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"An inclusive culture is one where everybody can feel different from the others, and be proud of their differences" an interview with Florestan

An interview with Florestan, Head of People Zone Functions, Support Functions & Global HQ

We’re AB InBev, brewer of some of the world’s best beers, like Stella Artois, Corona and our American brand Budweiser. Read Florestan’s story about his career with AB InBev and how he experiences inclusive behaviour in the workplace.


Tell us about yourself.


My name is Florestan, I’m born and raised in Belgium, and have done my studies at Louvain School of Management. I started my career at AB InBev straight after my Master’s degree in International Management (CEMS) as a graduate programme (Global Management Traineeship in 2016). At that time, I had been sent to France where I spent most of the programmes together with 5 other GMTs (they are still colleagues and even friends!). After the programme, I took over a Trade Marketing position, where I stayed a little bit more than a year. I was in touch with Marketing agencies, production sites, in order to bring to life brand news cardboard displays each month for our key brands in France. After this, I joined the People team as People Continuity Lead for BU South. After less than 2 years’ experience in the company, I was already given the opportunity (and trust) to manage HR projects around 3 countries: France, Spain and Italy. My scope of responsibility later changed to France, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and Norway where I worked for a year and a half. Since summer 2020, I came back to Belgium as HR Manager for Zone Functions.


What are your current responsibilities?


As an HR Manager (or People Lead in ABI terms), I am responsible for all the HR matters in my scope together with my team of 2 wonderful colleagues. Our Zone Europe is structured around key functions (like Commercial, Finance, People, etc.) and countries are organized by Business Units. We call it a matrix structure, and I’m there responsible for all the zone Functions. Practically speaking, my daily routines include recruitment interviews, budget discussions, strategic discussions with the Zone Europe VPs as well as coaching discussions with our employees to discuss their next moves, and many more! The role is evolving every day, and I have to say that not a single day has been like the previous until now!


What was your biggest challenge during your career in AB InBev?


New positions are always a big challenge, and I would say my last position change confirms this rule! AB InBev is a very fast-moving company, and as a new employee in a team, you need to be able to stay ahead of the curve in an environment that can change extremely fast. You need to build new networks, build your credibility towards new stakeholders, identify what you can bring as added value (should it be a different point of view, a new set of skills, a past relevant experience) in all situations and the most important to me I believe, bring trust in your team to ensure your reports, but also peers and managers, feel safe to reach out to you, and ideally could be learning a bit from you.


What does inclusion mean to you?


I like the way Verna Myers put it into a simple sentence “Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance”. Even though there is still a feeling of “guest list” (not very inclusive) in that metaphor, it emphasizes in a simple and easy to remember way that inclusion is an active concept, allowing everybody to be involved and get a chance to be part of a bigger whole. An inclusive culture is one where everybody can feel different from the others, and be proud of their differences, it’s a culture where people would be known for their intrinsic beauties, strengths, skills etc. and not by any “difference tag name”. 


Tell us about a time when you felt you, your team, your manager or a leader exhibited inclusive behaviour?


It’s hard to pick a one moment, as I think it should be in the DNA of my role and my team’s day-to-day job, but we are doing it throughout all the employee's steps in the company, from recruitment, where we are using the most objective tools we have found, to the way our employees get feedback, to how we are making promotion choices. 


AB InBev is the world’s biggest brewer. We’re based in 16 European countries, with five different business units in 12 different time zones and 28 breweries. And this scale is built on solid foundations. Our history stretches back over 600 years, right back to when French monks were brewing their first Leffe beer. Check out our latest job opportunities and become a part of our big multicultural family.


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