As part of my series about the “How Business Leaders Plan to Rebuild In The Post COVID Economy,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Helene Caillate.
Helene is the Chief Marketing Officer at GoGo squeeZ and a mother of 3. She has been with GoGo squeeZ since 2013.
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I have a background in food and innovation. I started at HJ Heinz back in France where I am from originally. While there, I learned about branding and product development, but what I found most interesting was the story behind our food, where it comes from, what it does for your health and happiness, and how our food supply is connected to farming and ultimately to our ecosystem. My passion for innovation, nutrition, children and caring for our environment has guided my personal and professional life. This educational journey has led me to GoGo squeeZ where I have been for the last 7 years.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
Early in my career, I had to create fun promotional cardboard hats for bottles. The hats ended up being a nightmare for the production team to execute and not great for the people who were replenishing the shelves. It taught me to be thoughtful of others when planning projects.
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to, that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
The amazing book from Simon Sinek, “Start with Why”, was like a light bulb for me. His articulation of what “purpose” is, with his definition of the “WHY?” are so impactful. The WHY is to know why you do what you do, it’s not about making money. That’s the result. It’s a purpose, cause or belief. It’s the very reason your organization exists.
I also read and listen to many thought leaders on sustainability and climate change to understand how best to address this critical issue. I try to read a variety of opinions to inform my own. My most recent reading is “More from Less” by Andrew McAfee.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven business” are more successful in many areas. When you started your company what was your vision, your purpose?
When GoGo squeeZ started it brought together a group of people who deeply believed in the power of nutritious clean food, as well as an active lifestyle to make kids healthier and happier.
At that time, my team and I were all kids at heart — wanting to create an imaginative, playful, and active experience for kids to be healthy. That’s how we started growing GoGo squeeZ — packing the nutrition of fruit, veggies, yogurt and oat into our portable pouch format. Kids can just grab it to play and explore the world around them.
This is still our vision today.
Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?
“Do the right thing”
Thank you for all that. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. For the benefit of empowering our readers, can you share with our readers a few of the personal and family related challenges you faced during this crisis? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
This pandemic has impacted my life in many ways.
Here are few examples of challenges I faced and what I have been doing to address them.
- The first one was to make the right safety decisions for my family and for our business.
- Trusting the scientific experts. Understanding the facts has been helpful to decide what safety measures I needed to implement personally and professionally.
- Working from home:
- This has all been about organization and patience. Getting organized as much as possible during the day and working during down times when my kids didn’t need me, like at night or super early in the morning, during the week or weekend, has been helpful.
- Creating a calm and happy space for my children during this very troubling time.
- At first, the news and what they were hearing and witnessing around them was overwhelming. When this all started and we got a call from the school that my daughter had to be quarantined, she came to me and said: “it’s too bad it’s the end of the world because I’m only 11.” It was a little dramatic, but it showed how she felt. Therefore, it was important for me to stay positive, calm, and transform this into an opportunity to be together and do things we never had time to do before. I’m sure that one day I will look back at those months and remember those unique moments when I painted a dolphin and a turtle on the wall with my daughter or when I read those mystery books to my son, or went on bike rides with all three of my children. Finding some peace during this trying time has been important to my family and me.
Can you share a few of the biggest work-related challenges you are facing during this pandemic? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
Keeping my team engaged when we are all apart, working remotely and facing all sorts of difficult experiences has been a challenge.
I have changed our ways of working — now we connect virtually every day. We communicate a lot on our business objectives and upcoming projects so that there is a high level of transparency. We also make time for team building activities, whether it’s games or just connecting as a team. Everyone has been supportive of each other and compassionate. Caring for each other while keeping our work on track is getting us through it.
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. What are a few ideas that you have used to offer support to your family and loved ones who were feeling anxious? Can you explain?
Using social media platforms to stay connected. My family and friends get together virtually for fun, particularly for all the special occasions when we couldn’t be together in person. What I also found helpful was sharing pictures of our lives during quarantine. Some were funny, some sad but it captured our emotions in the moment.
Obviously we can’t know for certain what the Post-Covid economy will look like. But we can of course try our best to be prepared. We can reasonably assume that the Post-Covid economy will be a trying time for many people across the globe. Yet at the same time the Post-Covid growth can be a time of opportunity. Can you share a few of the opportunities that you anticipate in the Post-Covid economy?
This pandemic has been a shock for all of us around the world. It makes me realize how we are all so vulnerable. There is a shift of mindset and an acknowledgement that we must create a more inclusive, resilient, and sustainable world.
This crisis makes it urgent for the world to come together to address the big issues of our time:
- Poverty and hunger
- Inequality and exclusion
- Climate change, biodiversity loses
- A broken healthcare system
- Distrust of science
- A lack of worldwide collaboration to solve issues
After World War II, governments came together to rebuild the future. This pandemic will require a similar collaboration to stop the virus and rebuild the economy. Scientific experts will be back at the forefront of the discussion to inform how we transform our economy to be carbon neutral and to restore our planet for future generations.
Businesses will have to consider people and the planet alongside profit to make their decisions — with a greater focus on environmental and social governance.
People’s mindset and priorities will be shifting towards more spirituality, a greater need of belonging, and deeper appreciation of the critical role our ecosystem plays.
The current situation is also creating large scale experiments on many fronts:
- Advancing the topic of working remotely. We are seeing a reinvention of the workplace for more flexibility and a better work life balance
- Driving an even faster digital transformation, boosted by the rise of digital behaviors, for example, online shopping and increased usage of all social media platforms
- A deeper focus on business resiliency throughout the supply chain
I truly hope we will also see a transformation of our health care system and deeper appreciation of front-line workers and all the functions that keep our community strong.
How do you think the COVID pandemic might permanently change the way we behave, act or live?
I think we will all be more worried about our safety and livelihood.We will have a greater appreciation of simple things in life that may have been taken for granted, such as being free to travel and be with the ones we love.
Considering the potential challenges and opportunities in the Post-Covid economy, what do you personally plan to do to rebuild and grow your business or organization in the Post-Covid Economy?
Our business mission is to make it easier for kids and families to be healthier and happier every day. I will keep working on making nutritious food available to a greater number of people and use our business as a force for good to support our community. A top consideration will be people and the planet alongside profit in the governance of our business.
Similarly, what would you encourage others to do?
I would encourage others to pick a topic that is close to their heart and what is most important to them to become actors of change — be and create what they want to see. We all have our part to play to pass on a better world to our children.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?My life lesson quote that I also tell my children is: “Nothing is impossible” (you just need to dream big and work hard).
I have had ups and downs in my life. I have found that when I connect with my passion and am resilient, I achieve success and overcome the most complicated challenges. Like a kid, believe that nothing is impossible, open your mind to new territories and greater problem solving.
How can our readers further follow your work?