Matt Shattock, Chairman and CEO, Beam Suntory


What’s the toughest lesson you’ve had to learn as a leader?

You have to surround yourself with people who are hopefully better than you and different from you, and their competence and integrity are what you depend upon. The further you go in your career and the higher you rise, the more you realize that it is about getting your team right and the people around you right. Sometimes that involves making some difficult decisions, but you’ve got to get it right to be successful.

As a leader, how do you measure success?

We’ve got hard measures, such as profit and our market share. Those are very important, of course, but I think there are also soft measures: Are people engaged? Are they feeling fulfilled? Do I see the leaders in our organization growing themselves? These questions are less tangible, but just as important to be successful in your tenure.

How do you motivate others?

It’s important that we motivate people by laying out a clear vision and strategy for the company. We tell everybody what we’re trying to do as a company, but motivate them individually by telling them what role they will play in delivering that strategy. That puts a spring in their step.

What motivates you?

I’m motivated by trying to be the very best version of myself I can be. I’m motivated by doing what’s right by my family, and I’m motivated by a very deep responsibility I have to the 4,500 people that work in this company. I have a real responsibility to them, and that gets me out of bed every day.

Who are some of the leaders you admire?

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, and Winston Churchill. I think they both have uncommon amounts of courage amongst many other characteristics, and I think that’s one of the highest of human qualities. Another leader I admire deeply is Bill Gates. Our vision as a company, which was born from Beam Suntory’s founder in 1899, is “growing for good.” Bill Gates has been a wonderful example of a successful leader and businessman who really believes in “growing for good” by doing good with his wealth and his position of power in the world.

Can you tell us about Beam Suntory’s company culture?

We’re sort of a big little company, and we describe our culture in a very simple way. We describe it as “entrepreneurs creating innovative solutions to beat the competition the right way.” It’s a lot of words, but we think people who come here thrive when they’re empowered, so we encourage them to be entrepreneurial and behave like it’s their company. They work together and have a competitive mindset, but that competitive mindset is driven by always doing business the right way, particularly for us, because we’re an alcohol beverage company—a highly regulated industry, where our responsibility is very important to us. We find that people who embrace that concept and grab the opportunity that it provides do very well here.

How do you encourage people to have entrepreneurial spirit?

We provide a team environment where you can take intelligent risks. If employees fall over, we’ll pick them up, as long as they learn from their mistakes and move forward. We tell employees: power is there. You can’t give somebody power, it has to be taken. So, grab the responsibility offered to you and run with it. If you work with the people around you and realize that none of us is as good as all of us, you’ll probably do OK.

If you wrote a book, what would you call it?

I would call my autobiography The Mañana Man because I’m never quite satisfied with what’s happening right now. I’m promising myself one of these days I might just enjoy today.


Interview By Chelsea Trautman & Andrew Zamorski & Natalia Sowa

Fast Facts

Chicago, IL
Number of employees
Previous experience
Served as COO of Unilever Best Foods North America. He later led Cadbury’s businesses, first in The Americas, and then in the Europe, Middle East & Africa regions, before joining Beam Suntory in 2009.
Five things he can’t live without
His wife, his three children, and the BBC
First job
Had a paper route, delivering papers in the morning before school.

