Michel Doukeris: What Does a Purpose Statement Mean on a Deeper Level?
‘Perspectives’ is a joint project of The Beautiful Truth and Leaders on Purpose. During the 5th annual Leaders on Purpose CEO Summit this year, The Beautiful Truth conducted interviews with influential corporate leaders and thought leaders. The goal was to gain insight into their perspectives on purposeful business and answer the question: what actions should our businesses take in the current historical context?
Michel Doukeris is the CEO of Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev), the largest multinational beverage and brewing company by both volume and revenue.
After 25 years at AB InBev, Doukeris was named CEO in 2021. In just six months, he had redefined the company’s global purpose, reimagining who they are, why they exist and where they’re going.
“Purpose is this north star that guides everything that you do.”
This interview was condensed and edited for clarity.
Why is purpose so important?
We talk about our purpose as our North Star. The purpose of the company is a powerful idea that explains the what, where and why of everything that we do.
It frees us from the short term concerns that we have and helps us to disconnect from the pressures of the day to day.
It guides everything that you do, and gives us a way of checking if we are doing the right thing for the long term in a way that’s meaningful and impactful.
And as you get people engaged, they will unleash their creativity and productivity.
What is your company’s purpose?
After years of global expansion, we went back to the drawing board to think about what makes us different. It took some soul searching to find our purpose: “we dream big to create a future of more cheers.”
“Dreaming big” has always been an imprint in our DNA. And then the idea of “creating a future with more cheers” was about being active in shaping the future ahead of us. ‘Cheers’ is this incredible word that you can use everywhere because it’s universal, but it also means different things in different countries, from celebration to prosperity, inclusivity, equality.
Redefining our purpose was this incredible opportunity to get the company that I have been part of for 26 years, bring everything together from the foundation of the culture and the origins of the company to something that can last and take us to the next 100 years.
How is purpose channelled through different levels of the supply chain?
Our people are very engaged and we work to make sure that they continue to be ever more engaged over the years. People love to be engaged in something that’s bigger than themselves.
“People love to be engaged in something that’s bigger than themselves.”
That’s why the purpose and this idea of dreaming big is very important. They like to know that what they are doing is meaningful, and that their contribution to this purpose is measurable. That’s why we have our targets and our goals and our management system.
Then, they want to be rewarded for the work that they do. And the reward comes financially, but also in the recognition. The recipe is simple: it’s the right dream that’s engaging people, so they understand their collaboration and contribution to what we are doing in a measurable way, and then rewarding people for their hard work, recognising their contribution for the company.