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Joselito D. Campos Jr., CEO of Del Monte Pacific Ltd

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Joselito D. Campos, Jr., or Butch as he is fondly called by family, friends and colleagues has taken one too many brave strides in his life. The first and pivotal step which set his course into the food and beverage industry was leaving the flourishing family business in pharmaceuticals and embarking on his own. He acquired and consolidated many smaller food companies in the 1990s and turned them into a US$330 million company under NutriAsia Inc. He acquired the Singapore-listed Del Monte Pacific Ltd (DMPL) in 2005. His boldest move was the acquisition of Del Monte in the United States two years ago for US$1.7 billion transforming DMPL into a global company. From a US$500 million turnover, DMPL quadrupled its sales. This took the world by surprise and made Filipinos proud – a Filipino company taking on the world in a milestone deal.

Campos obtained his Business Administration degree from the University of Santa Clara, California and his MBA from Cornell University in New York. He is the eldest son of the late Jose Yao Campos, a Filipino industrialist who founded United Laboratories, Inc. (Unilab) in the Philippines, a leading manufacturer of pharmaceutical products in the Asian region, and larger than the multinationals in the Philippines. Campos worked at Unilab for close to 30 years, and was its Chairman and CEO for five years, helping build its strong leading presence as a major provider of healthcare goods and services in Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Vietnam, among others.

Campos later transferred the reigns of Unilab to his sister and set out a new path for himself in food and beverage. NutriAsia started operations in 1991 when Campos acquired the Nelicom brand, a major condiments brand in North Luzon with a small manufacturing factory producing ketchup, vinegar, soy sauce and fish sauce. In the same year, the company merged with more leading household brands like Jufran and Mafran ketchup, Datu Puti, Papa Ketchup, and Mang Tomas Lechon Sauce following

Campos’s vision of offering all the Filipinos’ favourite sauce brands under one roof. 1996 was an important year for the company, with yet another acquisition, this time the number one local ketchup brand, UFC Tamis-Anghang Banana Ketchup.

NutriAsia entered into a joint venture with its first foreign partner, HJ Heinz of the US in 2000. This was a significant development as the company was able to learn new technologies and business processes that influenced the way NutriAsia does business until today. It parted amicably with Heinz in 2006 as Campos acquired Del Monte Pacific Limited, which owns the household brand Del Monte in the Philippines. DMPL was his first listed company acquisition, and DMPL is the first dual-listed company on the Singapore Exchange and the Philippine Stock Exchange.

NutriAsia’s team led by Campos perfectly blends the creativity and aggressiveness of young professionals with the mature wisdom of industry veterans to make up a highly experienced and dynamic management team. Over the years, it has built solid business fundamentals with its distribution, six factories, systems and network. The company’s revenues have already reached over US$300 million with strong cash flows, and its products are exported globally. It employs close to 5,000 people all over the Philippines. In 2014, NutriAsia acquired the leading soy sauce brand and the second leading vinegar brand in the Philippines, Silver Swan.

NutriAsia boasts a portfolio of iconic, market leading brands of condiments, sauces and cooking oil in the Philippines. It is number one with an 87% market share in the local vinegar market through the Datu Puti brand, number one with 86% for soy sauce, 77% for ketchup and 97% for roasted meat or lechon sauce through the Mang Tomas brand. NutriAsia also pioneered and grew the Philippine palm cooking oil market. Its brand, UFC Golden Fiesta, continues to be a category leader in supermarkets in the Philippines.

In a close bidding war in late 2005 with other strong bidders, Campos fought hard to gain ownership of Del Monte Pacific Ltd. Through NutriAsia, he currently controls 67% of DMPL and is the company’s CEO. DMPL is a prized business with 90 years of operations in the Philippines boasting the dominant Del Monte brand. It has leading market shares in canned pineapples and mixed fruits, canned and tetra ready-to-drink juices, tomato ketchup, tomato sauce and spaghetti sauce with 50-90% market shares in most categories.

DMPL still is predominantly a producer and marketer of processed products. Given market trends for healthy eating and high demand for fresh fruits, Campos pushed for the development of the fresh pineapple business. Plantings of the sweeter MD2 pineapple variety were increased in 2009. From its humble beginnings, this business has grown to become a US$60 million business exporting the Philippine brand of sweet pineapples to Japan, China, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and the Middle East under the S&W brand.

Under Campos’s leadership, DMPL promises health, wellness, superior value and innovation. The beverage portfolio in the Philippines offers juices with Green Coffee Extract and L-Carnitine proven to reduce body fat with diet and exercise; 100% Pineapple Juice HeartSmart with Reducol, a special blend of plant sterols and stanols that help lower bad cholesterol; and 100% Pineapple Juice BoneSmart, a calcium-fortified juice that has twice the level of calcium than a glass of milk, designed to provide the same benefits to lactose-intolerant consumers. DMPL brought the HeartSmart Pineapple Juice into the United Arab Emirates which won the Singapore Business Review Listed Companies Awards 2015 for Best Innovation.

