CEO Speaks, Carrefour on Growth

A few weeks ago I went with friends of mine to this event. It’s a routine event at BINUS BUSINESS SCHOOL called CEO Speaks. In this event you can get real insight from CEOs from some of the big and prominent companies in Indonesia. Not theriotically, but based on real case. Something you don’t get to see every day, huh? Not to mention it’s also free 🙂

Actually I already knew about this event for a long time ago, but didn’t get the chance to attend it before. My regrets if all the CEO speaks was this good. Hoping to attend the next one 🙂

So, this time it’s Carrefour’s turn to get into the spot light with their new CEO, Shafie Shamsuddin. At first, I thought he was Indonesian, but he said he was Singaporean Malayan at the beginning of the session. Previously Mr. Shamsuddin had worked at Carrefour in Malaysia and Singapore too. He told us, that before, Carrefour top management was always filled with fellow French and it was impossible for Asian like him to enter the ring, until now. A recap on his background taken from Businessweek:

Shafie Shamsuddin serves as Managing Director at Carrefour Indonesia. Mr. Shamsuddin served as Managing Director of Carrefour Singapore and Carrefour Malaysia. He has been serving Carrefour for over 10 years and was appointed Regional Director for Carrefour Singapore in February 2005. He began his career as a management trainee in 1996 and was then promoted to assistant department head in July 1997 and department head in October 1997, where he was responsible for overseeing merchandising in and operations of the bazaar department. In April 2000, Shafie was promoted to division manager for the bazaar department and was accountable for the overall performance of six major sub-units in the bazaar department. In June 2002, Shafie was transferred to Carrefour Indonesia where he was in charge of bazaar merchandising at the national level.

I’m a frequent customer at Carrefour, but all I know about Carrefour as a company that it was originally from France, a market leader in Indonesia hypermarket, and is going through quite a lot of legal cases with it’s customers (dispute and all), competitors (you know who), and even the government (hence the monopoly issue). Still, I find it nice to shop there, even though I think the “earlier carrefour” offers more  than it is today. It must be quite a challenge to be the CEO.

Given the current circumstances, it will be interesting to know how he dealt with the situation. He told us that his first moves can be summarized to these:

  1. Learn and listen
    As a newcomer, he was trying to adapt and understand the real condition by listening internally and externally, from his subordinates, staffs, suppliers, customers, and other shareholders. To really get a grip of what was happening.
  2. Accept yourself
    Then, he was reflecting on the all those bad news and rumors about Carrefour to see if it was true and what caused it.
  3. Making it right
    After that, he came up with ways on how to make things right again. Like the issue about how Carrefour’s buyers accused of treating its suppliers arbitrarily by keeping prices down and collecting various burdensome fees. He then installed CCTV cameras on all the meeting rooms to make sure a thing like that will never happen.

More from the CEO

CEO Speaks, Carrefour on Growth
CEO Speaks, Carrefour on Growth
  1. You should form the team before making the strategy, not the other way around. Strategy will only works if it’s executed correctly. So, you must have the right people to do it.
  2. Retail is about sell, buy, then sell. You have to think what and how to sell (customer’s trend), buy it (at lowest price and good quality), and sell it (at lowest price, but high volume, I guess? Since it’s hypermarket we are talking about). Usually, people think it is about buy and sell.
  3. Treat the change agents as role models and give them certain KPIs.
  4. In the QA session, a former employee asked if the culture at Carrefour still remains the same. That employees didn’t get much chance to develop themselves. He said things had changed now.
    Carrefour currently identifying their change agents (prospective employees) and treat them as role models by giving them certain KPIs. As an example even if you are a cashier, if you are the best, you might end up traveling overseas to share your skills to others. He then joked by asking the former employee to come back and work at Carrefour again.
  5. Touch your closest ones then enlarge it.
    You really don’t have to do something very spectacular to begin with. You can start by your closest and make it big. Pretty much like like the butterfly effect concept.
  6. It’s challenge that makes us progressed and know who we are. That way you will grow and know yourself.
    This one speaks for itself. We all have experienced it a lot. It’s just like going through exams in order to graduate.

A leak was also accidentally slipped. You can expect to see Carrefour change its tag line in near future. The tag line, Ke Carrefour aja Ah…!  will be replaced by something that depict how Carrefour give you an added value to your life. Just like he stated that a tag line should describe a bigger purpose of the company and of course the current tag line not much of a help on doing it.

Updates on Carrefour

After a surprising action of bringing one of Indonesia’s taipan, Chairul Tanjung owner of Trans Corp as one of their biggest stock holders, Carrefour is still on the move. Recently they announced that they were going to stop operating at three countries in Asia, which are Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore. Guess, they only interested in market where they can be the market leader, like in China and Indonesia. Meaning despite all that has happened, we still got to see Carrefour in Indonesia for many years to come.

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