Gather perspective — even from unexpected places. Teams are strengthened when we bring in diversity of thought and experience. When I look at my own team, they come from different functional backgrounds, experiences, and nationalities. It is incredible having someone from, for example, a quality and food safety background bring that perspective to discussing financial auditing and controls — we get some unique ideas which can turn into very successful solutions.
As a part of our series about “How Diversity Can Increase a Company’s Bottom Line”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Angela Mangiapane.
Angela Mangiapane is the president of Mars Global Services, Mars shared services group, and is focused on building a better tomorrow by creating value for the company through unique skills, scale, and technology. She brings more than 30 years of diverse experience at Mars, including financial and talent leadership roles spanning several Mars businesses and geographies.
Named to her current role in October 2016, Angela is spearheading the transformation of Mars Global Services to increase efficiency, effectiveness, and experience across the company’s shared services functions. She leads a team of approximately 3,000 Associates dedicated to enabling the company’s business to focus on growth while helping to unleash the full impact of The Five Principles: Quality, Responsibility, Mutuality, Efficiency and Freedom.
Angela completed her MBA at the Schulich School of Business as well as executive programs at the London Business School. As a firm believer in life-long learning, Angela is an advisory board member for Shared Services & Outsourcing (SSON) North America, co-chairs the Conference Board Global Business Services (GBS) vertical and is a board member of Economics of Mutuality Solutions. She most recently joined the Kalinga Fellowship, whose mission is to eradicate gender-based violence.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit more. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
I’m Angela Mangiapane, president of MGS, which I like to think of as the “backbone of Mars” — the company behind brands you know and love like M&M’s®, Ben’s Original™ and Pedigree®.We call ourselves the backbone because it’s our Associates (what we call our employees) who ensure our business operations run brilliantly and effectively, overseeing everything from our financial operations, to talent acquisition to quality and food safety testing (just to name a few).
I’ve been lucky to spend most of my career at Mars, across several functions in many parts of the world. Among the many reasons I’ve stayed with the company for so long is that as a family owned, Principle-led company, Mars holds strong values that align very much with my own. At Mars, we’re always guided by our Purpose, “the world we want tomorrow starts with how we do business today.” This inspires us to push boundaries, challenge ourselves in the work we do every day, and focus on the impact we can make on our own development and those around us.
Throughout my career, I have intentionally focused on finding ways to push myself outside of my comfort zone. This means acknowledging core beliefs and examining which ones might be inaccurate and unproductive. Every time I transitioned to a new role at Mars, I often focused on the qualifications I didn’t have, rather than recognizing what unique skills I could bring to a new opportunity — and once I realized I needed to shift that mindset, I was much more able to see a path forward for myself. I’ve gotten to where I am today by advocating for myself and raising my hand. I know sometimes women tend to wait to be tapped for a leadership role or think they don’t have the right skillset for a role they want, but when I mentor women (and men), I tell them to not be afraid to raise your hand — have your voice be heard. That’s one theme that I’ve carried with me throughout my career at Mars.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? Can you tell us the lesson or take away you took out of that story?
About 14 years ago, I had the opportunity to work for our Latin America business. As part of my onboarding, I met several new faces and had the opportunity to introduce myself in front of a large group. I smiled and shared my name, my title, a bit about my role and what some of my day-to-day responsibilities were. I wanted to come across extremely professional and instill confidence in the group. After my introduction, the room did not move. My Latin American counterparts began on to their own introductions and rather than speaking to their work backgrounds, all led with their familial roles — “I am a husband, a mother, a brother.” “Here are my children.” One colleague began his introduction by taking a family portrait out from his briefcase.
My jaw dropped — I had really missed the mark here! Once everyone was done, I raised my hand and asked for a do over, “I am also a mother to two children! We have pets! My husband, without question, wins the best dad of the year award! And I love to work with people and find solutions to problems.” The room now smiled and embraced me. I was able to bring the “real me” into the room versus what I thought they wanted to see. Then we started to get to the work agenda on hand.
It was an important lesson in business, and in life, to absorb the setting around you and reposition yourself with your best foot forward. I believe that there is an opportunity to learn something every day, and that day was a big learning moment for me. It’s also a reminder of why we all come to work. There needs to be a clear purpose of why we do what we do. For my team in Latin America and for me, it is our roles outside of work, including our families, that drive us and help us (and them) reach our full potential.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Mars is, and always has been, focused on fostering an inclusive workplace guided by our Five Principles of Quality, Responsibility, Mutuality, Efficiency and Freedom. These Principles form the foundation of how we do business today and every day — they are our guiding philosophy that has always differentiated us. There’s also something to be said about working for a family-owned company and bringing your full self to work each day. Just like a family, at Mars, we find value in each individual person, and we are building for the long term, something which will last for generations to come.
