A blank space for a stamp in Genaro Cardenas’s passport is a rare find. The Mexican-born IT thought leader has spent most of his twenty-five-year career working all across Latin America and other parts of the world for two iconic companies—Procter & Gamble and Kellogg Company. He’s logged extended stays in Venezuela, Brazil, and Guatemala along with shorter stints in Mexico, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Ecuador, Chile, and Argentina. Recent projects have taken him to Singapore, India, Romania, and the Philippines.
In 2007, Cardenas relocated to Illinois to lead IT infrastructure and IT application teams for Kellogg in the United States. And, though his world travels have subsided, he draws upon cross-cultural experiences as he leads projects critical to his company’s global success. “The world seems to be getting smaller, and modern companies have to adapt to consumer needs if they want to survive,” he says. “These changes mean that IT professionals and other employees have to cultivate a broad perspective and seek out international experience.”
That’s what Cardenas has done throughout his career, and it’s changing the way he assesses internal needs and works with counterparts around the world to deliver optimized business solutions.
Cardenas completed a bachelor’s degree in computer science at Universidad La Salle in Mexico City. Upon graduation, he accepted a local position with Procter & Gamble and was soon responsible for Internet and e-mail delivery and support in the region.
Kellogg Company Firsts
The first packages of Kellogg’s cereal are made from 100% recycled paperboard, just like nearly all its packages today
The company hires one of the first dietitians in the food industry
Kellogg is one of the first companies to print nutrition, recipe, and product information on cereal packages
The company releases the first high-protein breakfast cereal: Special K
Kellogg’s Corn Flakes are eaten aboard Apollo 11 during the first lunar landing
Kellogg pioneers the use of Guideline Daily Amounts front-of-pack, fact-based information
Source: Kellogg Company Fact Sheet
He joined Kellogg in 2000 and spent the next seven years traveling through various parts of Latin America in roles of increasing responsibility. During that time, he led IT infrastructure projects across Latin America before managing a global voice and data network and later conducting a major legacy application migration during an SAP regional implementation.
The big roles and major projects required Cardenas to analyze various markets and learn how to effectively collaborate with his peers, colleagues, and counterparts to yield the best results. Today, Cardenas is part of Kellogg’s global operational business solutions group during what is an important time for the company.
Acquiring Pringles from Procter & Gamble in 2012 made Kellogg the world’s second-largest producer of snacks. To support that growth and ongoing strategic initiatives, leaders such as Cardenas have to build the necessary technology procedures and systems—and he’s leveraging international experience to do so.
“We can’t afford to be narrow,” he says. “We have to have a global mind-set to deliver the most successful projects in each region as our company grows. We have to understand different cultures, use professional networks in different regions, and communicate clearly.”
Success comes, Cardenas says, when he and his teams “think differently on a global basis.” That means understanding and admitting that what worked in the United States might not work best somewhere else. At Kellogg (and in most businesses of scale) it’s an evolution. Cardenas points to Kellogg’s Salesforce software implementation to illustrate the point. Instead of replicating the US model at each international location, he lead an equivalent project group in Romania, the company’s business-services headquarters. He knew users would need different alerts and forms because foreign companies have varying tax codes, ethics regulations, security configurations, and legal concerns.
Cardenas is now working to deliver a cloud solution for procure-to-pay processes for Latin America and Europe. As he works, he sets a tone of confidence and embraces uncertainty. “These are large projects that take many months,” he says. “We have to start without fully knowing outcomes and appropriations.”
How does he find success in ambiguity? By relying on something else imported from Latin America: a focus on team, valuing not only individual triumph but also collective effort. Cardenas pushes each person in his group to communicate often and to remain aware of everyone else’s contribution.
“Working as a team is a core value in Latin cultures, and it’s something I’ve mined a lot of value from by importing it to my teams in North America,” Cardenas says. “The success of the group is something each member should be proud of. Team wins must be recognized and celebrated within
In the last half of 2016, Kellogg acquired one company in Brazil. Cardenas, who is looking forward to supporting the company as it continues to increase its global footprint, believes the move is a sign of the times, and he encourages those starting a career in business to respond accordingly. “Embrace what every interaction can offer,” he says. “Keep an open mind, and try to learn from every area, every context, and every colleague.”
That’s what Cardenas has done, and it has taken him around the world in a long and distinguished career at one of the world’s most respected corporations.
Wipro is a leading IT, consulting, and business-process services company delivering winning business outcomes through its deep industry experience and 360-degree view of “Business through Technology.” By combining digital strategy, advanced analytics, and a consumer-centric approach, Wipro’s Consumer Goods practice helps its clients build great brands and reengineer the way they connect to their consumers. Wipro is a strategic partner to Kellogg, and Genaro has been a great leader and supporter of the Wipro-Kellogg engagement. We would like to congratulate him on his many successes and wish him the very best in all future endeavor. To know more about Wipro’s CPG practice, please visit wipro.com/industries/consumer-goods/.