Browse Conversations

Maureen Cragin
Maureen Cragin, VP, Communications of Boeing Defense, Space & Security
Merrillyn J. Kosier
Merrillyn J. Kosier, EVP & Chief Marketing Officer of Ariel Investments
Necole Merritt
Necole Merritt, Chief Communications & Marketing Strategist of Entergy Services, Inc.
Nido Qubein
Nido Qubein, President of High Point University
Pam Rose
Pam Rose, Co-Owner of Swirlz Cupcakes
Paula Davis
Paula Davis, VP of Corporate Affairs and Communications of HARMAN
Pedro A. Guerrero
Pedro A. Guerrero, Chief Executive Officer of Guerrero Howe Custom Media
Peter Marino
Peter Marino, Chief Public Affairs & Communications Officer of MillerCoors
Raaja Nemani
Raaja Nemani, CEO & Co-Founder of Bucketfeet
Rick Wetzel
Rick Wetzel, Co-Founder and Chairman of Blaze Pizza
Rob Clark
Rob Clark, VP of Global Communications of Medtronic
Shari Runner
Shari Runner, President & CEO of The Chicago Urban League
Sid Bala
Sid Bala, CEO of alligatortek
Sonny Garg
Sonny Garg, Former Chief Innovation Officer of Exelon
Terry Brady
Terry Brady, President of Underwriters Laboratories (UL)
Tiffany LaBanca
Tiffany LaBanca, SVP of Global Internal Communications of 21st Century Fox
Tom Yorton
Tom Yorton, former Chief Executive Officer of Second City Works
Tonise Paul
Tonise Paul, President & CEO of Energy BBDO
Tony Weisman
Tony Weisman, CMO of Dunkin'
Victoria Podesta
Victoria Podesta, Former Chief Communication Officer of Archer Daniels Midland Company
Alexander Pissios
Alexander Pissios, President of Cinespace Chicago Film Studios
Andrea Zopp
Andrea Zopp, CEO of World Business Chicago
Anne C. Toulouse
Anne C. Toulouse, VP of Advertising & Global Brand Management of The Boeing Company
Anne Pramaggiore
Anne Pramaggiore, Senior Executive Vice President & CEO (Former CEO & President of ComEd) of Exelon Utilities
Aylwin Lewis
Aylwin Lewis, Chairman, CEO & President of Potbelly Sandwich Works, LLC
Bill Bartlett
Bill Bartlett, Vice President of Organizational Development of Novant Health
Bill Kurtis
Bill Kurtis, Founder & Owner of Bill Kurtis Productions & Tallgrass Beef Company
Bridget Coffing
Bridget Coffing, Former Chief Communications Officer of McDonald’s Corporation
Carrie J. Hightman
Carrie J. Hightman, EVP & Chief Legal Officer of NiSource, Inc.
Chris Dornfeld
Chris Dornfeld, President & Co-Founder of Bonfyre
Courteney Monroe
Courteney Monroe, Chief Executive Officer of National Geographic Global Networks
Cristina Gonzalez
Cristina Gonzalez, Director for Client Experience & Change of IBM
David Prosperi
David Prosperi, First Vice President of The Options Clearing Corporation
David Snyder
David Snyder, Publisher of Crain’s Chicago Business
Deborah Rutter
Deborah Rutter, President of John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
Drew Lydecker
Drew Lydecker, Co-Founder and President of AVANT Communications
Ed Wehmer
Ed Wehmer, President & CEO of Wintrust Financial Corporation
Edwin Eisendrath
Edwin Eisendrath, Former CEO of Chicago Sun-Times
Gabriela Franco Parcella
Gabriela Franco Parcella, Executive Managing Director of Merlone Geier Partners
Gary Kelly
Gary Kelly, Chief Executive Officer of Southwest Airlines
Gary Sheffer
Gary Sheffer, Former VP of Communications & Public Affairs of General Electric
Greg Cameron
Greg Cameron, President & CEO of Joffrey Ballet
Harry Kraemer
Harry Kraemer, Executive Partner of Madison Dearborn
Howard Tullman
Howard Tullman, Former CEO of 1871 of & General Managing Partner of G2T3V, LLC
Iris Ware
Iris Ware, Chief Learning Officer of City of Detroit
Jack Reed
Jack Reed, U.S. Senator of Rhode Island
James L. Madara
James L. Madara, CEO of American Medical Association
Jeff Winton
Jeff Winton, SVP, Chief Communications Officer of Astellas Pharma US
Jennifer M. Smoter
Jennifer M. Smoter, Former VP of Public Affairs & Brand of AbbVie
Jennifer Mauer
Jennifer Mauer, VP, Enterprise Transformation & Change Strategic Communications of Bristol-Myers Squibb
Jeremy Martin
Jeremy Martin, Director of Public Affairs and Outreach - National Capital Region of Bell Helicopter
Jim Murray and Peter Rahal
Jim Murray and Peter Rahal, President & Founder of RXBAR
Jodi Fyfe
Jodi Fyfe, Chief Executive Officer of Paramount Events
John Canning
John Canning, Founder & Chairman of Madison Dearborn Partners
John Heffner
John Heffner, CEO of Drybar
John R. Ettelson
John R. Ettelson, President & CEO of William Blair & Company
Jon Harris
Jon Harris, Chief Communications Officer of ConAgra Foods
Jonathan Weiss
Jonathan Weiss, CEO of HealthEngine
Julie Howard
Julie Howard, Chairman & CEO of Navigant
Karen Durham-Aguilera
Karen Durham-Aguilera, Executive Director of Arlington National Cemetery
Karen Tripp
Karen Tripp, VP of Communications and Public Affairs of ENVIVA
Kate Bensen
Kate Bensen, CEO of The Chicago Network
Kathy Beiser
Kathy Beiser, Chief Communications Officer of Kaiser Permanente
Keith Alper
Keith Alper, CEO of CPG Agency
Kelly McGrail
Kelly McGrail, VP, Strategic Business Communications of Mars, Incorporated
Kent Nielsen
Kent Nielsen, Co-Founder of Fort Knox Studios
Kim Feil
Kim Feil, CMO & CSO of Aspire Healthy Energy Drinks
Kym White
Kym White, Global Practice Chair, Health of Edelman Consulting
Lauren Dunne
Lauren Dunne, Co-founder and CEO of Varnish Lane
Lisa Osborne Ross
Lisa Osborne Ross, President of Edelman - Washington, D.C.
Luke Saunders
Luke Saunders, Founder & CEO of Farmer's Fridge
Marc Schulman
Marc Schulman, President of Eli's Cheesecake Company
Mary Jo Herseth
Mary Jo Herseth, SVP, Head of Banking, U.S of BMO Private Bank