At Mars, I can say the same thing about the teams I have either led or been part of. As an example, when I think of who I want to bring onto my team, I always ask myself the question, “Will this person be a culture add versus a culture fit?” Embracing diverse perspectives will enable the overall team to come up with much more robust solutions.
Another thing I love about Mars is our internship program. I love connecting with our different teams of interns around the world. They give me lots of energy. I get to see how they think about the world from their lens; they tell me all the things we are getting right, and identify areas where we still have more work to do. I come out of my conversations with our interns energized, as they have given me so much hope for the future.
Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? How do you think that might help people?
I’ve talked a bit about the world we want tomorrow and know I’m not alone when I say it’s one where society is inclusive — and it’s something we, as a company, are focused on achieving as well. Last year, Mars launched our Full Potential platform outlining our commitments to supporting women in the workplace, communities & marketplace. Then in February, we built on that program with the launch of our #HereToBeHeard campaign, which is focused on action & impact to create real change for women: women from all walks of life, and at all intersections of society. The campaign asks women to add their voice in answering the question: “What needs to change so more women can reach their full potential?” This summer, we’ll commission a report in partnership with Oxford University to analyze the responses and sharing the actions we at Mars want to take to address the findings. We know that when women thrive, Mars thrives, as does the community around us.
Today, women represent nearly 50% of our management population and 43% of our business leadership teams are gender balanced. I am very excited that Mars is committed to achieving 100% gender-balanced business leadership teams across our global business. Within my division of MGS, we’re constantly working toward a more diverse and balanced leadership team. Right now, nearly half of MGS leadership positions are filled by women. I’m proud we’re maintaining gender balance, but acknowledge further progress is top of mind as we continue elevating our female Associates across the business.
If you agree that the world will be a better place when everyone, women and men, can reach their full potential, I recommend you lend your voice to our efforts around #HereToBeHeard, at: https://beheard.mars.com/.
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
I mentioned that Mars has values that align with my own, and what drives me is a clear purpose. I always like to think that it’s important for leaders to be clear about your purpose in the workplace and in life. These days, the boundaries between home and workplace are certainly blurred as many of us worked from home this past year. With that in mind, one piece of advice I would give to others is to be intentional about what we need, whether that’s a new role, support from mentors or more time to focus on family. Be very clear about your asks, so you can get clarity of the road you want to follow. Asking for support is the best way to be intentional and start conversations about your career path, rather than waiting for it to happen. We also can’t forget about “paying it forward” or “giving back.” I have had the benefit of many wonderful mentors (males and females) throughout my life. Having a positive impact on someone’s life is just as important to me as making a positive impact on business.
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders about how to manage a large team?
Leaders, especially women, are often approached with the topic of “having it all.” It’s an especially significant topic to delve into so close to Women’s History Month, recognized in the U.S. in March. I have personal experience in overextending myself in that space, especially when juggling the responsibilities of managing a team.
When I was younger, like many other women, I found myself juggling work, family life and small children — and I found I was exhausting other people by trying to do too much, as well as exhausting myself. In my mind, back then, it was other people’s problem if they couldn’t keep up with me. I needed to be a superhero as this is what I thought people expected from a woman. But as I’ve grown in my career, something I often share with other leaders is that it’s critical to slow down and focus — be known for a few great things rather than for trying to do everything. When we, as leaders are more intentional and focused, it gives us the space to guide our teams more effectively to be successful.
Ok. Thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the main part of our interview. This may be obvious to you, but it is not intuitive to many people. Can you articulate to our readers five ways that increased diversity can help a company’s bottom line? (Please share a story or example for each.)
Even a few months into 2021, we are still facing difficult situations as a nation and as a world. The urgency of acting now for a better tomorrow, thinking beyond our own legacy and for the generations to come, is how meaningful business impact happens. Companies who understand that inclusion and diversity is as good for business and the bottom line as they are for workers, customers, communities, and society at large, are well suited to succeed in the long run. Five ways this can come to life include:
- Gather perspective — even from unexpected places. Teams are strengthened when we bring in diversity of thought and experience. When I look at my own team, they come from different functional backgrounds, experiences, and nationalities. It is incredible having someone from, for example, a quality and food safety background bring that perspective to discussing financial auditing and controls — we get some unique ideas which can turn into very successful solutions.
