Ever enjoyed Airheads or Mentos? If so, then you’ve tasted the work of ‘candy man’ Mehmet Yuksek, President and CEO of Perfetti van Melle North America*. But Mehmet’s work goes far deeper than making life sweeter through confections. Perfetti van Melle is a stand out company in terms of innovation, culture, and community involvement, and today, he and Mike talk about how Mehmet’s company makes a real difference in the lives of its employees and the communities where they operate.
- How on earth did Mehmet go from the youngest of three siblings in Turkey to the North American leader of a global company? He shares the tale of striving in a city that was ‘too small to contain him,’ and how the support of his family helped get him to Istanbul, to university, and eventually, to a career as a ‘candy man.’
- Every great leader has had a great mentor (or a few) along their road to success. Mehmet’s English teacher was a ‘world citizen’ and intellectual who opened his eyes to more than just English. His classes were rich and varied, and his teacher took a special interest in each of his students. This shaped Mehmet’s life and still affects him today. In high school, Mehmet also had his eyes opened to the world of marketing.
- Mehmet’s life took a dangerous turn when he served his mandatory time in the military on the Iranian border where he had the lives of 50 soldiers in his care. He learned the meaning of leadership in the harrowing conditions of the Iranian border. After his 16 months of service, Mehmet found Perfetti and worked with them in marketing.
- From Colgate as an intern to Perfetti as an employee in Turkey and Milan and now one of the global chief executives, Mehmet shares what heart-centered ideals at Perfetti have kept him there.
- In 2012, Mehmet journey to the US to take on the President and CEO of Perfetti Van Melle North America, and it’s a direct result of being able to interact directly with executives and shareholders. He lived in a more entrepreneurial environment and was exposed to how that mindset shaped the future of the company. Mehmet shares the benefits he garnered from the experience.
- Passion and purpose are necessary in Mehmet’s working life. He reveals his favorite book on the subject of leadership, Good to Great by Jim Collins. Patrick Lencioni was also a major influencer because of his adherence to simplicity in leadership. Mehmet shares how he has brought what he learned into day to day life and organizational health. It all starts with the word, ‘how.’
- What’s the first thing that keeps Mehmet up at night? Talent. Having top talent and keeping them is critical in a business’s success. He’s the first to admit that he can’t make Perfetti successful on his own; he needs an ‘army’ of talented people beside him on the journey. Mehmet shares how he builds his team based on a vision and the culture of celebration that makes it happen.
- Mehmet’s success as President and CEO of Perfetti Van Melle North America isn’t just all talk. Since he took over in 2012 in North America, Mehmet has led Perfetti on a real, measurable turnaround. Innovation played a major role as did re-evaluating the talent pipeline. Mehmet’ story proves that you can grow without buying, acquiring, or selling.
- Mehmet has a beautiful framework you can take and use in your business, and it’s based on the principle of a house. The roof is composed of courage, focus, and clarity. The structure is the people you have. And the foundation is strategy, innovation, and execution. He explains the sections of the house and how the three pieces fit together.
- Mehmet wraps up his story with one very important thing we should all do, whether in business, community, or family: be generous with your time and your money whenever you can.
*As of 2020 Mehmet is now the President of Reily Foods Company
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