- 1 Sebastian, how did your adventure with Danone begin?
- 2 What job were you offered when you joined Danone’s Nutricia Factory? How did it develop?
- 3 Could you tell us more about your role in leading Danone’s digital transformation?
- 4 Right now, you’re a Senior Manager in the IT & Digital Manufacturing department. What are your main tasks and responsibilities?
- 5 What made you to develop in this direction?
- 6 Would you recommend working at Danone? What, in your opinion, sets this company apart as an employer and why is it worth considering a career here?
Have you ever wondered how a small twist of fate can lead to a successful career? Meet Sebastian, a Senior Manager in IT & Data Manufacturing at Danone, whose journey from a Junior SAP Consultant to his current role is a testament to the power of seizing opportunities and embracing change. How did he come to join Danone? And what are his tasks and responsibilities as a Senior Manager? Read on to get all the answers!
Sebastian, how did your adventure with Danone begin?
With a happy coincidence back in 2015, when my first child was born. At that time, I was living in Wrocław and working as a Junior SAP Consultant – a job that I saw as a perfect fit for me. However, as life often goes, I had to reevaluate my priorities, take care of my family, and find a more stable and on-site job.
We moved back to our family city, close to Opole, where I found a job at Danone’s Nutricia Factory. I’d heard many positive opinions about Danone being a caring and competitive employer in the local market. Looking back, I must admit it was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life so far.
I feel like I belong to a huge family, surrounded by inspiring people with passion and an open mindset, something I still cherish and promote to this day.
What job were you offered when you joined Danone’s Nutricia Factory? How did it develop?
I started in the Quality Department as a Configurator of the LIMS system.
It initially seemed outside my area of interest. However, it allowed me to familiarize myself with most of the processes functioning in the plant. As a student, I made a promise to myself that whatever comes in my professional life, I will never miss an opportunity to develop. And after just a year at Danone, I was sure there would be plenty of opportunities for growth.
The first one came with SAP implementation project. I was offered a chance to participate, and it turned out to be a great success. A year-long journey not only gave me the knowledge about system-wise process design but also instilled in me the belief that the factory motto “impossible does not exist” is not just a slogan, but a true belief.
After the Project Go-Live, I had a period of working on my own small projects, optimizing process flows in our systems, acting as a Business Analyst. My visibility apparently increased during this time, as a year later, I was offered the position of a Digital Manager.
In 2018, Danone made a strategic decision to join the 4th industrial revolution, and our Opole Factory was chosen to pave the way. I had the opportunity to lead this initiative, which was the first of its kind in Danone. My task was to test all available digital technology in the market and recommend those with the highest potential for global rollout.
Could you tell us more about your role in leading Danone’s digital transformation?
Over the next four years, I coordinated various projects related to data analysis, robotic process automation, AI & ML, Cobots, AGVs, and other Digital Manufacturing solutions. The whole transformation we went through resulted in a global program called DMA – Digital Manufacturing Acceleration, which aims to boost productivity in Danone plants worldwide.
Our factory received the prestigious Digital Lighthouse award from the World Economic Forum, being the first in Europe, the first in Danone, and the only baby food factory in the world to achieve this. I consider this as the greatest achievement in my professional life so far.
Throughout my years at the factory, I closely cooperated with the Warsaw IT unit, serving as a Key User and later as a Digital Project Manager. Our collaboration covered various topics such as infrastructure readiness, system integration capabilities, cyber security, and service level compliance, where IT’s contribution was highly appreciated.
Taking advantage of the significant transition the Danone IT&DATA organization was going through, I found my place in the newly created Warsaw HUB. Another chapter of my journey has begun and I already know that it won’t be the last one.
Right now, you’re a Senior Manager in the IT & Digital Manufacturing department. What are your main tasks and responsibilities?
Managing a team:
I’m primarily responsible for managing a team of Business Analysts who provide 1st level support for global applications functioning in Danone factories across Europe. The role is strongly related to people management activities like personal development, tasks distribution, resources and workload assessment.
Since I have a strong business background, I also pay special attention to business partnering. Building trust and good relationships with our stakeholders through frequent communication and collaborative problem-solving is crucial for our organization. We cannot forget that all we do in IT is to serve business and provide reliable solutions in all areas of Danone operations.
Cooperating with central structures:
Another aspect of my role involves cooperation with central structures. As a HUB, we’re responsible for supporting global systems in whole Europe, while the accountability for their development lies within centrally-based Product Owners. A clear and efficient way of working between those two sides assures great achievements. My responsibility is to foster collaboration within the manufacturing area and provide business-oriented insights to guide the evolution of our products.
Apart from providing support, part of my team also takes part in project delivery. The technical expertise we offer is highly valuable to our clients and provides assurance to Project Managers that we can meet any requirement and deliver best-in-class applications tailored to their needs.
Coordinating the projects portfolio and its roadmap:
This aspect is also crucial for ensuring a standard approach to process design across different geographical locations. As we take over the support of the delivered setup, it is in our best interest to base it on a core design and develop a sustainable solution. My role here involves coordinating the projects portfolio and its roadmap, ensuring the timely and high-quality delivery of projects with appropriate resources.
What made you to develop in this direction?
I’m always looking for new challenges, and at Danone, this attitude is highly appreciated as people often change roles. This gives us a broader understanding of the enormous organism that this corporation is, with all its complex structures and dependencies. As a result, we can see the big picture and progress towards more demanding positions with higher responsibilities.
One of Danone’s HR processes within the yearly cycle is the development conversation. It’s not mandatory but I always encourage my team to find time for it, step back from the daily tasks for an hour or so, and think about the future. It leads to a development plan with a clear learning path and skill level assessment.
To be honest, at first, I didn’t think it would make a difference in my career. However, it changed when I went through it, defined my desired area for a future position, and received an offer for exactly what I had imagined. I always liked to work with technology and liked a systematic approach to tasks. That’s why I never thought of managing people due to uncertainty involved. But every journey has its end, and so it was with mine in digital technologies. I realized that to further develop, I needed to take steps that might not be comfortable at first glance.
Another thing that influenced my decision to reconsider my plans was a personality study course assigned to me by my HR business partner. It turned out that, despite my analytical mind, I had abilities useful for people management. So, I gave it a try, and I don’t regret that decision.
Would you recommend working at Danone? What, in your opinion, sets this company apart as an employer and why is it worth considering a career here?
A unique culture, a strong sense of belonging, and numerous opportunities for growth.
It’s an excellent environment to gain valuable experience if you’re just starting your career, and it remains rewarding if you’re seeking challenges.
For professionals, it’s a space where you can be confident that your contributions and ideas will be appreciated and implemented if they’re considered valuable and aligned with the company’s strategy.
Navigating the role of a Senior Manager isn’t a walk in the park…Take a peek into the second part of our interview with Sebastian to find out how he handles challenges and where he gets his knowledge from!
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