Anja Fiedler: Leading HACO to transform the Food Industry with her Team

Anja Fiedler

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Food is an emotion and women, especially, are inextricably linked to food production and delivery etiquette. According to surveys, women produce between 60 to 80 percent of the food in most developing countries and make the majority of the purchase decisions. Though they play a huge role, the influence of women in management is increasing albeit slowly. They are still underrepresented in various industries, even in their own court—Food Industry. However, warriors are those who break all the barriers of gender disparity, backlashing, capital, etc. Anja Fiedler (Managing Director, HACO AG) is one such fearless women leader who is driving a change in the food industry.

Career Path

When asked about life and career path, Anja shares her story of a huge experience in the marketing sector. Anja completed her MBA and spent 20 years in marketing, sales, and general management career in FMCG, amongst others with Unilever and PMI. The food industry is a field where one can contribute to a higher purpose, namely healthy nutrition for the world. This thought inspires Anja and she responds to a wide variety of healthy products. Directing a company like HACO AG, she strives to create food that matters and makes a difference. “So, that is very much in line with what I consider a compelling factor in the food industry that resonates at a personal level for me,” adds Anja. 

This position where Anja works is a challenging task and requires moral motivation. Anja gives credit to her parents and sister. According to her, they laid the foundation of who she is today as a person and a leader. Apart from family, Anja had a lifelong friend in her professional life. She was Anja’s boss at Unilever who supported her personal growth journey by giving her opportunities, challenges, and support. Moreover, she thanks different teams around the world as they have been an inspiration. She thinks they are a source to learn from their diverse backgrounds in various countries.

A Century-old Institution

HACO, a symbol of innovation, was founded 100 years ago in 1922. The company is called the first mover as it was the first to develop freeze-dried instant coffee in Switzerland. It has become an expert and a go-to place when it comes to Custom Made Food Solutions in the categories of coffee, culinary art, snacks, spices, sauces, and dressings. Some of the products are produced at the Headquarters in Gümligen and some are created by HACO’s sister companies around the globe.

The formula behind the success of HACO is the implementation of food innovations in its clients’ and their consumers’ worlds. Services that HACO provides span from mere production for a client to the co-development of new concepts and product innovations. The company proudly boasts that its responsiveness, flexibility, and Swiss quality are appreciated around the world. Numerous well-known FMCG brands rely on HACO to create their products according to their standards for the benefit of their consumers.

Thanking the Team

Anja is a great leader and while serving as a Managing Director, she has to wear many hats. She believes that people are at the core of her strategic and operational intentions and goals. She also thanks her employees as without a team of around 400 people, the company wouldn’t have generated sustainable and profitable growth. Moreover, she is a supporter of a culture that includes innovation, personal commitment, dynamism, and respect or appreciation. This results in the passion a business needs to thrive. Talking about her achievements, Anja has brought many consumer insight-based innovations to different markets. She has also completed numerous market entries, leading businesses to growth and establishing leaders and company cultures within which people could flourish.

Incorporating Technology

HACO has established several webshops, increased its social media activities across all relevant channels, and driven digitalization throughout the business. Starting social media and e-commerce only for B2C, Anja also fosters the importance of social media in B2B marketing areas. According to her, social media presence is not only important with respect to establishing brands but also highly relevant in the context of employer branding and corporate social responsibility. But social media and e-commerce are of course only one element of technology–they serve to bring the technology, that is present in HACO’s products, to life.

Conquering Challenges

Challenges have more to do with roles or positions rather than gender,” says Anja. Currently, all the challenges are centered around the impact of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. These incidents affected the inflation situation, prices, the supply chain, and finding the right talent process. Anja was never focused much on gender discussions, rather, she concentrated on the challenges the brands, markets, or companies were facing to develop solutions that would secure growth.

Shaping the Industry

Consumers actively shape the food industry and factors like short-term social and political issues including the pandemic, war, energy, etc. influence eating behaviors and needs. Moreover, the sectors that are gaining more focus in the food industry are Sustainability, CSR, tracking & tracing as well as the regulatory frameworks. At HACO, these elements are an integral part of its operating framework. The company anticipates trends such as naturalness, health, transparency, and related labels in innovations.

HACO brings these innovations to the market either directly in HACO branded products or through its B2B clients. “And that is our contribution to shape the industry in line with global macro-economic and consumer trends,” says Anja.

Recipe of Success

Being a person of influence, Anja shares her advice with women who aspire to be entrepreneurs and leaders in the upcoming years. “Having clarity about my personal values as well as my personal pillars of leadership–responsibility, commitment, contribution, and authenticity–gave me the framework to check my performance and my leadership behavior against those,” says Anja. She thanks the people around her who supported her as they were the main part of her journey. Anja adds that concentrating on the contexts, analyzing how one feels about them, and tasks in hand result in the performance for growth.


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Also Read : Top 10 Women in the Food Industry, 2023

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