Glanbia Culture & Values

How One Global Company Shows their Commitment to Values

Al Zucco Culture, Values

Sláinte – Celebrating Business and the Emerald Isle with Glanbia Performance Nutrition

Glanbia Culture & Values

Executives, including the author (center) visit Glanbia’s Ireland offices to explore the company’s culture and values.

We have all seen the last year’s headlines about corporate scandals such as Volkswagen’s Dieselgate, or Turing Pharmaceutical’s price gouging. In the end, the consumer, the environment, or society ultimately loses. Some of these corporations eventually pay the price, but only the corporations that get caught.

At the same time, there is a growing global call for ethical commitments within business, as was witnessed last fall at the Irish Academy of Management’s (IAM) annual conference, with its theme of re-imagining business and the role of ethics. It is time for business to recognize the importance of ethics in business and impact on the triple-bottom-line. The IAM conference was a great opportunity to get together with fellow scholars and practitioners to discuss the impact of ethics and a commitment to values on the performance of business.

While in Ireland for the conference, the Center for Values-Driven Leadership’s delegation visited the Dublin offices of Glanbia Performance Nutrition, to meet with experienced global leaders who embrace ethical and sustainable business operations in the performance nutrition industry. Glanbia’s values-driven history is a counter-balance to the headline-grabbing news of unethical business behavior.

Glanbia Performance Nutrition

Glanbia Performance Nutrition (GPN) is a division of Glanbia plc which is based in Kilkenny, Ireland. Glanbia plc is a €2.8B global nutrition group that employees more than 6000 people in 32 countries. Glanbia’s products are sold and distributed in more than 130 countries. Glanbia Perfomance Nutrition is led by CEO Hugh McGuire. GPN’s portfolio consists of seven performance nutrition brands: Optimum Nutrition, BSN, Isopure, thinkThin, Nutramino, ABB, and trusource. The various brands are distributed through channels such as retail, specialty, and internet as powders, drinks, & bars.

A Commitment to Values

CEO Hugh McGuire is a high energy, charismatic leader who believes in his people, the organization’s strong brands, and the values that are the foundation for the way the company operates. McGuire believes that the values come from the leaders of the organization, but are shared by all people within the organization. The company’s values include:

  • Customers’ Champion – Customers and consumers rely on GPN to deliver every time
  • Performance Matters – The highest standards of performance in quality, safety, consistency and more result in delivering better nutrition every day
  • Find a Better Way – Constantly innovating and collaborating to find a better way is in their DNA
  • Winning Together – GPN is committed to hiring and developing the best people and their collaborative success is what’s important
  • Showing Respect in everything they do – Caring for people and the planet is essential and embedded throughout the organization
  • Sense of Fun – People at GPN take the customer seriously but have fun doing it.

In addition to McGuire, our team met Group Human Resources and Corporate Affairs Director at Glanbia, Michael Patten, and GPN Chief People Officer, Sue Sweem, to discuss what makes GPN a values-driven organization, beyond just the six values outlined in their materials.

For McGuire, it begins with finding people who are a good fit at GPN; employees must be excited by growth, comfortable with both career and personal ambiguity, have a passion for customers, and be able to live GPN’s values every day. He spoke about the importance of being a servant leader as well and the expectations for all leaders within the company to do the same. James Kerr’s book Legacy, has been influential for McGuire’s leaderhip. It is the story of the New Zealand national rugby team, the All Blacks, and how their lessons apply to business and leadership. He relayed a story that resonated with him about the most senior members of the team cleaning up the locker room after the game and how this is a demonstration of servant leadership.

Michael Patten reinforced that Glanbia plc is passionate about their values to the core and is working to ensure that behaviors are fully aligned with the corporation’s values.  For Patten, this starts with Glanbia’s mission of  “Delivering better nutrition for every step of life’s journey; from birth to end of life.” He believes that brand is about how employees and customers interact as part of an organization. Living the mission fully requires increasing collaboration, retiring siloed thinking, and getting the synergies out of the business. This will ultimately build better brand equity, making the workplace more fulfilling, unlocking hidden potential, and ultimately resulting in superior performance, which aligns nicely with the value of “winning together.”

The Game Has Changed

Patten says we now live in a reputation economy. The correlation between reputation and performance is clear: who you are as an organization is what matters.   We discussed the impact of social media and the millennial generation, and how these two factors are significantly changing business today. Patten observes millennials to be more independent, less parochial, less rule following, and less defined by what they do. Values and purpose are more important than ever to engage employees throughout all generations. He says that the social media transformation we are experiencing is the democratization of trust. Organizations can no longer “control” the message. Social media has changed the game.

Patten left us with three insights about values-driven organizations and communication:

  1. We can no longer control organizations; we can only hope to inspire them.
  2. The way leaders lead is the key component of communication. Transparency and social media take care of the rest.
  3. We can use communication to reinforce values, but values must be illustrated through our leadership.

Finally, we had the opportunity to learn from GPN Chief People Officer, Sue Sweem, Ph.D., about the Glanbia Performance Nutrition journey and the power values have on organizational DNA. At Glanbia, values provide a navigation system with purpose and vision. Values align and unify an organization, define proper behaviors, and unlock the true potential of the organization. Finally, she described the Glanbia Way and what it means to be part of Glanbia.

Companies Values in Action

In Ireland, the Gaelic word Sláinte is a cheer of celebration. After exploring the values and process in place at the global company Glanbia Performance Nutrition, our Center’s team had one message for the company’s leadership:  Sláinte! Here is to your continued success.


Al Zucco is the Vice President of Sustainable Supply Chain for US Gypsum, a subsidiary of USG Corporation, and a doctoral student with the Center for Values-Driven Leadership.

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