Four Executives Honored for Key Roles in Novelis Turnaround

WEST PALM BEACH, FL – July 8, 2014 — Best Practice Institute will honor four Novelis senior leaders for the pivotal roles they have played in the remarkable turnaround of the aluminum products manufacturer and recycler.

The 2014 BPI C-Suite Award will be presented to Steve Fisher, senior vice president and chief financial officer of Novelis, and Nick Madden, senior vice president and chief supply chain officer.

The 2014 BPI Engineering Bench Strength Award will be presented to Joanne McInnerney, vice president of global talent management, and Marilen Endicott, senior manager of global talent management and organizational effectiveness.

Novelis is the world’s largest producer and recycler of aluminum rolled products, with fiscal 2014 revenue of $10 billion. The company has 11,200 employees in nine countries.

Novelis’s Journey to Success

Novelis has been on an exciting journey, even by the standards of modern business, during its short history since being spun off by aluminum producer Alcan in 2005. Initially, the newly independent company faced daunting organizational, market and financial challenges that threatened its very survival.

But the 2007 acquisition by a strategic investor, the Aditya Birla Group, and the 2009 arrival of a new CEO, Phil Martens, set the company on a new path – a deliberate process to transform the company to world class status.

Martens has been widely credited for leading the turnaround. The year before he came on board at Novelis, the company reported the lowest financial performance in its history. Martens responded with aggressive cost-cutting, optimization of the company’s global footprint, and a commitment to dramatic improvement in four global functions: finance, procurement, human resources and information technology.

Increased discipline, standardized platforms and management restructuring allowed the company to strengthen the business and build global alignment. Then, with the backing of its supportive shareholder, Novelis went on the offensive. Martens developed a new vision for the company based around sustainable development and a daring commitment to strategic, global expansion.

The bold measures have included:

– Closure or divestiture of plants in Canada, Europe and the U.S. that were underperforming or producing non-core products.

– Launch of an aggressive sustainability agenda to reach 80% recycled metal input across its products by the year 2020.

– Ambitious $2-billion expansion of manufacturing plants in Brazil, South Korea, Europe and the United States.

– Building Novelis’s first plant in China to serve the automotive industry. The plant is on target to be commissioned by the end of the year.

– Opening a recycling center in South Korea in 2012 that is the largest of its kind in Asia, and building a new facility in Germany which will be the world’s largest aluminum recycling center when it opens this year.

Novelis’s revenue for fiscal 2014 is approximately $10 billion. After a staggering $1.9 billion net loss in 2009, the company has turned a profit for five consecutive years. In Novelis’s 2014 annual report, Martens declared that most of the company’s transformation is now complete.

Novelis has gone from a struggling spin-off sliding towards bankruptcy to a questionable acquisition being pummeled by financial crisis and economic downturn to an industry leader that is profitable and growing. Novelis is the archetype of a corporate turnaround.

The BPI Awards

Fisher, Madden, McInnerney and Endicott, four Novelis executives who have played key roles in the turnaround, will be presented the BPI Awards.

BPI is a leadership development center serving many of the world’s top corporations, including a majority of the Fortune 500. BPI’s Senior Executive Board is an ultra-exclusive network and think tank of the talent executives of some of the world’s largest companies.

Leslie Joyce, Novelis’s chief people officer and a member of BPI’s Senior Executive Board, nominated the four Novelis leaders for recognition. The final nominees were selected by the entire Senior Executive Board and the winners were chosen by BPI Founder and CEO Louis Carter.

BPI’s annual awards honor executives, practitioners and innovators who have made a significant contribution to leadership and management of their organizations. BPI has a big focus on talent management and looks for a commitment to talent and leadership development in selecting its award recipients.

“The Novelis story truly is an exciting one,” says Carter. “Novelis has proven what we already knew, but which we too often forget: Major challenges in the marketplace also create major opportunities.”

Carter says it is important to give simultaneous recognition to all four executives to underscore that great successes rarely result from one individual, but from several great leaders who share a common goal and strategy.

Steve Fisher: Future-Focused Finance

Steve Fisher joined Novelis in 2006, was a leader in negotiations with the Aditya Birla Group (ABG), and became CFO in May 2007, the month of the ABG acquisition. Next to Martens, perhaps no one has been given more credit for Novelis’s emerging success story than Fisher.

After the acquisition, Fisher negotiated a $4.8 billion capital refinancing plan that gave the company some breathing room and created the liquidity Novelis needed to pursue its expansion goals. Fisher also vigorously pursued cost-cutting and efficiencies.

When the Atlanta Business Chronicle named Fisher CFO of the Year in 2012, Martens said, “Steve’s forward thinking has been a vital part of Novelis’ growth … He has played an essential role in the turnaround of this company, helping us to transform it into a truly world-class corporation and the leader in our industry in a few short years.”

Martens challenged Fisher to cultivate a new culture in corporate finance. The work of finance is to do more than assemble data, keep a lid on costs and run a compliance shop, says Fisher. Finance should be a valued partner to other business units, providing substantive analysis and getting out in front of decisions. Finance can limit itself to merely recording historical data, but at Novelis, under Fisher’s leadership, finance is about making the future happen.

Fisher says his most important discovery since becoming CFO is the importance of talent. There was a time when talent management occupied perhaps 5 percent of Fisher’s schedule, but he now devotes 40 percent to 50 percent of his time to knowing his team members, identifying gaps in talent and doing succession planning.

