Mondelez CEO Says He’s Hungry for Fresh Ideas at the Food Giant
The maker of Oreos, Chips Ahoy, Ritz crackers, and Trident chewing gum, is moving its headquarters to Chicago. Mondelez International (MDLZ), now based in the Illinois suburb of Deerfield, will be setting up shop in a bustling part of town which has become a hub of swanky hotels, restaurants, office space and condos.
The announcement is the latest change coming from Mondelez CEO Dirk Van de Put. Ever since he took the helm a year ago, he has been trying to reinvent the $26 billion food giant and to create new consumer enthusiasm for the company’s pantry of famous snacking brands. So it’s no wonder that Van de Put is attracted to this up-and-coming neighborhood that has a millennial vibe.
“My style, I believe, is very authentic. Down to earth. Casual. Say it like it is. Be real,” says Van de Put. “I find in Corporate America that’s different and refreshing.”
And Van de Put is different compared to most of the CEOs on the Fortune 500. Born in Belgian, he speaks six languages and has a degree in veterinary medicine. He has worked for Mars candy, Coca-Cola, French yogurt maker Danone, and Novartis, the pharmaceutical company. His last stop before joining Mondelez was Canada’s McCain Foods where he was CEO for six years.
Speaking with Fortune, Van de Put says he is trying to create a “culture of questioning” so Mondelez’s 100,000 employees feel comfortable to experiment with new ideas.
“I need to take away any barriers so they can move fast. I need to take away blaming or fear of failure or not accepting being different,” he says. “But then it’s up to the people when they have that freedom to really go and do something with it.”
Watch the video above for more from my interview with Van de Put.