There are few things that excite Arnulfo Ventura more than a healthy challenge. As CEO and ‘Chief Bean Aficionado’ at Beanfields, he’s bringing his expertise in helping to build some of the most innovative brands in the business and applying it to the newly rebranded plant-based snack company that he says is in ‘hyper-growth mode.’
We caught up with Ventura to learn more about what he finds most rewarding about his role, what sets the Beanfields team apart, and more. Read on to explore the story of Beanfields and the team powering it to scale.
ForceBrands: You have an extensive career in beverage, from launching Coba, to working at PepsiCo, and most recently, leading e-commerce at Califia Farms. What inspired your move to helm Beanfields as CEO and ‘Chief Bean Aficionado’?
Arnulfo Ventura: Impact and Challenge. Ultimately, the opportunity to create and shape a plant-based master brand. In turn, make an impact on the planet in supporting sustainable farming practices, and make a difference in people’s lives and their everyday snacking habits, and contribute, even if in a small way to society via our social impact initiatives aimed at providing job opportunities and training for formerly incarcerated and gang-involved members of our community at large. There’s plenty of challenge therein, and on top of that, you add the dynamics of a turnaround, venture capital-backed company that was previously struggling to unlock the next stage of growth — well that just had me salivating. Let me at that Rubik’s Cube please!
FB: What makes Beanfields an exciting brand to lead? What do you find most rewarding about the work that you’re doing?
AV: The people. I’d put this team up against any others in the country. Growth mindsets only on this ship and that’s true down to every last individual on the team, which is super critical when a brand — and a completely newborn one after re-branding — is entering hyper-growth mode.
FB: Tell us a bit about the culture at Beanfields – what defines the Beanfields team?
AV: A love to compete. Everybody just wants to win and make a positive change. We have an extremely high bar when it comes to personal evaluations and assessing our own performance. But we always keep it light and healthy — we laugh and have fun along the way.
FB: What would team members say is one of the best ‘perks’ or cultural aspects that’s unique to the brand?
AV: I mean c’mon, where else can you crunch away while someone is talking at an important meeting?! In all seriousness, it’s a communal leadership environment with shared responsibilities and we’re a completely open book — absolute transparency, candor, and access. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention our unique partnership and tie to Homeboy Industries, still one we’re barely scratching the surface of and evolving.
FB: From your experience building brands in CPG, what are some of the most difficult roles to fill?
AV: All of them! Whether it be a startup, mid-stage, or mega-large cap, every single person’s contributions are critical to keeping the symphony playing harmoniously at each stage. At the field level, brand ambassadors are the face of the brand and are many consumers’ first impression or introduction to the brand; the sales members have to make so many “sells” along the way just to get the product sold; and marketing in today’s day and age is always evolving (perhaps this frontier is the most unclear today). When it comes to marketing, we recently designed hybrid marketing roles that I call “dream JDs (job descriptions)” where the hires we’re making into these roles will be exposed to phenomenal growth and development opportunities. Before any of this can take place, there are supply chain operators who are often the unsung heroes and are critical when unavailability of a product is a deal killer. The finance department keeps the lights on and the cog turning.
FB: Do you have any industry mentors who’ve helped you along the way?
AV: Absolutely — and too many to name here. I think of them more like “Angels” that have come in and out of my development at just the right moment when I needed them — this dates back to my adolescence. When you exude positive energy, it’s almost as if the world manifests to bring these Angels to you, versus you seeking them out. I don’t know how else to explain being where I’m at today without these Angels, especially considering my modest beginnings. Working with Greg Steltenpohl for those years certainly shaped and cemented in me a number philosophies I carry with me today. I’m ecstatic to work more closely with friend and Chairman, Mark Rampolla, and the amazing, and wickedly smart board members at Beanfields.
FB: What’s ahead for Beanfields? Any new product innovations or partnerships you could share?
AV: Yes and yes. I got tinkering away on research and development as soon as I landed and I think our future developments may just be the best Beanfields has done to date. We’ll be sharing details very soon — stay tuned and follow @beanfieldssnacks on Instagram as we unveil exciting updates. This year will certainly be marked by strategic retail partners — both new and existing — in bricks and in clicks. It’s all about leaning in with the brand.