Casey Richards leading a growth-minded team

Casey leads our new growth-oriented center of excellence called Accelerateand shares his vision for a collaborative environment that allows his team to think differently about how to drive growth in the future of Maple Leaf Foods

Casey Richards joined the Maple Leaf Foods family six years ago as general manager of our confectionery business and later became senior vice president of marketing and innovation. In December 2022, Casey was named President and Chief Growth Officer and appointed to lead our new growth-focused center of excellence Accelerate.

Accelerate brings together four distinct disciplines in our company: data-driven insights and analytics, innovation & new food and packaging technologies, brand marketing, and e-commerce and the digital consumer experience.

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Accelerate The goal is to support the growth of our core business while opening up new capabilities and new avenues to accelerate growth. Casey wants to help write the next chapter of Maple Leaf Foods with his food expertise and empowering leadership style.

You have quickly risen to an important management position in our company. What has your career at Maple Leaf Foods taught you about leadership? How was your career at Maple Leaf Foods?

I truly believe that when you surround yourself with great people and align yourself with a clear direction and really trust those people to do their job, leadership becomes pretty easy and results follow.

I know that Maple Leaf Foods is truly blessed to have an immensely talented group of people dedicated to this company and its success. They hunger to feel empowered to make a difference in everyday life. Enabling them to do this has helped me be successful so far.

Your new role recognizes your strength as a great leader – how have you developed these leadership qualities throughout your career?

I have a personal philosophy that I want to be the kind of leader I want to work for. So I try to stick to it and review my own behavior as a leader.

But I also firmly believe that you should be able to take both good and bad from every manager. I’ve tried to make it a habit throughout my career for every person I report to or leaders I’ve met to take notes on the things I’d like to emulate. And I’ve tried to apply these to my own leadership roles over time.

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Go on Accelerate — How did Maple Leaf Foods come up with the concept for Accelerate? What can you tell about the origins of it?

At Maple Leaf Foods, we manage a large, complex business down to the smallest detail. This sometimes makes it difficult for us to focus on the future and our growth. We are sometimes caught up in the challenges of the moment. The idea behind it Accelerate was to pull out of the business some disciplines that are particularly important for growth and make room for them to drive external focus and define new growth paths. We want these people to come every day and think differently about how we want to grow this business in the future.

These disciplines will obviously continue to support the core of the business. But the split is meant to create some space so they can focus more on the future and not just the moment.

They hinted that the idea is behind it Accelerate is to promote synergies within and between the disciplines. Can you explain how it will drive these synergies?

The four different disciplines within Accelerate are data-driven insights and analysis, innovation & new food and packaging technologies, brand marketing, and e-commerce and the digital consumer experience. These are distinct roles led by leaders with expertise in these areas, but they are also strongly interconnected.

For example, effective innovation improves your ability to grow your brands. How you present yourself in the digital space depends on how effective your branding is. Reliable insights and analyzes play a major role in the development of successful innovations or effective brand campaigns.

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The idea behind it Accelerate They’re all on the same team now. While disciplines and responsibilities differ, there is potential for cross-fertilization in driving synergies between these “growth-driving disciplines”.

What impact do you want in five years? Accelerate available from this company?

We have stated that we believe we have reached a small inflection point in our journey as a company to evolve from a traditional manufacturing company into a growth-oriented branded CPG company. We are moving from the so-called transformation phase to what we hope will now be a phase where we can use a strong foundation to drive sustainable growth.

I would like to believe that Accelerate will play a crucial role in realizing this vision.

Can you tell something about your family?

People might be surprised to learn that I’m American. I was born and raised in the USA and moved here with my family last August. I really love it here and I hope to be here for some more time. I brought my wife, our dog and two of my four children and the other two are studying in the US

Maple Leaf Foods places great emphasis on work-life balance. Given the scope of your responsibilities, how do you achieve a balance?

There are two things I would identify. First, I try very hard not to take on the responsibilities of others, which is often a temptation for leaders. I trust my team to do the work they are responsible for and try not to be busy with everything every moment of every day.

Second, setting personal boundaries is also very important. This includes things like not checking my email on certain days or times, or not replying if it can wait until tomorrow. I think we get the feeling that everything has to be done all the time. Certainly there are occasions when you need to transcend some of your own limitations. But I think it’s really important to define those and then stick to them as best you can.

If we walked into your living room now, what unusual or interesting item would we find?

In our living room was an Aztec calendar from our experience when my family lived in Mexico City. It was just a great experience and challenging in many ways but really rewarding and interesting. Not only did we bring an Aztec calendar, we also brought an authentic Mexican Chihuahua – and our youngest child, who was also born there.

What hobby do you have that could surprise the company?

About a year ago I started looking into 3D printing. I find it really tickles an itch I have for perfection and trying to constantly tweak things. It’s just fun to watch these things build from the ground up, basically layer by layer, and the tiniest imperfection can ruin everything that comes after. I think there’s a business hour in there somewhere.

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