Among all of what is remarkable about Andreas Schulmeyer’s finance career, the timing with which he enters and exits different career chapters is most worthy of some added attention.
For instance, consider his timing at Pepsico, where in the late 1990s he arrived inside Pepsi’s corporate strategy group—the beverage behemoth’s performance-minded brain trust headed by none other than Pepsi up-and-comer Indra Nooyi. It’s just this type of timing that makes you doubt that Schulmeyer ever has had to cross-examine himself by deploying a few “If onlys … .”
To prove our point, we thought that we might speculate on what such a self-inquiry by Schulmeyer might sound like, so here goes:
“If only … I had been part of Nooyi’s group when it helped to hatch Pepsi’s historic acquisition of Quaker Oats.” But wait: I was part of that very group.
“Well, if only … I had agreed to join Pepsi China Beverages as CFO when Hong Kong’s sovereignty was transferred to the People’s Republic of China.” But wait: I was CFO of Pepsi China Beverages when Hong Kong was handed over to China.
“Well, then, if only … I had agreed to join Walmart’s e-commerce business as CFO, today I would be a seasoned C-level e-commerce executive with a wealth of experience.” But wait: I was CFO of Walmart’s e-commerce business.
Finally, one “if only” of our own: “If only we had told you how truly remarkable Schulmeyer’s career has been.” But wait: We just did. –Jack Sweeney jb
Guest: Andreas Schulmeyer
Company: Better Choice Company
Headquarters: New York, NY
CFOTL: When you arrived inside the CFO office at Walmart’s e-commerce business, did you face a significant learning curve?
Schulmeyer: Getting up to speed wasn’t that much of a challenge for me. Instead, it was about asking the right questions regarding what we were doing and why we were doing things, which then led to bigger discussions later on. When you think of retail, the conventional wisdom is: You build it and they will come, which is why people talk about real estate in retail. If you don’t put your store in the right location, you’re kind of dead in the water—versus an e-commerce model, which is a very different play. It’s almost all variable. You have a very different P&L structure that you have to explain in e-commerce. And you have to understand that things don’t happen until the customer really buys something. You need to get the consumer to buy something, and then you need to execute against that purchase—versus a store environment, where almost everything happens before the consumer buys. So how does that change the P&L? What are the things that you have to look at? By not having been an e-commerce retailer—but by having 20 years of retail history—I could approach the P&L and tell the greater organization: “Look, we’ve got to do things very differently in e-commerce and we can’t behave the same way that we do on the store side. It just doesn’t lead to the right conclusions, so you’ve got to trust that we know what we’re doing here and that we’re going to do it differently from the way you do it.” jb