Insights · December 24th, 2010
It was my favorite keynote speech of the year, and one we’ll leave up here for the holiday break, with Happy Holiday wishes to everyone.
The event was FINOV 2010, an annual event of the SONAE company at which they honor individuals and teams for the innovations of the past year. This year the conference took place in a centuries old former monastery in Porto, Portugal, a spectacular setting.
I was not familiar with Sonae when they first contacted me, but soon learned that they are the largest employer in Portugal with nearly 50,000 employees and with an expanding international presence. The company began in 1959 manufacturing wood panels. From that modest beginning the company has grown into a diverse conglomerate. They continue to manufacture panels, but that has become a small part of the business. Now Sonae is known as a retailer and developer, as they build and operate “hypermarketsâ€ and shopping centers in Portugal and elsewhere in the world. From that they have branched into specialty stores including mobile phones and networks with some 15 brands. They own hotel and resort properties as well.
While in Porto I was escorted on an extensive visit of the new Gold Level LEED Certified headquarters for Sonae Capital, as well as distribution centers, stores and a shopping center. What is evident is that Sonae has a real commitment to innovation, sustainability, and quality. They have a very deliberate strategy to encourage innovation throughout the company, and the FINOV conference is the annual culmination of that.
In my program I was asked to address both the longer-term megatrends, and specific trends and expectations in manufacturing and building supplies, mobile communications and IT, consumers and retail, tourism, and more.
Glen with CEO Paulo Azevedo on his right, Chairman Belmiro de Azevedo on his left, and Cathy O’Dowd, Mt. Everest climber and another speaker on the end.
The take-away for me was that Sonae is a company to pay attention to as a model of sustainability, and of building a culture of innovation.