Nestlé Taps Top Students to Fuel Innovation Drive
A chocolate or vanilla-flavored drink with chia seeds, twist and shake stackable flavored tumblers, and an ice cream shop for Gen Z. These were the top three innovative ideas that the brightest students from leading universities nationwide presented to the NiMCom at the culmination of this year’s MILE program on October 28, which gave the Company’s leaders valuable insights into the preferences and inclinations of the post-Millennial Generation Z.
MILE, which stands for Management Immersion for Leadership Excellence, is a flagship program of the Company for attracting young and promising talents. It aims to engage select students from top schools in a program that immerses them in the Nestlé business, values and principles, mission and vision, and Creating Shared Value Initiatives. The theme for this 8th year of the program focused on “Unlocking Excellence for Leaders and Movers.”
The brains behind the innovative ideas were the winning 6-man teams in the MILE program’s ultimate contest. Awarded 1st place was Team sMILE for its idea to produce NESTLÉ B-Fast Chocolate or Vanilla-flavored drink with Chia Seeds. Placing 2nd was Team MILEEnnial, which proposed the idea of NesCap Match, Twist, and Shake Stackable Flavored Tumblers. At 3rd place was Team NESTLÉRS, which created the concept for Nest Z Ice Cream Shop.
Their presentations were judged by a panel composed of Communication and Marketing Services Director Paolo Mercado, Business Executive Manager of Liquid Beverages and Dairy Culinary Joey Uy, 3CBU Nestlé Continuous Excellence Lead Paul Macasling, and Customer Business Team Lead for Mercury Drug Dindin San Diego.
Chairman and CEO Jacques Reber commended the winners and applauded all the MILEes for doing an excellence job. He said, “I hope you had a chance to discover and imbibe the Nestlé values, which is what makes the big difference for our Company.”
From 800 to 36
Members of the winning teams were part of the 36 students who made it to the main part of the program, which was a three-day instensive leadersip and business course held at the Discovery Primea in Makato City from October 26 to 28. These 36 MILEes were selected from 60 pre-screened students who underwent Group Simulation exercises at Nestlé Center on September 29.
Twelve of the 36 came from schools in the provinces, which was a deliberate choice by Nestlé to ensure diversity. These were from St. Paul University in Tuguegarao, Holy Angel University in Pampanga, University of San Carlos in Cebu, Silliman University in Dumaguete, Xavier University-Ateneo De Cagayan in Cagayan De Oro, and Central Mindanao University. The rest of the schools represented in the MILE program were University of Santo Tomas, De La Salle University-Manila, Ateneo De Manila University, University of the Philippines-Diliman, University of Asia and the Pacific, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, and De La Salle College of St. Benilde.
All told, Nestlé received 800 applicants from various universities across the country. This was the first time the program accepted applications from PWD (Persons with Disabilities) students, including Aileen Sibal of St. Benilde School of Deaf Education, who made it to the final 36.
Going for Gen Z
“What makes this year’s MILE unique was how we used to Design Thinking to ask the first GEN Z graduates to help Nestlé find ways to make their generation’s lives better. We did this from the group simulations all the way to the final presentation,” said Innovation and Renovation Manager Erik Tan. “The challenge in previous batches was to crunch out great ideas in three days. This year, we asked the MILEes to take a deep dive through three weekly missions prior to the actual event, enabling them to provide us with a comprehensive view.”
Erik observed that the weekly missions allowed the participants to fully engage with the GEN Z counterparts. He said, “From the empathy interviews to the immersion activities, they were able to meet people their age from different backgrounds, locations and perspectives, and find out about their pain points. This forced them to think not just from a marketing point of view but also from technical, sales, and financial perspectives, with each week having a different focus.”
Throughout the process, the six teams of 36 MILEes were coached by their Nestlé mentors: Revo De Guzman, Leslie Tseng, Merian Paz, Boyet Lao, Kakam Gabunada, Flor Mateo, Nikki Sugay, Bing Rubia, Johann Ang, Pearl Ponce, Mark Mitra, and Bianca Wong. Through Facebook, the MILEes were able to work closely with their respective coaches and teammates answering questions, giving feedback, and pushing them to think innovatively to find creative solutions.
The MILEes got total immersion in the Company’s value chain during the actual three-day event. They were exposed to Technical and Supply Chain operations at Tanauan factory, learned about the history of the company and stories of the Nestlé brands, and witnessed first-hand how the Company’s CSV initiatives have improved lives as they visited the coffee demo farm at LICC and talked with Nestlé Professional BOWers on field.
“I think the coaches would agree with me when I say that we too really got to be immersed in the MILEes’ presentations and in their GEN Z world as well,” said Erik. “We knew we really were seeing a different generation when almost 80% of them developed apps instead of products during their group simulations. It was a unique experience for us, not just as Nestlé but as a different generation, to and think with them for almost a month.”
The MILE 2016 organizing committee was composed of Pauline Comia, Bianca Bailon, Hannah de Lumen, Gracy Dandan, Malayne Dy, Ed Dy, Marian Rosaldo, Kart Espiritu, Chlods Manguerra, Sheena Caras, Anj Que, Seph Garcia, sarah Lopez-Pozas, Hensie Go, Pixie Eraña, and Erik Tan. The program was also made possible in collaboration with Corporate Affairs, Tanauan Factory, Supply Chain Management, Sales, Nestlé Professional, the Business Units (DHNS, 3CBU, LBDC, Food and Beverages), and the NiMCom.