Open Innovation Success Factors – A Leading Practitioner’s View of CoDev

George Wells, Nestle

George Wells, Nestle

Brief chat with George Wells, Global Portfolio Lead, Nestle S.A.-PetCare
by Jackie Cooper, Management Roundtable

Until now, our series on Open Innovation Leadership has featured interviews with leading experts. This time, I decided to talk with a leading practitioner to hear from the ‘trenches’ what it takes to succeed in OI, and how attending CoDev may have contributed.

George Wells of Nestle S.A.-PetCare has attended CoDev three times. He recently advanced from his role as Director of Technology Transfer to his current position of Global Portfolio Lead– a shift in responsibilities from in-licensing, sourcing, and managing transactions to brand marketing for the Global Strategic Business Unit.

What I was most curious to hear from George was whether or not he implemented insights gained at CoDev, and if so, what were the results. Here is what he shared:

JC: What were your most significant goals and reasons for attending CoDev? And what were your takeaways?

GW: My main goals were around search and long-term relationships. At CoDev, I was able to connect with others from similar type companies, find out about new trends, and hear what’s working. One major takeaway for me was references to specific suppliers that people had experience with.

JC: Did you end up implementing anything you heard or using recommended suppliers – and what were the results?

GW: Yes, we did go with the supplier referrals and had great results! When it comes to open innovation you only have one chance to get it right — having recommendations from others not only helped make better decisions, these decisions were then received much better internally.

JC: How have your responsibilities and objectives changed in your new position? What do you see as most important to OI success going forward?

GW: Basically I have moved to a more market-facing role. Linking Business to Research has always been important to open innovation success, now I am working toward that goal from a different angle. There’s a big world out there – and globalization is my focus; figuring out market needs, identifying gaps – what it is people really want. Open innovation is an enabler to close those gaps.

JC: What should attendees look to take away from this year’s conference?

GW: I love Open Innovation and meeting like-minded people. What’s cool about CoDev is all the head-nodding you see in the audience, everybody can relate to each other. Look to meet others from similar – and other – industries, and those who have worked through challenges similar to your own. The smaller sessions and networking are especially beneficial. The open innovation journey isn’t always easy. CoDev has provided support unlike anywhere else.

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