Fisher describes talent management as “day in and day out, the most important and the most rewarding thing I do.”

Nick Madden: Changing the Procurement Model

Nick Madden had been with the former parent company, Alcan, since 1978. He was named Novelis’s global chief procurement officer in 2006, becoming one of a handful of senior leaders working together to build a global management structure for the new company. Of 14 executive officers listed on the Novelis website, Madden is one of just three who was with Novelis at the time of the 2005 spin-off and the 2007 Hindalco acquisition. In 2012 he became chief supply chain officer.

When Novelis set out to streamline, optimiz
e and integrate its manufacturing operations worldwide, Madden believed one thing had to change about how Novelis did procurement: “Functional reporting is essential to successful global procurement, and crucial for leading transformation,” he said.

Because Novelis began as a collection of four, siloed regional entities with little global integration, it is not surprising that local procurement officers were accustomed to reporting to line managers and plant managers and not to Madden’s global procurement team. However, in order to rapidly transform consistently across the global organization, and to have full alignment of the procurement community with the global strategy, it is essential to require procurement managers to report directly to the global procurement function, Madden says.

Madden believes that a direct line to his procurement officers can help to ensure they remain focused not just on transactional procurement (what is needed today at the local level), but on strategic procurement — the right materials from the right suppliers, delivered at the right times and in the right ways to support the global business strategy. It permits the procurement leadership to focus on improving business processes and enables a consistent global approach to developing a world class team across Novelis. Madden says his goal is to wield the supply chain as a strategic weapon.

The Novelis executive team spends more time on talent management than on any other discipline, says Madden. He tries to personally greet each new hire in the Atlanta office himself.

“We take the whole talent process seriously,” Madden says. “We know our people. We spend a lot of time walking the floor. We try to live it.”

McInnerney and Endicott: Creating an Engineer Pipeline

Joanne McInnerney was recruited as vice president of global talent management in 2010 by Chief People Officer Leslie Joyce, who had just joined Novelis the year before.

Joyce and McInnerney faced some extraordinary talent challenges. Novelis had no standardized process for global talent review, it had no online presence to list jobs or recruit candidates, and it had no formal leadership development programs. That’s a lot of gaps to fill. Joyce, McInnerney and their team have implemented all these things during the past five years.

Five leadership development programs have been launched at Novelis:

– Leadership Essentials 1 and Leadership Essentials 2: Week-long programs which teach Novelis’s seven essential leadership qualities. The programs are open to all employees and designed to train new and middle managers.

– Leadership Launch, Accelerated Leadership and Global Leadership: Two-, three- and four-week programs, respectively, for high-potential leaders. The programs include work-based assignments, special projects, classroom instruction, 360-degree assessments and mentoring.

Joyce and McInnerney also identified the need for a special program to raise the next generation of engineers. The company’s drive to expand has created a greater need than ever for more engineers at Novelis.

Marilen Endicott oversaw the Engineering Bench Strength program work-streams for which she and McInnerney are being honored by Best Practice Institute. A truly global effort, hundreds of technical, business and HR leaders from across the Novelis system have been and continue to be critical for the success of building technical talent at Novelis.

Endicott, who joined McInnerney’s team in 2012 as senior manager of global talent management and organizational effectiveness, collaborated across the business on hiring practices, development programs, career paths and recognition and reward programs to ensure engineers at Novelis indeed know how critical they are to the organization from hire to retire.

Endicott said the EBS was conceived after determining that for Novelis to achieve its market strategy it needed to attract, develop, and retain the world’s best technical talent. An integrated talent management approach was defined to meet this need. From an acquisition perspective, the goal is to attract and hire adequate engineers and scientists to meet the company’s 2020 growth objectives.

“Novelis has many older engineers who have been with the company and its former parent for decades,” says Endicott, “but far fewer young engineers who are acquiring the same experience and expertise.”

Additional engineers are needed to staff new and expanding plants including a $30 million, 160,000-square foot Global Research and Technology Center in Kennesaw, GA, less than an hour northwest of Novelis’ headquarters in Atlanta. The development agenda included providing ongoing education and training to new and current engineers to drive safety, manufacturing excellence, superior project management, leadership, and innovation. An engineering development program (EDP) was designed to accelerate the careers of recently graduated engineers. The young engineers are in a two-year program that includes a work assignment at a plant and global learning weeks. About 40 engineers comprised the first EDP graduating class in 2013. More than 200 young engineers are now in Novelis’s EDP pipeline all over the world.

Finally, a technical career path and technical Fellowship program was designed for engineers and scientists to provide growth opportunities, career path options, and recognize and reward technical advancements.

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LOUIS CARTER, founder and CEO of Best Practice Institute, has led BPI to become one of the world’s top associations for leadership and human resource development, with more than 42,000 subscribers. Carter is creator of, the cloud-based anytime feedback tool on a social collaboration platform, and the BPI Online Learning Portal at Carter has written eleven books on best practices and organizational leadership, including the Best Practice series and the Change Champion’s Field Guide.

BEST PRACTICE INSTITUTE is a leadership and management association focusing on best and innovative business practices. BPI has more than 42,000 subscribers, from managers to senior and C-level executives. It has corporate and individual members in about two dozen countries on five continents, including executives and employees of more than half of the Fortune 500.


Louis Carter, founder and CEO

Christi O’Neill, VP of Research

July 8, 2014

Best Practice Institute

West Palm Beach, FL

phone: 800-718-4274

email: Coneill (at)