Navigating continuous improvement at Unibake
Gianni, with a background in engineering and managerial roles, reflects on his career journey within Unibake. His experiences underscore the importance of technical expertise, continuous improvement, and teamwork in navigating global operations. Gianni's insights offer valuable advice for aspiring engineers in Unibake's graduate program aiming for success in supply chain management.
Q: Can you share key milestones and experiences from your current career journey within Unibake?
I have a Master's in engineering (BE-Ghent University /2005)) and in 2012 I joined Unibake as a technical manager in our French Pastry bakery in Mouscron. This role marked the beginning of a transformative journey for me. As part of the job, I managed a skilled technical team. It opened the doors to my passion for continuous improvement.
My next role as a global operations excellence manager position at Unibake’s head office stretched my vision from a local business setup to a supporting role in a global setting and was a real gamechanger for my personal and professional development. I was stretched because I moved from a local environment to a big group set-up with a long-term supporting approach.
My engineering background and analytical mindset helped me a lot in understanding that the problems you encounter are quite similar despite differences in cultures, locations, and local businesses.
Covid led me back to our French Pastry bakery in Mouscron to systematically support the operations team in restoring supply and stabilizing the organization. We have invested a lot of training and support in the team since then and made a real success of our operations excellence and we have seen great results and growth in satisfaction. It always makes me smile when I look at what we have accomplished together.
The position as operations director felt as a very natural next step for me, so I was happy to be warmly welcomed by everybody. As we speak, we are heavily investing in building on Unibake’s fundamentals – competences, transparency, and leadership to let people grow and excel.
Q: In your opinion, what specific skills and technical competencies have been most valuable for you in your advancing to your current position and how did you develop and leverage them in your career progression?
The ability to analyze and synthesize processes, pinpoint core issues, and work systematically has been crucial for my career path. The technical and process roles where I have had to deal with complex situations have indirectly strengthened these competencies.
The key to my progress has been to maintain an open mind, look at the entire picture and understand and synthesize processes to their essence. It’s a drive to improve processes that aligns closely with Unibake’s company values of openness, a holistic view, and drive.
Q: Can you shed light on the collaborative aspects of your role and how teamwork with professionals from diverse backgrounds in Unibake have contributed to your success here?
All the roles I’ve had during my current work life have required teamwork across diverse backgrounds. I’ve learned that strong teams built on skilled professionals from various cultures and disciplines have the power to increase our productivity and performance. I’ve gained insights into multiple facets of the entire value chain, and it’s given me and the teams I’ve worked with a holistic approach to improvement and problem-solving.
Q: What advice would you give to young people with an engineering background entering Unibake’s graduate program and aiming for a career in our supply chain?
For young engineers entering Unibake's global graduate program and aspiring to build a career in the supply chain, I would emphasize the importance of embracing challenges as learning opportunities. Actively
seek out cross-functional experiences, volunteer for projects that stretch your capabilities, and establish a strong network within the organization. A curious mindset and a commitment to continuous improvement will set the foundation for a successful career.
Q: In your view, what can significantly impact young people’s trajectory within Unibake?
Unibake is leading in many aspects within the bakery industry, but there’s still a technology gap when we benchmark ourselves to very advanced industries. Rather than perceiving this as a downside, it presents an exciting opportunity to be a forward-thinker with a can-do mindset. Active participation in company events, building strong networks with professionals from various departments across the global organization, and seeking mentorship from experienced colleagues are all crucial strategies for success.
Foster a growth mindset, view setbacks as opportunities to learn and improve, and strive to understand the broader context of the supply chain. This knowledge will not only enhance your decision-making skills but also position you as a valuable resource within Unibake. We are a healthy organization improving, investing and growing with a high speed. It creates a multitude of opportunities for everyone that wants to take responsibility and develop.