Dan Magliocco has enjoyed a successful 30-year career by adhering to three core principles: learning, impact, and a sense of belonging. As the President and CEO of Danone Canada, a multinational food and beverage company and a leading player both in the plant-based and dairy industry, he is an authority on what it takes to be an effective leader and the future of plant-based dairy alternatives.
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Dan Magliocco, CEO and President of Danone Canada.
Dan Magliocco, CEO and President of Danone Canada. COURTESY OF DANONE CANADA

The food industry veteran’s passion for marketing began early on, during his time as an MBA student at the Schulich School of Business. There, he developed a keen interest in consumer behavior, which would later serve him well in his career.

Magliocco has held several executive leadership positions in the food industry, including at Kraft Foods Canada, Nabisco Canada, and Mondelez Canada, where he served as president.

Since joining Danone in 2017, he has held the role of Senior Vice President, Marketing, Strategy & Insights, before being appointed President and CEO in 2019. His extensive experience at the company has given him a profound understanding of its business and culture, and in a mere five years, he has laid the foundation for Danone’s shift from a yogurt-based company in Boucherville, on the south shore of Montreal, to a Tier one national multicategory food and beverage corporation.

Learning through inclusive workplace culture

Recognized as one of the country’s top employers, Danone Canada describes itself as a people-centric company where employees are empowered to voice their opinions and contribute to making a difference, says Magliocco.

“It is a purpose-led and performance-driven culture,” adds Magliocco. “Our collaborative and inclusive workplace puts a focus on wellbeing, and everyone is encouraged to learn and grow, to develop their skills and explore new areas of the business.”

One of the CEO’s practices to create more proximity is to spend at least 45 minutes on a one-on-one call with every new hire to get to know them, he says.

In reflection on the idea of reverse mentoring, the company also holds forums called What’s On Your Mind, wherein small groups of employees from all levels are invited to freely share their thoughts, ranging from safety during Covid-19 to business strategy.

“Opinions matter, but experience counts as well. People should get the facts to support their opinions, and have the ability to voice them,” says Magliocco. “That’s part of driving that inclusive culture.”

The impact of redefining plant-based

Growing health and ecological consciousness levels among consumers have resulted in a rise in demand for a wider range of plant-based milk alternatives.

Global Market Insights Inc. reported that the Global Dairy Alternatives Market, estimated at $27.5 billion in 2022, is expected to surpass a valuation of $68 billion by 2032.

As Canada’s largest consumer-facing Certified B Corporation, Danone played a major role in advancing plant-based dairy alternatives, notably through its successful Silk brand. The brand’s newest addition, Silk Nextmilk was recently named Canada’s Product of The Year in the Plant-based Beverage category.

This milk alternative is formulated to taste like the real deal, contains only 3 grams of sugar per portion, and like with our other Silk products, has a lower carbon footprint than its dairy counterpart.

“Up until this point, these beverages were not intended to mimic the taste of milk,” says Magliocco. “They were almond beverages, which obviously have a distinct almond taste. When you drink oat, you can have a distinct oat taste. But things are evolving there.”

According to the Ipsos Trends & Foresight report on consumption from September 2022, non-dairy options such as almond, oat, soy, and coconut have captured 10% of the global market.

The introduction of imitation cow’s milk, on the other hand, could encourage more people to adopt a plant-based diet by offering an alternative for regular use, such as pouring it on your cereal and other milk-based recipes.

“You can be a business rooted in economic performance and still do good,” he says. “That is at the heart of the B Corp movement, which is business using its scale as a force for good.”

Fostering a Sense of Purposeful Belonging

A defining aspect of Magliocco’s approach to leadership is cultivating a sense of belonging around a purposeful mission.

“We spend quite a bit of time making sure that each individual in the organization is clear about their role and can see their impact in the delivery of business strategies,” he says.

And yet, pulling that thread through such a large organization from the inside out can be difficult, which is why Danone encourages interaction across the company, but also in its communities.

For example, Danone is a founding partner of Breakfast Club of Canada and has also been supporting the organization for more than 27 years to help provide a nutritious breakfast to children in communities across Canada.

“We visited schools, and we made a commitment to open up new school breakfast programs every year, for five years,” says Magliocco. “Going to Northern communities was very moving because you saw firsthand the impact of your mission.”

“Even for the colleagues who couldn’t join me, [we brought] back that story and shared the effect we are having at these schools,” he continues. “I went there thinking I would be handing out yogurt and came back thinking it felt more like handing out hope.”

General Mills Foodservice is stepping up its presence at this year’s International Pizza Expo, taking place March 28-30 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. In addition to expanding access to its popular Pizza Crust Boot Camp featuring the Doughminators, its dedicated dough experts, the company will feature dough demonstrations throughout the expo (booth #807) and showcase its newly acquired line of high-quality frozen pizza crusts from TNT Crust (booth #1353).

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