When Usha Pathmasenan joined what was then Kellogg Canada in 2017, she posted her delight in her new position on LinkedIn. Soon afterward, her feed showed a note of congratulations from company president Tony Chow. “My friends said, ‘wow, the president knows you,’” says Pathmasenan. But Chow, who now leads their brand-new successor company, Kellanova, says that’s perfectly natural.
“We’re just the right size that the family feel of the organization allows you to get to know everybody,” says Chow. “It’s not just about knowing a name or putting a face to a name, but being engaged in people’s lives and what they’re interested in.”
Pathmasenan agrees that the company is “a very close-knit, family-type organization.” And perhaps never more so than in the recent period when Kellogg Canada, like its global parent in Battle Creek, Mich., split into two separate public companies. On Oct. 2, 2023, the famous cereals, from Frosted Flakes to Fruit Loops, were spun off in North America under the renamed WK Kellogg Co., while the company’s snacks, such as Pop Tarts, Nutri-Grain and Pringles, became part of the global enterprise Kellanova (‘nova’ from Latin for new), where Chow and Pathmasenan continue to operate at their Mississauga, Ont., base. Sales staff also work across the country.
Pathmasenan, who is now senior supply chain business partner, praises the smoothness of the transition. “It was pretty straightforward for us internally, knowing which company was going to do what. There was frequent communication over the course of the year and a half since the original announcement, through town halls, department meetings and the like. It was emotional at our last town hall, as employees would be leaving for the other company, but we are all still in the same building.”
And she is very optimistic about the future of the new enterprise. “I think there’s a new sense of motivation now,” says Pathmasenan, “because we’re a new smaller company in the marketplace, and we’ve got to win in the marketplace. So there’s a strong sense of a drive for results that I can see in people.”
This is music to Chow’s ears. “It’s a truly pivotal moment in the history of this organization,” he says. “And I think it creates a ton of opportunities for a lot of folks – being able to focus on fast-moving, agile categories in the snacking company and giving that more focus and energy than we’ve ever had before. I am super excited about where Kellanova is going.”
Sri Lanka-born Pathmasenan, who moved into supply chain work after graduating from the University of Toronto with a degree in chemical engineering, says she has found her talents appreciated ever since she joined. With company support on scheduling, she earned an MBA in strategic management; the company also offers tuition support.
Pathmasenan has been involved in two leadership programs. “They’ve been very instrumental in providing learning and development opportunities to grow my career,” she says. The company also celebrates and promotes women leaders, she notes – all seven executives with C-suite titles reporting to Chow are female. And she admires what she calls “a work hard and play harder kind of mentality.”
It’s a culture that Chow is determined to maintain. “I’ve said to our new group that this feeling about being a family and having shared common goals, based on a high level of trust within this organization, and this concept of always putting the team first versus the individual – that is always going to live very strongly within our culture.”
Advertising feature produced by Canada’s Top 100 Employers, a division of Mediacorp Canada Inc. The Globe and Mail’s editorial department was not involved.