When Tupperware Brands CFO Sandra Harris is asked what set her apart from the other CFO candidates who aspired to fill the finance leadership role at the iconic maker of food storage products, she doesn’t hesitate to mention that her previous leadership turn was not as a CFO, but as chief information officer for outdoor apparel and footwear manufacturer VF Corporation.Read More
It was there where Harris first climbed into the company’s leadership ranks from VF’s FP&A function, where she had become increasingly focused on the company’s quickly evolving global supply chain.
“VF was on a trajectory of going from $6 billion to $12 billion, and in order to do this, they needed to optimize their supply chain,” explains Harris, who along the way found herself overseeing VF’s procurement function—a position that made her the direct report for VF’s sourcing for all of Asia.
“Asia was one of our most complex businesses—it had every kind of retail channel, and it was because of my Asia experience that I was given more financial roles in the retail segment of the business as well as VF’s shared services,” recalls Harris, who credits her retail experience with having helped her to emerge as CIO and IT leader as she helped the company to forge a digital connection with its consumers.
At Tupperware, Harris has made “innovation through technology” a central theme of her 20-month CFO tenure.
“Until I arrived, we were really still taking orders by hand and using fax machines,” comments Harris, who says that the company’s rapid adoption of cloud-based tools and solutions paid big dividends in 2020 when, due to the pandemic, increasing numbers of consumers went looking for food safety and storage products as the number of home-cooked meals grew.
“We knew that we had to think more about the consumer and create a supply chain that could support what Amazon brought to the world, which was 2-day delivery,” adds Harris, who credits Tupperware’s technology investment with helping the company to pivot to a more digital world. –Jack Sweeney
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CFOTL: When you arrived, did you have to reorganize finance?
Harris: Yes. I would say that Tupperware’s finance function was more a traditional accounting function. When I came in, it was focused on external reporting, GAAP-based accounting, and managing closing the books and the records, but not a lot of FP&A or analytical understanding of the business or using those analytics to drive the business.
We recently organized a business and analytics team. We actually have hired someone who worked with this management team and another direct-seller who knows the power of unlocking the data and understanding the behaviors of our sales force. We’re now starting to take this data and put it into tools that will allow our business partners to really analyze what’s happening in their businesses, and this will help us to grow the business.Read More
We now understand the behaviors of our people and customers who are coming to buy our products, and we’re starting to approach them in ways in which they want to be approached versus our traditional methods.
One of my themes is building great teams, and I do believe that people make us successful, whether we’re companies or even on a personal level. People make us successful—the people with whom we surround ourselves. I now have the new responsibility of being the chief operating officer. I would say that on both the finance side and the operations side, my task is to really build a team. This is important to me because teams really do make us successful.
Value Quote: “We now understand the behaviors of our people and customers who are coming to buy our products, and we’re starting to approach them in ways in which they want to be approached versus our traditional methods.” jb
Tupperware Brands | www.tupperwarebrands.com | HQ: Orlando, Florida