While the U.S. is enjoying its third longest economic expansion since 1850, many multinational companies continue to struggle with stagnating growth. As chief counsel of global marketing and media at Mondelez International, one of the world’s largest snack food companies, Mary A. Carragher operates with a growth mindset. She leads the Center of Expertise (COE) for Marketing, Media, and Marketing Services as well as one for Global Brands and Product Innovation — both of which enable legal to play a pivotal role in driving growth initiatives.
“I have multiple opportunities to drive growth and collaborate with my legal partners across the company,” Carragher points out. “These roles provide opportunities to build relationships with key senior marketing, media, and growth platform stakeholders, and provide valuable insights into business priorities and strategic direction.”
Carragher, who will speak at the annual Association of National Advertisers’s Law & Public Policy Conference, March 15-16 in Washington, D.C., shares more perspective on the two centers.
Q. What is the purpose of each COE you lead, and why are they important growth drivers for the company?
A. The Global Brands and Product Innovation COE directly supports innovation platform projects. By coordinating and resolving legal issues, the Center enables innovation to happen faster, which drives growth and business efficiency. The Global Marketing, Media, and Marketing Services COE drives growth by providing legal support on key global marketing initiatives.
It identifies best practices and standardizes ways of working cross-functionally to effectively manage initiatives on a global, regional, and local basis. These COEs are important growth drivers because they enable the legal function to support initiatives across regions, providing key stakeholders with one single point of legal contact, reducing duplication, and bringing consistency through the global coordination of projects.
Q. What insight led to the COE concept, and how are the Centers structured/organized to drive growth?
A. The COEs were established several years ago, initially as working groups to develop best practices in new areas such as social media and data privacy and to support recurring work streams such as corporate restructuring. They have since evolved into a more structured and business-focused service delivery model, where members, despite not having a direct-line report to the COE leads, have COE-related objectives tied to their annual goals. COEs were created using an organizational matrix approach to break down hierarchies by providing a supplemental support system that nimbly adjusts to evolving business needs and strategic directions.
The COEs consist of representatives from our global headquarters and all regions, as well as both legal and communications experts. They serve a variety of purposes, such as global communications, legal/corporate affairs practice areas, and business support. In addition, cross-collaboration among COEs extends their reach and expertise to comprehensively support initiatives.
Q. How do you ensure collaboration with your legal partners across the company?
A. We have ongoing collaboration through our full COE monthly meetings, where we connect on various projects and discuss initiatives. In between those monthly meetings, the various sub-groups meet regularly as a team and with business partners to progress projects, address issues, and share results. We ensure collaboration with our broader corporate and legal affairs colleagues in a variety of ways, including by posting our deliverables on the functional Yammer page.
For specific business projects, COE members are tasked with collaborating with country and regional counsel in their regions to validate the work product to ensure global compliance and consistency. They also facilitate connections with specific country legal counsel, regulatory, and/or corporate affairs to support in-country initiatives. Finally, all COE leads are members of the department Leadership Council, which meets regularly with the department’s leadership team.
Q. Please share an example of how the COE structure has benefitted the organization. How do you measure success?
A. One example of how the COE structure benefits the organization is the direct business support it provides to product innovation projects. The COE helps streamline legal support of projects by appointing a single legal project lead, who connects directly with the marketing lead. This provides access to and coordination of all legal issues related to the project, from Freedom to Operate under patent law and trademark search and clearance to preliminary claims and artwork review.
As a result, when the product reaches legal in a launch country, the key questions and issues have already been addressed. Another example is the global rollout of an integrated marketing campaign for a global brand like Oreo, such as the Oreo Dunk Challenge. The global marketing COE establishes a sub-group to support and manage the project with regional legal representatives so that when the program is ready to launch in any given country, the issues have been vetted and addressed. For these projects we measure success by the ability of the business to quickly execute its initiatives once it gets “in country.”
Q. How else does legal support growth initiatives at Mondelez?
A. The company fuels growth through a category model. So the legal function has established a dedicated regional category counsel that partners with marketing to execute programs by country/region and by dedicated teams and through our global IP team, which supports global, regional, and country lead projects with a structure that leverages functional expertise and streamlined service delivery.