- Work with partners who share your values. At Mars, we know WHAT we do is only as good as HOW we do it. Our goal is always to work with suppliers and partners who share our Principles-based approach to business. For example, through our global partnership with CARE, we’re building on a five-year collaboration to strengthen women’s social and economic empowerment in West African cocoa-growing communities. Mars recently committed an additional 10 million dollars investment to expand Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs) that help women to save and invest in these communities. Through VSLAs, women have access to financial inclusion and connection to formal finance, as well as business skills and entrepreneurship training. The support women are getting from partners on the ground mirrors what Mars stands for as a values-driven company.
- Adapt your teams’ needs for the best results. A big part of creating the world we want tomorrow means supporting our female Associates through the duration of their careers. We know that to foster an innovative and welcoming workplace, we need to surround ourselves with diverse perspectives. For example, I remember interviewing candidates for a general management role, and one of the applicants was pregnant. She called to let me know how much she would love to apply, but under the circumstances felt it was not possible. I reminded her that as a team, we are looking at long-term success, and encouraged her to apply. We ended up selecting her for the role, and postponed her start date until she came back from maternity leave. By allowing ourselves to adapt and shift our timeline, we were able to make the best decision, not only for the candidate, but for the entire team’s success.
- Fail fast, and unlearn to relearn. I’m always challenging my team to think about new ways of working, and sometimes that means we need to “unlearn” the old ways first. It’s the idea of “progress over perfection,” because by failing fast, we can quickly pivot to try new things. Failing fast is something we employ at MGS all the time when we’re implementing a new technology or rolling out a new tool. We rely on our Associates to give us input, because we know inspiration can come from anywhere. One technique we are using more often is the use of a “hackathon.” This allows Associates from any role or any part of our business to participate in problem-solving exercises. I encourage our Associates to not only think outside of the box, but to break the box.
- Be rooted in Purpose. I’ve said it several times, but data shows that purpose-driven companies are more successful, and this means having inclusion and diversity at the forefront. One way we’re doing this is with our suppliers. Our supplier diversity program ensures we have a wide range of suppliers who share and apply our Purpose and Principles. We expect our suppliers to have inclusion and diversity as one of their priorities, and more importantly, want to see their targets and progress made against those priorities. We want to be known for what we do, versus only what we say, and I’m proud to see us living this commitment with our suppliers
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I steadfastly believe that you are the captain of your career ship — only you can steer toward the meaningful changes you desire. Today, my position allows me to leave a positive impact on society and focus on giving everyone a seat at the table in our virtual environment, without the typical hallway and watercooler conversations that often spark informal relationships and conversations. I am grateful to lead in an environment where everyone has an equal opportunity. In addition, I feel that work I do outside of Mars, but very much aligned with its values, provides me a great opportunity to make a contribution.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?
“If you’re on a path that’s not the one that you want to be on, you can also pivot, and you can also move, and age doesn’t make a difference, race, gender. It’s about putting one step in front of another, about forward movement to where you want to be.” — Ava DuVernay
Renowned filmmaker Ava DuVernay inspires me for many reasons, but I particularly love that she had a unique career path and didn’t even get into filmmaking until a bit later in her career. It’s the forever reminder that we should never stop learning, pursuing what drives us, and focusing on where we can make the greatest contributions.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful toward who helped get you to where you are?
My mom inspires me every day. In the early ’60s, with no money and speaking no English, she came from Italy to Canada to give her children a better life. She is my guiding light and source of motivation for hard work and achieving an education. She also made sure we understood the value of giving back to our community and would always be an advocate for those less fortunate than she was. She never held back saying what was on her mind, always telling me to speak up when something isn’t right. She gave me the confidence that I could do anything, which has been critical to my success across many facets of my life.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this 🙂
My mind immediately goes to the future generation of young women who inspire me. My recent participation as a fellow at the Kalinga Institute has opened my eyes to the continued gender-based violence which still occurs today in many parts of the world, especially to girls under the age of 18. I would love to have tea with Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest Nobel Prize Laureate. Elevating the voices of women from all intersections — including race, age, sexual identity, religion and ability — can help shape a more inclusive business environment and create a world where all women can thrive.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn — it’s one place that I often share updates on the work my team and Mars is doing to live our Purpose and further our inclusion & diversity work.