IIC Partners

By IIC Partners
July 4, 2013

Gilberto Orsato has spent his entire career with the same company. Starting out in the industrial processing part of the business in 1980, he then moved to chilled foods before joining the HR division in 2007 as a director and was appointed VP of HR in 2010, with overall global responsibility for 115,000 employee across 60 countries, 60 industrial plants in Brazil and four overseas, 36 distribution centers and 24 global offices. BRF is Brazil's second largest company and the world's 10th largest food producer.

Q. What keeps you where you are? For 33 years you've worked for the same company.

A. "I'm very proud of that. Since the beginning of my career, I've strongly identified with the company and it has always offered me many opportunities, hence the enduring relationship."

Q. What attracted you to HR?

A. "For many years I managed teams of very large numbers of people and I've always felt attracted to HR. When I was invited in 2007, I was flattered. HR is a fantastic, really enchanting area. A company's results are generated by its people, and they need to feel good and be able to understand the meaning of what they do in order to perform their activities as well as possible.

"For us, a leader must be a role model in terms of people management. Leading by the example is the most important thing not only for us, HR leaders, but it is something we disseminate to all BRF leaders."

Q. You believe innovation is key in HR - can you explain why?

A. "Innovation is key in any area, in any company. We have great HR challenges, such as a shortage of staffing, for example, which demands ever-more creative solutions. For example, increasingly using social networks to search for applicants, using itinerant recruitment, that is, bringing people from other regions to work in our units, and encouraging employees to recommend others to work with us. That requires planning, organization, being aware of the market and devising innovative solutions. Innovation is something encouraged at BRF."

Q. How does BRF's size, multi-territory structure and diverse product offerings impact on HR strategy?

A. "At a corporate level, HR should maintain the governance and standards of its programs. But it is very important that managers and teams get involved to put HR strategy into practice, in line with the company's strategy, based on the following assumptions: spreading and establishing the BRF Culture; developing our employees by offering them opportunities and challenges; strengthening our leaders by empowering them and providing management tools; encouraging a global company vision while understanding and respecting cultural differences; committing to an HSE culture by establishing health, safety and environment assumptions."

Q. What are BRF's values?

A. "In 2011, we set new values, which translate our culture very well: Integrity is the foundation of our relations, we focus on our consumers, respect and develop people, seek high performance, offer quality products and process excellence, a spirit of constant innovation, we seek sustainable development, we have a global vision with local speed, and strong commitment to diversity and acceptance of differences."

Q. How do you create a single company culture with such a large and diverse organization?

A."Since January, we have been a single company, since Sadia ceased to exist as a corporation. We have had a new corporate brand with remarkable principles, such as transmitting energy, being protagonist and dialoguing with the world and bringing people closer; concepts aligned to our values and our strategy, and the company name has also changed. It is more simple: just BRF. All this combined with other actions that we plan to carry out over 2013, helps us build a single BRF culture."

Q. Why is having an external executive search partner so important?

A. "Due to the size and scale of our business, it is very important to have partners who support us in our search for professionals. FESA has been working with us for many years, and since the announcement of the merger, in 2009, it has worked more actively at BRF and supported us in some important tasks."

Q. What is the most pleasurable aspect of your role?

A. "Being in touch with people. Those who work with HR have to enjoy being with people, and I like it a lot."

Q. What have you achieved professionally that you have been most proud of?

A. "I am very proud of the history that BRF enabled me to build. Working 33 years in the same company, especially in this company, that I like and I identify with myself, going through so many changes and transformations, in different areas, is a source of pride and happiness for me."

Q. What is your favorite BRF product?

A. "I'm Brazilian so my favorite food is barbecue! I buy beef cuts BRF."

Get the latest news in Executive Research thought leadership, white papers and industry reports. Sign up for premium content.