In the US, Del Monte is pushing forward with a full range of non- GMO products and non-BPA packaging. It also launched Fruit in Cups for healthier snacking in the US. In India, Del Monte was one of the first to introduce a range of packaged dried fruits – prunes, cranberries and apricots. Other innovations include Eggless Mayonnaise and flavoured ones like Tandoori Mayo and Mint Mayo.

Camposbelievesthat“twoheadsarebetterthanone.”Hesurrounds himself with a talented management team to drive the company to its next stage of growth. Campos champions corporate governance, transparency and sustainability in DMPL. DMPL has won the prestigious Best Managed Board (Gold) Award twice from the Singapore Corporate Awards. The Del Monte Foundation, under his leadership, supported 375 scholars and served 30,000 patients through mobile clinics in over 40 remote communities around the plantations in the Philippines in the last fiscal year. He leads with kindness and empathy. He cares for his people’s well-being. Campos is also passionate about animals and the environment. He is a National Advisory Council Member of the World Wildlife Fund Philippines and a Director of the Philippines Eagle Society. He is a Trustee of the Philippines-China Business Council and the Philippines Center for Entrepreneurship.

DMPL is now a US$2.3 billion company with 12 factories in the USA, two in Mexico, one in Venezuela and an integrated pineapple operation in the Philippines. It is a large global operation with a loyal following of consumers. Similar to the Vision of DMPL, Campos dreams of “Nourishing Families. Enriching Lives. Every Day.” and will champion his 20,000 colleagues worldwide to realise this vision. “My father once told me, ‘nothing comes easy.’ Growing a business is much like growing an orchard. You need to sow good seeds and nurture them before you can harvest good fruits.”

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Benjamin Kwan, Co-Founder of TravelClef

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Making music to create a life for his family, Benjamin Kwan, started an online tuition portal and his music business grew from there.

What’s your story?
I am Benjamin and I’m the Co-Founder of TravelClef Group Pte Ltd, a travelling music school that conducts music classes in companies as well as team building with music programmes. We also run an online educational platform which matches private students to freelance music teachers. We also manufacture our own instruments. I started this company in 2011 when I was still a freshman at NUS, majoring in Mechanical Engineering.

I was born to a lower income family, my father drove a taxi and was the sole breadwinner to a family of 7. I have always dreamed of becoming rich so that I could lessen the burden placed on my father and give my family a good life.

After working really hard in my first semester at NUS, my results didn’t reflect the hard work and effort I put in. At the same time, I was left with just $42 in my bank account and it suddenly dawned on me that if I were to graduate with mediocre results, I would probably end up with a mediocre salary as well. I knew I had to do something to gain control of my future.

During that summer break, I read a book “Internet Riches” by Scott Fox and I knew that the only way I could ever start my own business with my last $42 would be to start an online business. That was how our online tuition portal started and after taking 4 days to learn Photoshop and website building on my own, I started the business.

What excites you most about your industry?
Music itself is a constant form of excitement to me as I have always been an avid lover of music. As one of the world’s first travelling music schools, we are always very eager and excited to find innovative ways to a very traditional business model of a music teaching.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and raised in Singapore and I love the fact that despite our diversity in culture, there’s always a common language that we share, music.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Hands down, SINGAPORE! Although we are currently in talks to expand to other regions within Asia, Singapore is the best place for business. I have had friends asking me if they should consider venturing into entrepreneurship in Singapore, my answer is always a big fat YES! There’s a low barrier of entry, and most importantly, the government is very supportive of entrepreneurship.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
I have been blessed by many people and mentors who constantly give me great advice but right now, I would say the best piece of advice that I received would be from Dr Patrick Liew who said, “Work on the business, not in it.” This advice is constantly ringing in my head as I work towards scaling the business.

Who inspires you?
My dad. My dad has always been my inspiration in life, for the amount of sacrifices that he has made for the family and the love he has for us. He was the umbrella for all the storms that my family faced and we were always safe in his shelter. Although my dad passed away after a brief fight with colorectal cancer, the lessons that he imparted to me were very valuable as I build my own family and business.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
You can not buy time, but you can spend money to save time! With this realisation, I was willing to allow myself to spend some money, in order to save more time. Like taking Grab/Uber to shuttle around instead of spending time travelling on public transport. While I spend more money on travelling, I save a lot more time! This doesn’t mean that I spend lavishly and extravagantly, I am still generally prudent with my money.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have taken more time to spend with my family and especially my father. While it is important to focus our time to build our businesses, we should always try our best to allocate family time. Because as an entrepreneur, there is no such thing as “after I finish my work,” because our work is never finished. If our work finishes, the business is also finished. But our time with our family is always limited and no matter how much money and how many successes we achieve, we can never use it to trade back the time we have with our family.

