10 Things You Didn’t Know about Kraft Heinz CEO Bernardo Hees

Bernardo Hees is a Brazilian economist who has had a very successful career as a businessman. After all, he is the current CEO of The Kraft Heinz Company, which is the latest in a number of senior management positions that he has held over the course of his career. Besides this, Hees is a partner in the investment firm called 3G Capital as well. Here are 10 things that you may or may not have known about Bernardo Hees:

1. Bernardo Means “Bear-Hard”

Bernardo is the Portuguese version of Bernard, which is a Germanic name that translates to something along the lines of “Bear-Hard.” This can sound rather strange to us, but in essence, it means someone who was as brave as a bear, which was a term of praise because bears are formidable animals to say the least.

2. Considers Himself to Be a Carioca

Hees has called himself a Carioca, which is a term referring to either someone who comes from Rio de Janeiro or something that is associated with said place in some way. This makes sense because Hees grew up in the suburbs of Rio de Janeiro, where his father rose to a high position in an American multinational called Bechtel and his mother was a teacher.

3. Was a Tour Guide

Long before he ever rose to the position of CEO, Hees was a tour guide in Rio de Janeiro, who was responsible for selling the city as well as its surroundings to interested individuals. One of the things that he learned on the job was an improved understanding of how people behaved in groups, while another thing was an improved ability to connect with other people.

4. Studied Economics

Hees went to the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, where he studied economics. It wasn’t until later that he went to the Warwick Business School, where he would receive his MBA.

5. Connected with 3G in School

It was in school that Hees connected with 3G. In short, he received a scholarship from a foundation that was run by the founders of 3G, which had an interesting requirement in that he had to pay back the scholarship money once he had gotten a job after graduation by paying 5 percent of his annual salary. Upon the completion of his schooling, Hees received an invitation from one of the founders of 3G to work on a railroad project in southern Brazil.

6. He Rose from Analyst to CEO

The railroad project involved a railroad that was supposed to be privatized. Initially, Hees started out as an analyst. However, it wasn’t long before he became a CFO and then a CEO at a relatively young age. Something that was made possible because the founder of 3G had left for other duties elsewhere.

7. Sees Being CEO As a Matter of Having the Right Questions

Hees has voiced an interesting opinion that being a CEO isn’t about being the person with the right answers. Instead, it is about being the person with the right questions, which need to be asked so that various stakeholders such as the clients, the customers, the managers, and the suppliers can provide the right answers to those right questions.

8. Distinguishes Between Old and New Mistakes

It is interesting to note that Hees draws a clear distinction between old and new mistakes. Essentially, old mistakes shouldn’t be repeated because people should’ve learned from them. In contrast, new mistakes shouldn’t be cause for fear because they are a part of the process of learning.

9. Not Convinced that Food Companies Should Be Responsible for Encouraging Healthier Choices

When asked about whether food companies should be responsible for encouraging healthier food choices, Hees expressed a lack of enthusiasm for the concept, though he stopped short of saying “No.” Instead, he said that the biggest priority for food companies should be providing the consumers with options so that they can make choices for themselves.

10. Does Believe that Corporations Have a Responsibility towards Society

With that said, Hees does seem to believe that corporations have a responsibility towards society. In the case of The Kraft Heinz Company, this has meant a program to combat hunger in developing nations. Having said this, Hees also acknowledged that since the corporation is international in scale, its policies may or may not be able to keep up with the latest issues in all of the countries in which it operates, which are by no means moving in lockstep.


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