized in developing products and machines to produce those, including the deployment of these machines at Huhtamaki’s production facilities elsewhere. Our Leeuwarden team was a small sized company, doing one R&D project per year. Due to the high demand for sustainable food packaging we needed to innovate fast. We needed to shift from making incremental improvements, on those egg cartons and machines, to innovating fast. Developing many new fiber-based products and machines at once. This was a complete transformation for us. And we needed to transform fast. We asked Been Management Consulting to for help.
Marine, what was approach of this transformation?
We were asked to help the team to grow and work together successfully. To prepare this organization for the future. The key to this transformation is to look at it as an exciting expedition. We use this model but pick and choose whatever is needed. Based on the needs of the organization. And taking every step together. First, we created a common vision with the team. How can we use our local strengths at the Fiber Technology Centre to contribute to Huhtamaki’s overall strategy of plastic substitution. Next, we looked at the right organization structure for this fast-growing team, including a new management team. We coached the new management team to grow in their new roles as leaders. And to grow as one team. Also, we professionalized the way projects are managed by introducing the stage-gate model, which helps to streamline all these new projects in parallel, delivering them on time and in budget. We involved employees from the start of this transformation. We informed them every step of the way and asked them to come up with new ideas.
Marine and her team forced us to step out our day-to-day hectic environment and asked us the right questions
Wouter Kienstra, Huhtamaki
What has changed for you, Wouter?
When we started, we were a separate R&D and deployment team, consisting of 40 people. Now, we’re operating as one team with 250 professionals with 26 different nationalities. Making a smoother transition from idea to production. Working with a shared vision towards one common goal. Marine and her team forced us to step out of our day-to-day hectic environment and asked the right questions. This helped us tremendously in making a successful transformation. Today, Huhtamaki is now a front-runner in providing sustainable, user-friendly, and competitively priced food packaging.