Bridge Talks: Scott Northcutt on Employee Engagement

On 2nd June, Scott Northcutt, Senior VP of HR at Bacardi Limited joined BridgeTalks to present “Inside the Brand DNA of Employee Engagement”. Scott has over 20 years’ experience in HR, with previous positions held at Walmart and DHL. He joined BridgeTalks to give insight into Bacardi’s successful people strategy.

To give some background, Bacardi is the largest privately-held spirits company in the world. It began as a family-run business in 1862 and to this day has survived fire, earthquake, prohibition, civil war and exile from Cuba. Throughout all this, people have been the key to Bacardi’s success, with family values close to its heart. With 8,000 employees in 160 markets; Bacardi now incorporates brands such as Martini, Grey Goose, and St Germain to name a few.

Guests were welcomed with Mojitos, Martinis and St Germain cocktails at registration and finished off their drinks to be ushered into the Courthouse Hotel’s private cinema. Dale Smith, Director of Creation at Bridge Training & Events began the BridgeTalk with his introduction. He spoke on brand and storytelling, and how for employees to really engage with an organisation, they need to be part of the story. Reflecting on Bacardi’s history, he explained to delegates that stories stretch out from the past into the future, and that success needs to be celebrated.

“A really great brand story in the now is like being a great futurologist and a great historian,” said Dale.

Scott then kicked off his talk by setting the questions for the evening: What is engagement, how do you know if you’ve got it, what can you do to get it and how do you keep it?

After introducing himself and the company, Scott introduced the “Virtuous Cycle of Sustainable Success” whereby enablement and engagement are self-sustaining. Scott went on to talk about Values-Based Performance. Here he drew some formulaic conclusions:

P + V = Y

If a person performs and has our Values, that is who we want and should build around.

P – V = N

The person performs but does not have the Values or fit for the Company. Then they need to leave the organisation.

V – P = ?

The person has the Values but is not currently performing. It is the responsibility of the organisation to check for job fit, see if the person is aware of the issue, offer coaching and training. These options should be explored before deciding what to do, but the person ultimately needs to perform.

Scott then gave delegates a taste of Bacardi’s recipe for success; how they achieve engagement.

He explained, “There are no silver bullets, it’s more a cocktail of different ingredients that satisfy the “taste profile” of your employees.”

Making Bacardi the place to be is one Scott’s directives as VP of HR. There have been many programmes implemented to support this, and Scott touched on a few; such as Living Legends, Talent Exchange, Step Up, Rising Stars and Winning at Bacardi.

In summary, Scott’s top 10 tips for engaged employees are:

  1. 1. Communication : Consistent, transparent and authentic
  2. 2. Values Based Performance
  3. 3. Ability to Make a Difference
  4. 4. Visible & Approachable leadership
  5. 5. Development Including Career & Succession Planning
  6. 6. Recognition – as an Accelerator
  7. 7. Make Tough Calls
  8. 8. Social Responsibility
  9. 9. Break down Barriers – Speed Decision Making
  10. 10. Have Fun

Finally, after a Q & A session, St Germain Brand Ambassador Camille gave delegates the opportunity to learn how to make one of the three cocktails they tasted at registration. This was a big hit at the networking reception with guests enjoying candid chat with Scott while sipping on martinis, mojitos and St Germain cocktails.

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