Girl Power at Mars Belgium: Ellen Jacobs (L) and Annemie Huenaerts (R)
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#eachforequal #womensday #tomorrowstartstoday
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Dream it, do it: Women @ Mars
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Two Dreamers reveal how they make tomorrow start today
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The world we want tomorrow starts with how we do business today. We’ve heard, communicated and celebrated our new purpose plenty of times this past year and many of us actively support this simple yet layered vision. But it made us wonder: besides the world Mars strives for as a company, what kind of world do our Associates want? And how do they act to make that world come to life? In celebration of  International Women's Day, we talked to two of our female colleagues on how they are working today on creating a better tomorrow.

1. Giving ànd taking opportunities

Annemie (34), manager Out Of Home. Employed at Mars for 13 years now.  (Pictured on the right hand side)

People and traveling: these are the things that touch Annemie most. It’s a sense of responsibility that drives her. “Make mistakes like everyone does, and learn from them.”

It’s been 13 years since Annemie came straight from school to work at Mars. After nine years in sales and two in marketing, she felt the time was right to finally realise one of her other ambitions. She mustered the courage to take the plunge, safe in the knowledge that Mars would offer her a different position upon her return. “In 2017, my now fiancé and I went off on a round-the-world trip to Australia, Fiji and New Zealand. It was a phenomenal experience, from which we learned an enormous amount. It taught me that we have so much to be thankful for, and to exercise patience… with others ànd myself. After a few months I was hankering after an intellectual challenge again.”

Today, she works as manager Out Of Home in Brussels - covering all “non-supermarket” points of sale where Mars products are to be found, such as petrol stations, newsagents, vending machines, amusement parks and cinemas - and leads a diverse team of 11 individuals. “I have a sense of responsibility for every one of those people and their families. For their growth and wellbeing. ‘Ego’ is not a word that finds favour with me. And I expect others to behave similarly. Not glossing over their mistakes and shifting the blame onto someone else. Make mistakes like everyone else and learn from them, show others respect, express gratitude and be upright. I believe that there’s a close link between responsibility and freedom. You can’t have one without the other. These are two of the core values at Mars that I cherish in my workplace and that I also want to hand down to my children.”

Annemie calls a spade a spade. She exudes calm, intelligence and gentleness. She’s a woman who knows what’s what. She leads, and she listens. “In 2013, I engaged in the Mars Ambassador Programme and went to give a week’s training course on leadership to women farmers in India. How they battle to combine family and work, without ever getting any real break in life, it makes you stop and think. About the chances we’re given here and about what it is to be a woman in the world. We take for granted so much that others cannot even dream of.”

“I am no dreamer. If you want something, you have to go for it.” A momentary pause; she swallows. “Except when I think of my children. Some things are beyond our control. I hope they can achieve happiness, that opportunity will knock at their door and that they’ll always be free. That they realise just how incredibly good we have it.” She ponders for a second or two. About leadership and being a mother. “Good housewives go home at night and bake cupcakes, don’t they? (She laughs.) I can’t do that. Having and making time for everyone, at home and at work: that I can do.”

2. Moving for a better world, eyes a-glitter

Ellen (42), Corporate Affairs Communication Manager Cocoa. Joined Mars 19 years ago. (Pictured on the left hand side) 

Whenever Ellen enters the room, she brings the sunshine in with her. In part the legacy of her younger days spent in Africa, but in equal measure it comes from the fire that burns within her and drives her in her work. “Principles are there to be applied: at home, at work, without exception.”

Ellen grew up with her parents, sisters and brother in Rwanda. It’s the reason she loves padding around barefoot and gets goose bumps when it rains as the rising odours transport her back into her past. It was obvious that she would end up in development cooperation, or so she thought, but that was before studies in Romanesque languages, international relations and conflict management brought her to Mars. “I had a temping post at customer services and thought: ‘I won’t last a week at a multinational like this.’ Nineteen years on and here I still am. In Communications and proof positive that, with plenty of passion, you can achieve anything your heart desires.”

It’s been just over a year since she took up her current position, in which she articulates and helps win global acceptance for long-term programs in the fascinating and, indeed, confronting world of the cacao value chain. “Telling a story” is what she herself calls it. A good storyteller must possess passion and belief. They lie at the core of this mover for a better world, her eyes all a-glitter. She shan’t hold her tongue; but she does get you to stop and think again.

"I am very enthusiastic about the work, despite its occasional frustrations. Mars’ motto, “the world we want tomorrow starts with how we do business today”, encapsulates it to the core. For generations, Mars has been steadfastly committed to sustainable cacao farming, but progress is all too slow. That has to change, now!  Cacao cultivation is very intensive. A hundred thousand smallholders farming their little plantations for a livelihood. There is help, but there is still too much poverty. You can’t bring about change on your own. You can do it with government, partners, NGOs and so on. Even when you’ve worked towards a common objective, everyone still has their own agenda. They also have their own responsibilities. From the small to the big. From not using plastic any more and taking blitz showers to being part of my team here. Mutuality is my keyword. I believe in working hard and giving as much as you can. That way things will come to you of their own volition. But don’t stand waiting for them: that’s the path to disappointment.

“My dream is a simple one: I want to be able to eat a Mars® bar and know that that the men and women who devoted so much time to producing this candy bar – across the entire supply chain – are also able to enjoy their lives and get schooling for their kids.

 

Mars Belgium teamed up with The Dreamers, a duo comprised of a journalist and a photographer. They try to paint a picture with only a one hour conversation and an old skool camera as their tools, with dreams and goals as the main topic of conversation. They interacted with two of our Associates to see what kind of world they dream about. This is their impression.

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