Leading a Global Brewer During the Times of COVID-19

GBI LABA ABINBEV
GBI LABA ABINBEV

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Carlos Brito, CEO of Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev), discussed the challenges of leading the world’s largest brewer at a webinar event hosted by the Latin American Business Association (LABA) and Georgetown McDonough’s Global Business Initiative on Oct. 1.

Brito, who joined AB InBev in 2004 and was appointed as CEO in 2005, discussed how the company has been making people and customers a priority, while adjusting to the new reality brought about by COVID-19.

He detailed some of the company’s measures to support local communities, which included shifting alcohol production, donating hospital beds, and providing face masks. The company repurposed ethanol used in their production process to make hand sanitizers and then distributed them to communities in need—leveraging their local distribution infrastructure.

Carlos Bogaert (MBA’21), part of LABA leadership, was impressed by AB InBev’s COVID relief efforts.

“We were inspired to hear from these initiatives,” said Bogaert.  “We are very confident that the ripple effects of Anheuser-Busch’s contributions have helped many on a local level.” 

Although AB InBev is a global company, it has a strong local presence in each community as it purchases products from local farmers, hires local talent, and brews locally. 

“Our global presence became very important in terms of applying coping strategies from areas touched first by the pandemic,” said Brito.

AB InBev has many plants in China where the crisis hit first. Brito explained how they were able to use this information to adapt operations in their local plants in other regions later impacted by COVID-19.

When asked if he could provide career advice to the audience, Brito told attendees to “pursue people that you admire and places that you feel have the same values as you do.” 

Daniela Cardenas (MBA’21) took this advice to heart as she thinks about her post-graduate career. 

“As an MBA student that is about to embark on a journey to find a job, I found his career advice very valuable and one that I plan to keep in mind when I start my post-MBA professional career,” said Cardenas.