Changing it up
The challenge: to capture an entrepreneurial spirit

Synlait is a global dairy company and milk processor based in Dunsandel, Canterbury.

Ask anyone who works for Synlait what sets the company apart, and you’ll hear a lot about the culture.

In 2008 the company had little more than an empty paddock and a vision. Today, Synlait is an award winning $600 million business with more than 380 employees and one of the largest and highest specification infant formula production sites in the world.

By connecting with their people and using clear communication, the company has succeeded in creating a people-focused culture that powers everything they do.

Not leaving employee engagement to chance
Synlait’s Chief Executive John Penno believes building a strong culture is a key priority and employee engagement isn’t something to leave to chance. John engaged Ocean Design to help Synlait connect their people with why they were ‘on the train’ in a fast-paced and often pressured environment. Everyone needed to know what it means to be a part of Synlait.

Capturing Synlait’s entrepreneurial spirit
Our approach was to redefine the vision and sense of purpose that helped form the business, and to make those elements real and tangible for everyone in the company today.

Through an interactive process, Ocean worked alongside Synlait employees at all levels to capture Synlait’s vibrant, entrepreneurial spirit. Together we were able to clearly articulate why the company exists, where it’s going, and how people work at Synlait.

The process led us to the people-focused, organising idea of game changing that sits firmly behind Synlait’s internal culture and reflects the pioneering vision of a company founded to make more from milk.

An overwhelmingly positive response
The new framework was ‘soft-launched’ in late January 2015 and received an overwhelmingly positive reponse from staff. The values were introduced into the business with a three-month plan that included staff feedback and workshops to discover how the values and behaviours can be lived every day.

John and his leadership team continue to actively support Synlait’s internal culture. It’s early days in the wider process, but feedback already shows the game changing framework provides a shared identity staff resonate with and are using daily to achieve the best in everything they do.

Understanding clearly where they’re going is making a big difference to what they can achieve as a team.