For Hispanic Heritage Month, Elsy Ocejo ’17 shares what she’s proud of in the past year as an Hispanic business leader in Bimbo Bakeries USA and how she strives to advance diversity, equity and inclusion both within her organization and in the Kellogg alumni community. Please see Elsy’s full bio below and ways you can become involved Kellogg community member.
Tell us about Bimbo Bakeries USA (BBU). As an Hispanic business leader in the company, what about the company are you particularly proud of – especially in the context of the past year and a half?
Supply chain has become the center of attention lately due to people disruptions, more so than processes or technology. Everyone at BBU not only proved to be agile during the last 18 months of disruption, but we managed to exponentially grow during this period. This was due to several factors: (1) being in the right industry during the pandemic, (2) including agility as our strategic priority for 2022 (where we value individuals over processes and tools, we work solutions over comprehensive documentation, we prefer supplier and customer collaboration over contract negotiation, and we respond to change over following a strict plan), and (3) we were driven by a common motto that united us during these hard times: Feeding America While Keeping Associates Safe, which includes two important components: (a) it is our American duty to supply food while doing it in a safe way and, (b) having the correct PPE — following safety protocols while doing so and protecting mental health to avoid burn-out.
Not only did BBU had these priorities, but Grupo Bimbo did as a whole, globally and regionally. We all had a duty to serve our countries and to feed our people while being safe.
You were selected to be part of the Diversity, Equity and Belonging (DEB) Executive Steering Committee to drive DEB initiatives inside the company. What drew you to this committee and what are the initiatives you’re driving?
I was elected to one of the three rotating seats for this committee — a nomination that was very thorough. I was very humbled by the nomination and election to be part of the DEB Executive Steering Committee. A lot of learning needs to happen that is continuous and forever changing. There is not only a lot of reading and work to do, but also a lot of self-awareness.
At BBU, we started our Diversity, Equity and Belonging journey, the inclusion aspect of it is embedded in the Belonging. One of the pieces we have focused on is the sense of Belonging. For many companies, this is unexplored but extremely important as it is tied to associate retention, which is a critical component if you think about the current labor situation we are living in. Belonging is tied to recognition by managers and organizations, associate contributions, teamwork inclusion culture, as well as a company’s equity values and mental health. There is not a KPI for Belonging yet, and I don’t know if there will be one developed. However, in my mind, it should be a metric that helps us understand the gap between what employers think is important for retention and what associates would like to have in a company in order to stay, with an action plan to align them. The action plan, most likely, will be a mind shift for the employers to change a lot of current standards of work, not only in the United States but globally.
You were a cohort ambassador while in Kellogg’s Executive MBA Program and now, as president of the Kellogg Club of Houston and co-founder of Kellogg Alumni for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (KADEI), you continue to lead Kellogg’s alumni community. Tell us about leading these two groups and what you hope to advance within the Kellogg alumni community.
Leading the Houston Club less than a year ago has been a great opportunity to expand the alumni network in this city, with the challenge of not being able to meet in person for all events. The strategy is to have sustainable leadership, with succession planning to be a constant active club. We will be nominating a new board in December/January and we will keep focusing on building partnerships with other Kellogg alumni clubs or top MBA alumni clubs in the city. One big accomplishment is that we are now part of the Kellogg Network of Texas, where Dallas, Houston and Austin Alumni Clubs unite for simultaneous in-person events. We will strive to continue quality events, either virtual or in-person, and communicate them as a Texas Network.
KADEI is unique, and I believe the first one of its kind in a top MBA school. We built this network more than a year and a half ago, but it just became official a month ago. We have been partnering with the Kellogg Alumni Council (KAC), Pete Henderson Society (PHS) and Dean Bernie Banks to make this happen. We are working on a strategy to focus on nominating a board and outlining next steps to do quality virtual events and helpful information and tools that are relevant to our Alumni to lead with DEI.
Anything you’re reflecting on in particular during Hispanic Heritage Month this year?
I moved to the USA in 2009 when the drug wars in Monterrey, Mexico started; people were killed on the streets, friends and family were kidnapped or car-hijacked by the drug cartels… I was fortunate to be able to move to the USA during that time for work. The adaptation to the American culture was not easy in Knoxville, Tennessee, but I did my best by giving back to the community and volunteering my time to several non-profits. I have made great, long-lasting friends as I moved from Knoxville to Chicago and finally, to Houston. I was blessed with having mentors and a husband that supported me to be successful in an environment where I am a minority. Being Hispanic in this country is not forgetting where you come from or where your family comes from; your essence as a person is very valuable, and you are able to be agile, humble and adaptable by giving back to your community.
More about KADEI & Kellogg Network of Texas
If you are a Kellogg student or alumni and you’re interested in being part of the Kellogg Network of Texas and/or Kellogg Alumni for DEI (KADEI, you can find these groups on LinkedIn through the links below. Learn more about the Kellogg Alumni Network.
- Kellogg Network of Texas: https://www.linkedin.com/company/kelloggdfw/
- KADEI: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/13877097/
About Elsy Ocejo
Elsy Ocejo is the Director of Supply Chain for Bimbo Bakeries USA (BBU), part of Grupo Bimbo, were she is responsible for managing a team focused on OTIF (On-Time In-Full), distribution, inventory, WMS implementation, S&OP (Sales and Operations Planning) processes and cost reduction projects. She was born and raised in Monterrey, Mexico and resides in Houston with her husband Peter and her four-year-old son Charlie.
About Bimbo Bakeries USA (BBU) and Grupo Bimbo:
BBU is the largest Division of Grupo Bimbo. It has brands such as Sara Lee, Entenmann’s, Thomas, Ball Park, Arnold, Brownberry, Oroweat, Bimbo, Marinela and Barcel, and regional brands such as Mrs Bairds and Bays English Muffins among others. BBU sells in DSD, Mass Merchandising, Club Stores, Restaurants and Institutions and Ecommerce. Grupo Bimbo is the largest bakery in the world and present in 33 countries in America, Europe, Asia and Africa. BBU is a private company in the USA, but Grupo Bimbo is publicly traded company in the Mexican Stock Exchange, Grupo Bimbo is family owned in Mexico but is a corporate in the United States and other countries.