The headline “Quinoa Genome Sequenced” caught the eye of Diego Pelaez, CFO of Coronilla S.A., a gluten-free pasta producer. Scientists had successfully sequenced the genome of the quinoa plant, hailed as a superfood because of its outstanding nutritional value. Quinoa, originally cultivated by the Inca Empire in the Andes, had become hugely popular in the last two decades and it was now grown in over 70 countries. It also happened to be the star ingredient in Coronilla’s organic pastas and snacks.
Coronilla was established in 1972 in Bolivia by Diego’s grandfather, Guillermo Wille. After 25 years, he handed the reins to his daughter, Martha Wille. Unfortunately, the transition happened in difficult circumstances, with the company teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. Under Martha’s leadership, the company successfully pivoted from a traditional wheat pasta manufacturer focused on the local market to a global exporter of gluten-free pastas and snacks made from organically-grown Andean grains.
Coronilla not only transformed its business model but also wholeheartedly embraced social responsibility: it established Fair Trade sourcing with local indigenous farmers, hired mostly women and handicapped people in its workforce, and created multiple social programs for staff and their families. By 2017, Coronilla was finally reaping the rewards of its radical change program, with healthy profits and fast growth.
But what was next? The news of quinoa’s genome sequencing confirmed that Coronilla needed to renew itself and establish sustainability. Three strategic areas required decisions soon: branding; establishing a new production facility abroad; and negotiating a new strategic partnership. Furthermore, Diego’s mother Martha was nearing retirement age and the family board had just officially designated Diego as her successor. It was now up to him to set the compass for Coronilla’s next phase.
- Strategic pivoting
- Family business
- Strategic repositioning
- Sustainable growth
- Social responsibility
- Emerging markets
- Corporate culture
- Brand building