How do you unwind?
I am a very simple man. I enjoy TV time with my wife and a simple dinner with my family and friends.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Batam, it’s close to Singapore and there’s really nothing much to do except for massages and a relaxing resort life. If I travel to other countries for shopping or sightseeing, I am constantly thinking of business and how I can possibly expand to the country I am visiting. But while relaxing at the beach or at a massage, I tend to allow myself to drift into emptiness and just clear my mind of any thoughts.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Work The System, by Sam Carpenter. This book teaches entrepreneurs the importance of creating systems and how to leverage on systems to improve productivity and create more time.

Shameless plug for your business:
If you are looking for a team building programme that your colleagues will enjoy and your bosses will be happy with, you have to consider our programmes at TravelClef! While our programmes are guaranteed fun and engaging, it is also equipped with many team building deliverables and organizational skills.

How can people connect with you?
My email is [email protected] and I am very active on Facebook as well!
https://www.facebook.com/benjamin.christian.kwan

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com

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Nadia Al Sheikh, Founder & CEO of Flenco & Deal’n

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Nadia Al Sheikh has created a business module which incorporates philanthropy and business to empower others, and herself, she’s called her business Deal’n.

What’s your story?
My story is mirrored in my work. Flenco and our Singaporean eco skin care brand, “Flen” combines Dead Sea minerals from the lowest point of earth with Chinese medicine, which represents the wisdom and mystics of the east and these things represent my journey. I’m a single mother rediscovering my identity at a low point in life. Throughout my journey, determination, flexibility and assertiveness are the pillars of innovation. Thus Deal’n was born after years of groundwork in volunteering with various NGO’s and pursuing my masters degree. Transforming a vision, into a module that incorporates philanthropy and business, with tools to empower others and empower myself!

What excites you most about your industry?
The endless opportunities for improvement, innovation, creativity, free thinking which is mastered through interaction with other players in the market and customers creating a virtual place for brainstorming and the exchange of ideas. An evolving industry that challenges each and every person to use their skills, talents, expertise and utilise all their abilities to claim a slice of the pie.

What’s your connection to Asia?
Asia and specifically Singapore are my second home. It’s my spiritual and business safe haven that provides fair opportunities for everyone to succeed. If I was back in the Middle East as a single mother, I’m pretty sure my struggle would have been much longer and more difficult, however, it wouldn’t have stopped me from achieving my dreams. Singapore specifically empowered me professionally and Asia spiritually in redefining who I am as a person and understanding myself better.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore, although it’s a very tough and competitive market for entrepreneurs to start a business, it provides them with support and motivation through grants, competitions and subsidising the cost of exhibiting or promotional events to promote their business.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Success is measured by achieving your own personal goals and dreams and not what others think you should achieve.

Who inspires you?
Those who go unnoticed. From senior citizens, cleaning tables at food courts regardless of their wealth of knowledge and experience to single mothers, who are fighting everyday to overcome the social stigma and manage taking care of their children while earning an income. The amazing people who give their lives to start an NGO to empower others asking for nothing in return except the success of their beneficiaries, the humble members of our community that work in silence changing lives not for the spotlight but for their belief in making the world a better place.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
To step onto the balcony! In order to evaluate situations and understand people’s motivations from different perspectives and even to understand ourselves better we all need to step onto the balcony and become observers rather than participants. It gives you the power to see life through a variety of lenses.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I’d be wiser with my decisions, evaluate situations from different perspectives and believe in myself and my capabilities. That all came with experience and the ups and downs throughout my journey so I guess, to be who I am today I would have accepted the rough times and embraced them because they were my best teachers. So I wouldn’t undo the past but I am changing my future.

How do you unwind?
Meditation, exercising, listening to music, reading a book and a walk in the botanical gardens.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Maldives, I love the peace and harmony in the simplicity of what it offers; beautiful beaches and wonderful people.

Everyone in business should read this book:
The Wisdom Of Crowds by James Surowiecki

Shameless plug for your business:
Deal’n provides opportunities for all members of the community to utilize their skills, talents, expertise, capabilities and abilities in various ways, aiming at empowering all users to become productive members of their community. Using the services of other users for all to grow and benefit, interact with each other through the Deal’n community, thus enhancing their self esteem, level of confidence and as a result, a more empathetic and happier community!

How can people connect with you?
Through my FB page Nadousheh, my email [email protected]

Twitter handle?
@nadiaalsheikh

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com

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