skip to main content

Young “Cargillians” land among “Marsians”

…and go home with new connections, great learnings and happy taste buds

October 06, 2016

Remember that scene from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” where the children enter a vast landscape made of chocolate rivers, gummy trees and sugary, edible…everything? Our Belgian Young Cargill Network employees had a similar experience when we visited the Mars factory in Veghel, the Netherlands.

The Network organizes several activities each year for Belgian employees under the age of 35. Earlier this year, we visited our chocolate plant in Mouscron in the south of Belgium to learn the ins-and-outs of chocolate making. A logical next step was to visit a customer that uses this chocolate and to connect with their young employees.

inpage-cargill-marsThe author’s tasty takeaway…which she did share with her colleagues! Mars employees often refer to themselves as “Marsians” and several of them welcomed our Cargill group. We began with a tour of the manufacturing plant where they make Celebrations®, a variety pack of different miniature-sized chocolate bars. The air carried the scent of sweet chocolate and we were surrounded by large machines with conveyor belts, off which little tasty chocolate bars were flying at full speed. We saw well-loved brands such as Bounty®, Milky Way® and Mars® bars being produced. Yet the best part came after the tour, when we got to savor these favorite treats together with a group of young Marsians.

We gathered in a beautiful traditional little Dutch house that now serves as a meeting room at the site. Cargill’s Denis Mollet, the key account manager for Mars, told us about the relationship we have with the company. He explained that we have a lot in common, from our roots as family-owned businesses to our shared commitment to sustainability. Then, fueled by the widely available chocolate bars, the “Cargillians” and Marsians started sharing our own career experiences.

Three things I learned about Mars:

It runs in the family – Over a hundred years old, Mars is still a privately owned, family-run company. Frank C. Mars started making candies in his Tacoma, Washington kitchen, and his son Forrest build it into a successful global company. Mars’ Five Principles, very similar to our own Cargill Guiding Principles, are at the heart of everything they do.

Mars is much more than chocolate – The company actually has six different businesses – Petcare, Chocolate, Wrigley, Food, Drinks and Symbioscience that reach billions of consumers and achieve more than $33 billion in global sales. Famous brand such as Pedigree® dog food, Uncle Ben’s® rice and Wrigley’s® chewing gum are part of the Mars portfolio.

They take good care of their young people – Besides the widely available free candy, young Mars employees enjoy the benefit of two-year rotations, international placement opportunities and a mentoring program. This year, they received the Best Place to Work award for European multinational Workspaces.

Before driving back to Belgium, we were offered some chocolate to take back for colleagues, friends and family. Let’s just say Mars’ stockpile of candy bars was considerably depleted after the young professionals left the premises. You can see the result of my raid in the picture. Don’t worry, I did share with my colleagues.