Instances such as these resulted in Zé growing from two squads to 30, with employees increasing from 60 to 300 in 2020.
Naturally, this resulted in a few growing pains. The No. 7 consumer goods company not only wanted to maintain the high bar set for new talent recruitment, but also ensure they’re effectively onboarded into a highly autonomous culture — both of which were unsurprisingly a challenge given such a dramatic hiring curve.
And so with hindsight being 20/20 — an in offering guidance to AU attendees — Roy’s look-back advice would have been to hire a bigger team ahead of the curve to alleviate the common issues accompanied by scaling: “How do you balance … keeping the engine that’s driving the business shiny vs. keeping the entire car moving forward.”
As with many CGs, last-mile costs remain a challenge in maintaining profitability, and so Zé has built dark stores in key locations to reduce reliance upon working with third parties. This in turn enabled it to boost service and lower costs, increasing profitability and scalability.
Zé is expanding to such countries as Brazil, Colombia and Mexico — the latter of which is the next biggest bet, Roy said, thanks to AB InBev’s existing retail footprint. And while it uses learnings from Brazil as it enters new regions, each market is treated as its own venture.
“Success is not guaranteed,” Roy noted. “We still need to test and learn, and see how it’s different from what we’ve learned.”