INTERVIEW

HEALTH AND WELLNESS

How

and when did the Sanitarium Health & Wellbeing company begin?

It began about 115 years ago when a group of emmigrants in 1898 moved from the Battle Creek Sanitarium to Melbourne, Australia.

They soon discovered that importing foods from the Battle Creek

Sanitarium and then selling them here in Australia was not economically

feasible. After a short time they

began manufacturing the products in Melbourne. That is also how the name Sanitarium came about. The root meaning of “sanitarium”

actually means “learning to stay well” and this is what was behind the recent

name change from Sanitarium Health Food Company to Sanitarium Health and

Wellbeing. It allows us to move

into health and wellness services as well.



When

it comes to branding, what do you want consumers to think when they hear or see

the name “Sanitarium” and how successful have you been in achieving that?

We want to build

the consumers’ confidence in the products that bear our name. When they pick up

a product off the shelf we want them to know immediately that it is good for

them and their family, and that it is part of a healthy lifestyle.



The root meaning of “sanitarium” actually means “learning to stay well” and this is what was behind the recent name change from Sanitarium Health Food Company to Sanitarium Health and Wellbeing.

We have a very

trusted brand in the Australia-New Zealand marketplace. On a volume basis, we produce more

cereal in Australia and New Zealand than any other company, so we’re number one

from that perspective. And we have

the number one and two cereal brands, in both Australia and New

Zealand—according to independent research. We are the most trusted health food provider in the

region. The annual Sanitarium

community report clearly says, “Sanitarium Foods provide more than just healthy

products. They actually provide

health education and programs to support one’s journey to health and

well-being.” That, of course, relates to our mission and role as an

organization. With our name change and our move to add wellness services under

the Sanitarium brand as well, we now have 120 of our approximately 1400-strong

group of employees focusing just on providing wellness services around

Australia and New Zealand.



On

your website you say that Sanitarium believes passionately in the potential of

"everyone"
physically, mentally, and emotionally. That’s a big swath! How

do you go about reaching a whole continent and more?

Well, I think it

comes back to our whole philosophy that recognizes the God-given, infinite

value of each individual. If we

are true to our philosophy as an organization; if we are living out our mission

to inspire and resource our community to experience happiness and health; if

we’re true to the task of inspiring our community to live happy and healthy

lives, then how we interact with them, and the products we develop, then the

services we offer, must inherently reflect health and encouragement for them to

take positive steps on their health journey. For more than 30 years we have

been providing health and nutrition resources to the community free of charge.



You seem

to have a high sense of “social responsibility.” How is that shown?

We do provide free

breakfasts in low socio-economic areas in Australia and New Zealand. In Australia we partner with the Red

Cross and in New Zealand with other food companies. I believe last year we provided, across both countries,

around

1.5 million school

breakfasts. This is a fantastic

program. We receive feedback from

local schools and local communities saying that behavior in class is better, academic

performance has increased and even local crime rates are reduced, simply

because those kids are getting a good start to the day.



Twelve months ago,

the Health Food Department of the South Pacific Division bought the global

rights for CHIP—Coronary Health Improvement Program. While keeping the acronym, we will be changing the name to

Complete Health Improvement Program.

This purchase came about as we searched for a community program that we

could undertake which would have an impact on community health by addressing

the problem of lifestyle diseases. Lifestyle medicine is a rapidly emerging

field and one where Adventists should be at the forefront. If you look at the

history of Adventists and our health message, you can see that we have led some

very dramatic positive impacts on community health. Programs such as the CHIP

program will allow us another opportunity to take the leading-edge again. So it is exciting!



Well, I think that the key differential is that we have an absolute focus on health. Most businesses, on the other hand, see their ultimate responsibility as only focusing on getting a return for their shareholders.

What

makes Sanitarium Health & Wellbeing different from its competitors?

Well, I think that

the key differential is that we have an absolute focus on health. Most

businesses, on the other hand, see their ultimate responsibility as only

focusing on getting a return for their shareholders.



This

raises an important question: “Is it possible to be a Christian when working in

a competitive, secular business environment?”

Absolutely!

Operating in a competitive environment doesn’t mean that you operate

unethically. It doesn’t mean that you operate in a way to harm another

organization. It does mean that

you operate in a manner that is sustainable, efficient and effective. I don’t

think operating consistently within our philosophy and operating profitably in

a competitive environment are mutually exclusive. In fact, I believe that if focus is given to our philosophy

and we are true to that, then profit will follow. Yes, you have to make good

decisions in terms of investing for

future growth. You have to ensure that you are continually challenging

your cost base, looking at opportunities to improve your efficiency, looking at

the effectiveness of your programs and the return on investment they are

obtaining. It is essential to use

good discipline in terms of the way we do that. If we do that in a manner consistent with our philosophical

position, I am confident sustainable profits will follow.



Its

one thing to have a brand with the community-at-large but how do you do this

with 1400 employees when many are not members of the Adventist church?

Probably the most

important thing we do is to ensure that our culture is aligned to the values of

the Church and we recruit in a way that ensures that the culture is

maintained. So we’re very upfront

in our recruitment process about who we are and what we stand for.   We offer a non-discriminatory

work environment whilst maintaining our special character.



Do you

orient your employees to the mission of Sanitarium?

Absolutely. Our

vision statement says that “we inspire and resource our community to experience

happy, healthy lives.” And our mission says “we share a message of health and

hope with our community.” So what we do both externally and internally is

important. It is a matter of being

authentic or credible. If we don’t

live this internally we can’t be transparent about who we are or what we do. It

is important for us to ensure that our culture and ethos are reflected

appropriately through all our workplaces.



Do you

find it to be a disadvantage as a business by honoring the Sabbath?

No. I think overall,

people see this as an advantage. Certainly there is some commercial

disadvantage from choosing to close factories for one day a week in terms of

operating efficiencies and capacities.

However, we believe that by adhering to the concept of rest that we

actually get increased productivity from our staff.   We have a very low staff turnover and a high

engagement level in our mission and vision.



It gives us freedom to be the person God intended us to be. In other words, my value comes from God and stands independent of my achievements or others views of me and that is what we try to reflect.

As the

CEO of a successful business in a very competitive marketplace, tell us what

role stewardship plays?

From a spiritual

perspective, personal stewardship is important. I think we should constantly challenge ourselves by looking

at our resources, talents and skills and ask how we are using them and what

benefit they can bring to the broader church organization and the local

community. We have been given

talents to use and to develop for service. From a stewardship perspective, we

must continually challenge ourselves on how effectively we are using the

talents that have been gifted to us for service. Are we unselfishly doing our best to further the work of God

through the use of those talents?



Our value comes from God and God

alone. Some see their whole value

as being found in their job, what they own or with whom they associate but when

we see our real value being found in God it becomes transformational. It gives

us freedom to be the person God intended us to be. In other words, my value comes from God and stands

independent of my achievements or others views of me and that is what we try to

reflect.

Kevin Jackson

Chief Executive Officer,

Sanitarium Health & Wellbeing, Australia.

Kevin began his career

working for international business consulting firm Ernst & Young, where he

obtained experience in auditing, corporate advisory and business

consulting. After joining

Sanitarium in 1996, Kevin served in a number of senior roles. In his twelve

years as Sanitarium CEO, Kevin has guided the organization to an annual

turnover of more than A$600 million, expanded international operations and

investments and continues to lead a team of over 1400 employees. Kevin resides

with his wife and their two daughters on the Central Coast of New South Wales,

Australia, where he enjoys family life, the great outdoors, and participating

in church life.

'+element.CommentMessage+'