Irene Rosenfeld hopes Mondelez International can create delicious moments of joy

Staying in touch

From the outside, it seems like it would be a nearly impossible task to manage 100,000 employees. And while Rosenfeld has a proven track record of effective leadership and is regularly named one of the most influential leaders in the world, she agrees that managing that many people is impossible.

“The fact is I can’t manage 100,000 employees,” Rosenfeld says. “What I can do is inspire as many of the leaders of the company, then, in turn, to inspire their teams. It’s a cascading process.

“The single biggest role I play is in communication and talking about where we are going, why we are going there and what it is I need the organization to do. Then I really need the leaders to grab that and translate that mess into what it means for their folks on the ground.”

Rosenfeld spends about two-thirds of her time on the road meeting with employees and assessing whether they have what they need to succeed.

“I spend an enormous amount of time thinking about talent,” Rosenfeld says. “I look at our key roles, and I want to make sure they are operated by our top talent and that we have good career paths for those individuals as well as good succession plans behind them.”

The name change from Kraft to Mondelez has required a restating of what it means to work for this new organization.

“A lot of the work we’re doing right now is creating an employee value proposition and being explicit about what Mondelez can offer you as the prospective employee that you might not get elsewhere,” Rosenfeld says.

Empowering women to grow and succeed is another area of focus for Rosenfeld. Half of her management team is female and a third of her board is women.

“For many companies, they can legitimately say they have no one in the pipeline because they didn’t focus on that,” Rosenfeld says. “It’s a multilayered process, and it has to be a commitment from the top. I’m very proud of the progress we’ve made and we continue to talk with peers about what sort of actions we’ve taken that have contributed to our success.”

If you ask Rosenfeld for advice on how to succeed in life and in work, she says to just be yourself.

“If you’re not comfortable in the environment that you’re in, get out of it and do something else,” Rosenfeld says. “We all work too hard at what we do to not be comfortable and to feel like we have to be somebody that we’re not.”