In 2017, Evian announced that it had been audited and certified by Carbon Trust as a carbon-neutral brand in the US and Canada. The $336 million investment by the company included converting all of their water-bottle material to be 100 percent recyclable and overhauling their bottling plant in Évian-les-Bains, France, to run entirely off of renewable energy. The effort was in concert with parent company Danone’s much larger One Planet. One Health. sustainability effort. That initiative aligned with the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations and is founded on nine long-term goals across all over Danone’s brands. The company’s recent certification as a B Corp is a major milestone thanks to these efforts, and it’s an accomplishment Yvone Nava says she’s proud to tell her child about.
Born in Texas but raised in Mexico City, the vice president of supply chain has been at Danone for fourteen years, and in that time, she’s learned that the success of Danone’s sustainability efforts—as well as its broader business objectives—is the result of a collaborative effort that has substantial parallels with motherhood. “Working cross-functionally is so important,” Nava says. “Having a child, I’ve realized that it really takes a village—and it’s the same here.”
“Working cross-functionally is so important. Having a child, I’ve realized that it really takes a village—and it’s the same here.”
A group-minded effort and culture have kept Nava wholly engaged at Danone—never mind the lengthy commute. “I always tell people it’s worth it because of the culture and the people. I love this place,” Nava says.
Doing the Job Too Well
One of Nava’s primary responsibilities is identifying when and where efficiencies can be implemented. It’s a role that’s had to evolve in large part because Nava has been so effective. “For someone that has been here for a while, the pool of projects you can touch can get small pretty fast,” the VP says. “It’s tough to makes things more efficient that you’ve already made more efficient—at least not at the same scale.” It’s been one of Nava’s biggest challenges, but one that she has adapted to, first by scaling down her scope to smaller areas of focus, then by expanding far beyond the walls of Danone.
“When it comes to thinking outside of the box in order to identify my next project, it really comes down to engaging our external stakeholders and thinking outside of the organization,” Nava explains. “We look at our third-party logistics [3PLs] and see how we can leverage opportunities to help each other.” She says this after having just gotten off a call with a beverage distributor to see what in their model might coincide with Danone’s processes and how the two might ultimately collaborate to save money and improve efficiencies. “By going external, I’m starting to find our next level of opportunities,” she says. “What actions can we take to help our partners find mutual benefits?”
In the end, the focus on relationship building has no downside. “More and more, you find people are willing to talk,” the VP says. “Even if nothing concrete comes from it, the brainstorming exercise is beneficial for all parties.”
Pride Outside of Business Success
Nava’s long stay at Danone can also be linked to what she considers a strong connection between her own values and those of the company. Sustainability efforts for the environment, the VP says, are inherently built into Danone’s culture. “The Evian project has shown us a new way of working and thinking, and we are committed to reducing the entire company’s carbon output year after year,” Nava says. As a young intern at Danone Mexico, Nava still remembers watching the recording of a speech from Danone founder Antoine Riboud, during which he expressed a commitment not just to the bottom line, but the betterment of the world. It was a viewpoint that was thought of as unorthodox at the time, even in France. “I know it sounds cheesy, but I remember getting chills,” Nava says. “You have an opportunity to really live those values here.”
Nava’s business partners have seen her blossom as a result of living those values. Luca Baldoni, who manages the Danone US account at Geodis, has long been impressed with her expertise. “I’ve been working with Yvone for several years, and because we partner with Danone in the supply chain of transportation and logistics, I’ve had the opportunity to see her professional growth during that time,” explains Geodis’s vice president of sales for the Americas. “I see her as a true ambassador of Danone’s mission, a professional leader with strong ethical values, and someone who never stops thinking about innovation and optimization. At Geodis, we’re glad to collaborate with Yvone—she is a great business partner.”
“Danone is like Mexico City: a fast-paced place, full of amazing people eager to make a difference and work as teams to deliver results.”
Danone is fortunate to mark 2019 as another record year, one in which the company advanced in part due to its acute attention to detail. “[Success can be the result of] simple things, like relying more on rail than trucks, having the right metrics in place, and making the right cost/benefit decision—not just from a cost standpoint, but from a carbon impact view, too.”
Indeed, Danone’s achievement of a B Corp certification has been a high point for the VP, and she attributes it to far more than herself. “This was something that truly gives me more satisfaction than our sales,” Nava explains. “The work that I’ve driven is now being carried on by my team, and the efforts that they have made to push for more sustainability.”
As the VP has risen through roles, she continues to underline that while her results-oriented style has helped achieve big wins at Danone, it’s the village and not the individual that cements the company as a global mainstay in food. “As I onboard new hires, I often get asked why I have stayed with Danone for so long,” Nava says. “I answer that Danone is like Mexico City: a fast-paced place, full of amazing people eager to make a difference and work as teams to deliver results.”
Spot congratulates Yvone Nava on this exciting and impressive recognition. Our company has had the pleasure of providing customized transportation services to Yvone and her team for many years. We look forward to the continued success and growth of our relationship with both Danone and Yvone. spotinc.com