At A Glance

Over the last three years, HEINEKEN has experienced an exponential change – marked by its change in its Board, Executive Leadership, global reorganisation while embedding a “Transformative Evergreen” strategy during the Covid-19 pandemic. This change was amplified further, as the company transitioned from Jean-Francois van Boxmeer’s leadership to Dolf van den Brink’s as Group CEO who is an avid role model of leading from the inside-out and being a living example of courage, authenticity, and grit. Significant changes include:

The reason the organisation has thrived for such a long time is because it has continuously renewed and revitalised itself. We must increase our ability to respond and adapt while always staying true to the values of our company to create a cycle of permanent renewal. We are at our core a growth company and we’ll always remain hungry to seek out new opportunities for growth.
Dolf van den Brink
Chairman Executive Board and CEO,
Client Challenge

COVID-19 happened at the absolute peak of HEINEKEN’S performance, resulting in a loss of market share and premium brands. HEINEKEN APAC underwent a series of unprecedented changes in less than 5 years along with 3 Regional Presidents in quick succession. CorporateDNA was invited to partner closely with all three incoming APAC Presidents in 2016, 2018, 2020 respectively, each time to deepen the relevant shifts into the fabric of the APAC Region and its 26 countries (OpCos) including Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, Korea, and others.  At the peak of this major transformation, our mandate was to focus on 3 key layers of change:

In all 3 layers, CorporateDNA partnered with HEINEKEN to work on the red threads of shifting the culture – from comfort to growth zones, deepening psychological safety and trust, real debate over false harmony, and empowering critical layers of the organisation to own bold decisions and choices.

As a winning brand, HEINEKEN did not compromise its ambition to win internally through its leadership, people, and culture despite being challenged externally on performance during the pandemic! It took a very bold and humble APAC Regional Leadership Team to assign a clear mandate to CorporateDNA:

The Key Shifts we identified to underpin the design of the transformation included:

To me, success means mobilising the organisation so that we can do amazing things together. It means embracing our entrepreneurial spirit while being disciplined around pursuing productivity and cost-consciousness. […] It means empowering our people to go beyond what they thought possible and to achieve more than they could have imagined.
Dolf van den Brink
CEO, HEINEKEN International
CorporateDNA Solution:

Here’s how we have partnered with HEINEKEN across Asia Pacific:

Uncage Asian Talent Acceleration Programme

The Uncage Asian Leadership Programme is a high-intensity, 18-month flagship programme that began in 2019. It was developed for 70 diverse, high potentials to fast-track them into management team positions. The programme identified top talent across 22 nationalities and 26 operating countries including Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Laos, Taiwan, Korea, Myanmar, New Zealand, and Malaysia, who demonstrated potential, energy and the grit to “do and be more”.

With 53 Asian Leaders, 42% of Women Leaders, and 56% Millennials, the programme spoke to a wealth of perspectives and lived realities, that intersect and connect in ways that enriched, reinvigorated, and deepened the cultural intelligence of the delegates as professionals and individuals.

As the Uncage Asian Leadership Programme was paused in 2020 due to COVID-19, Corporate DNA and HEINEKEN saw this as a critical opportunity to include and develop more top talent that have excelled during challenging times. The 2019 cohort was integrated with new, fresh faces in May 2021. This new cohort was put on an intense immersion track that sparked their potential and belief in Uncaging themselves to understand themselves, their values, strengths, personal hijacks, and triggers, and were then united with the 2019 cohort.

The format of this experiential program was redesigned to be Covid-fit through a series of Mastering Mondays and Fundamental Fridays, supported by 1:1 Coaching.

In this programme, the 12 learning topics included:

Inclusion & Diversity

Heineken valued the multi-tiered approach CDNA takes to our I&D programmes targeting 3 Levels of biases which go beyond visible traits, such as gender, age, and ethnicity, to uncovering mindset, functional, and business biases, including “confirmation bias” and “risk aversion” bias.

With a twin track of “Bias fixing” and “Inclusion building” solutions, we designed a roadmap to accelerate Heineken’s goal to become a customer-centric region. Our partnership with Heineken on I&D has been custom designed to knit together the organisation’s I&D aspirations of their 9 Inclusive Vitamins internal campaign with their business objectives.

Working with the APAC Regional leadership team, CorporateDNA’s sessions started with understanding how individual and organisational biases shape current working practices and processes.

We then applied the lens of intersectionality to bring teams together in small and diverse/contrast groups, to unpack the origins of these biases through the lens of Self, Function, and Region – to make the unconscious, conscious.

In this process, following the identification of prevailing and interfering biases, we work cross-functionally to address barriers to execution that arise between teams because of these differences and biases.

CorporateDNA works with functional leadership teams to design and embed new ways of working into the business, with clear business outcomes as the focal point.

Using both qualitative and quantitative measurements, CorporateDNA monitors the effectiveness of the programme to ensure we are agile with adaptations and that we course-correct as we progress.

Using Employee Voice of Customer data at the beginning and the end of the programme gives rich data on how these actions have impacted the general employee base. We use purposive sampling with key stakeholders to understand the increase in collaboration and the reduction of friction between teams or functions.

We are focused on reducing barriers to execution and driving business growth while also working within the foundations of an I&D programme. Increasing the diversity within the regional population is a key measurement of success and supporting the growth of internal talent will represent a success factor that is geared towards Heineken’s future.

Business resilience and performance is the ultimate indicator – and this will be monitored on a micro and macro scale, to ensure I&D has delivered business outcomes beyond representative diversity outcomes.

Operating Local Country Transformations

General Managers across a number of markets (OpCos) in Heineken APAC, at different maturity and inflexion points, appointed CorporateDNA to “Uncage” the business within their local OpCos to adopt a progressive mindset and not be trapped in the norms of the local, distinctive cultures. This programme spanned across major OpCos like Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Korea, Taiwan, and others. The GM’s unified objective was to create a single umbrella culture that unified the values and mindsets of the new Heineken, giving them a single core value system, with mindsets and behaviours that deliver healthy business performance.

CorporateDNA applied its proven culture transformation methodology, adapted for Covid-19, across a 9-month journey to establish an overarching winning culture in each OpCo, across 3 layers of each business – the CEO/GM, the Management Team and the chosen change agents from the layer below:


Through all the work we undertake with HEINEKEN, the spirit of Uncage borne out of Uncaging HEINEKEN ‘S Tiger Beer campaign (which is about local heroes and their bravery in pursuit of passion), became the foundation that led all our transformations both at Regional, OpCO and Individual levels. The results included:

HEINEKEN has experienced significant wins through large transformations undertaken across all levels of management over the last 6 years, as CDNA continues to partner with them to push their boundaries and keep HEINEKEN Uncage real.

HEINEKEN Testimonials:

Thanks for once again sharing your magic with us! Really powerful results offsite in connecting Uncage with business, teams and self – really seeing the shifts. One day of reconnecting, celebrating, caring. One day of compassionate challenge. I particularly loved the ‘realness’ and the emerging new skills on strong and weak muscles!

APAC President, 2019

Thanks for the amazing journey so far – it is life transforming and I have never seen anything like it. The real proof point is the ExCo now sees us as ONE MT and it is recorded in the minutes!


You are amazing and genuinely giving it your best to help! Appreciate the genuine concern in helping us shape the leadership culture that has to start with us at the top. I believe our extended leaders could see and feel the change last week. I am confident that our MT is working as One and committed to this journey.



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