Getting the global perspective
Keisha Hill, Gleaner Writer
Devon Francis, of Red Stripe Jamaica Limited (Diageo Jamaica), recently returned from a secondment in the Republic of Seychelles, where he worked in the capacity of supply director at the Seychelles Breweries Limited (SBL), a branch of Diageo.
Diageo is a global leader in beverage alcohol with an outstanding collection of brands across spirits, beer and wine categories. With a commitment of valuing each employee and assisting them in delivering the best, each member of staff is given the opportunity to excel.
So, Francis was selected for the secondment based on his overall performance, his potential, and an assessment of the value that he gives to the organisation. "Diageo is a global company operating in 180 markets across every continent. So it is essentially a melting pot that exposes you to different people, cultures and ways of working. The secondment allowed me to utilise a different range of skill sets to perform in various environments, thereby enriching my functional acumen but more so my leadership capabilities," he said.
Diageo is built on the foundations laid by some of the giants of the industry that include Arthur Guinness and Alexander Walker, who believed in and were committed to efficient, sustainable production to the highest quality standards.
"The primary objective of the secondment is the development of the total employee. This means enhancing both functional and leadership skills because, as employees, we are required to operate in an environment that is new and different and where, usually, we know no one," Francis said.
"Employees will then return home after two or three years and be expected to bring the benefits of their learning and development back to the local business," Francis added.
SBL is the maker of Seybrew beer and was inaugurated in 1973. However, in 1993, the company became a branch of Diageo Plc in a friendly majority takeover.
Francis began his secondment in March 2012 as operations director at the brewing company, and three months later, he was appointed to the post of supply chain director with responsibility for the full end-to-end supply operation of planning, sourcing, making and moving products to Diageo's customers.
"As a manufacturing entity, we are about providing our customers and consumers with our products at costs they can afford and with the assurance that they are of the highest standards of quality. Efficient management of our supply chain delivers on both fronts, and the continuous development of our people ensures we meet and exceed these standards continuously," Francis said.
He explained that both companies (Red Stripe Jamaica and SBL) operate similarly, with the exception that SBL, manufactures the Coca-Cola line of carbonated soft drinks. "Essentially, SBL has a brewed and bottling production stream and soft-drink manufacturing stream. Perhaps a significant difference lies in the distribution logistics as SBL's operation spans over four different islands. So, the manufacturing facility is on one island, but distribution is extended to another three," Francis said.
While at SBL, Francis successfully guided the company to the utilisation of the first Flash pasteuriser. This project, which is now being used as a model for other global sites, has brought about a significant reduction in the use of water, energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions. This infrastructural change has also seen the site-packaging efficiency increased by over 40 per cent.
Francis was also responsible for the creation and brewing of two variants of the local lager, Seybrew, in addition to developing and launching of the first Seybrew beer in cans. As a manufacturing plant, health and safety is paramount and as such is a key performance indicator for Diageo. The site, for the first time in its 42-year history, achieved zero lost-time accidents in a financial year.
"We also completed a major plant modernisation project with 77,000 man hours involving 10 different sets of independent contractors with a single first indicant, a record for Diageo. Such achievements contributed to the company winning the Ministry of Labor and Human Resource Development award for 'Best Safe Workplace' in the manufacturing sector," Francis said.