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Otsuka People Talk

March 2013

CEO of Nutrition & Santé SAS (a subsidiary of Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.)

Otsuka encourages initiative taking and risk taking, and pushes all employees to make a personal difference.

Didier Suberbielle has been CEO of the health and nutritional foods company Nutrition & Santé since 2006. His earlier career was also notable as he was the CEO of companies in several different industries. He is a graduate of HEC Paris.

  • In collaboration with NHK Enterprises, Inc.

About Nutrition & Santé

Nutrition & Santé is a company which is growing fast, bringing products to consumers to make their lives better.

Experience as a CEO in different industries

My background has been very diverse. I worked for an American company in the fast-moving consumer goods area for about 10 years, then moved to the champagne industry for another 10 years, and was the CEO of a famous champagne brand. Following that, I became the CEO of a fashion & luxury goods magazine publishing company. Then, here I am now in the nutraceutical business, with Nutrition & Santé, again quite different!

I certainly enjoy working for a company which is bringing products to consumers to make their lives better - it's a genuinely important mission. When you work 24/7 you want to make sure that you are making a positive difference in the world and environment around you, and I really feel that this is what I am doing here.

Shared missions and values with Otsuka

Otsuka is the best shareholder for the Nutrition & Santé Group that we could imagine. There are several reasons for this.

Firstly, it's a global company. At the same time, Otsuka understands that consumer preferences differ by country or continent, and respects Nutrition & Santé's own internal identity and the differences in the local food environment.

Secondly, Otsuka is well established and still growing, and has the financial resources to accommodate our growth needs. Our company is growing too, and we need to invest in industrial tools, and in communication and promotion activities. Otsuka is also helping us to acquire the necessary human and financial resources needed to fuel this growth.

Finally, I would say that the Otsuka mission is fully in line with the Nutrition & Santé mission. Since the beginning, Nutrition & Santé has been devoted to bringing health products to consumers worldwide, but also a company focused on innovation and creativity. These two values are also found at the core of Otsuka's values and mission.

Childhood and early career

As I child I don't think I was so different from the person I am today. I'm still extremely spontaneous and playful, I do like to take risks in everyday life, and I still enjoy many of the things that I did when I was 12.

The key element when finding your first job

The key element that guided me when I was trying to find my first job was to learn. I think really when you start your first job, just after university, you basically know nothing. You know nothing about company life, corporate life. You know nothing about consumers, how to do business, and how to generate value. And frankly, the first element that guided me was that I wanted a company that could teach me a bit of everything. I've been lucky because I worked in a big, foreign company which gave me an international mindset, and which also due to its size could invest in me as a manager and train me in many areas. So, I would advise any new graduate to carefully consider companies of this kind - big and international.

Respecting the company's history while bringing new momentum

I have been managing this company for six years, and was the successor to the founder who had stayed for more than 35 years. In that situation, I had to replace somebody who not only created Nutrition & Santé as a company, but also was the heart and soul of it for 35 years. Therefore, I had to first provide continuity from the creator and at the same time bring new blood, because the company needed a new impetus and new momentum. Finding the right balance between continuity and change has been the most difficult challenge to overcome.

Doing something that nobody else has done

My experience with Otsuka has shown me that it is clearly a company where individuals can make a difference, and because of that I would encourage jobseekers to consider joining the company. Decisions don't all come from the top, and it's not the case that everybody simply has to adapt to the senior management's ideas. On the contrary, Otsuka encourages initiative and risk taking, and pushes all employees to make a personal difference. It's certainly a place where you will do something that nobody else would have done except you.

From champagne and supermodels to healthy biscuits

While beautiful models can in a way make people's lives better, I would say that it is probably a more selfish pleasure than the pleasure that consumers can feel by being healthy. Our company mission of bringing better health to the world is something that everybody likes to do, and I certainly enjoy it.

Strong teamwork at Nutrition & Santé

Teamwork is very strong at Nutrition & Santé. I have had the luck to be surrounded by very professional people - people with skills which are quite unique - and I think we have bonded very well. The kind of unity we feel is helping our company grow; it really makes a difference, and in my view is the secret for the success of the company today.

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