Some folks know exactly what they want to do from the beginning. Others seem to drift with the tides. Troy Rudloff seems to always find himself in exactly the right place. Rather than stumbling into greatness, Troy’s journey echoes Louis Pasteur’s line about chance favoring the prepared, if prepared were combined with curiosity, an open mind, and a rock-steady demeanor. It is part of a pattern for Troy that balances heart and spirit, head, and hands—a lineage easily traced to his family and upbringing.
As a child in St. Louis, he’d follow his pipe-fitter grandfather around, endlessly curious. Before he’d allow Troy to join in the tinkering, he’d ask about homework and if it was finished, adamant that his grandson develop his intellect and have the option to work with his mind and not his hands. It’s advice that was likely given a generation previously, as Troy grew up with a successful father, an executive at Southwestern Bell. It was a path Troy would follow, reluctantly at first, but one that has paid off handsomely, as Troy finds himself at the vortex of the future of the newly public Reynolds Consumer Products.
We sat down with Troy to talk about the twists and turns in his journey, both personal and professional, and how he approaches his role in helping build the future of the company.
Sometimes the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree—how’d you end up making the decision out of college to follow in your father’s footsteps?
I always thought I would go into some flavor of business. I was the nerd in the front of the class with his hand up. I loved working with and learning from people, so something collaborative and human-oriented made sense. My dad has always been a mentor and role model, and I knew he had a great reputation at work, but I didn’t want to be known as Mark Rudloff’s son in my first “real corporate job.” I fought it tooth and nail. I was also fortunate enough to be selected for AT&T’s Leadership Development Program and knew it would be crazy to not take advantage of it.
We did three one-year rotations, so I wasn’t working directly with my dad, who passed up promotion opportunities to keep our family in St. Louis. I loved the challenges and the change—Austin, Oklahoma City, Hartford, Chicago, Atlanta. Some 10 roles in 15 years, including frontline sales and service and corporate roles in M+A and strategy. AT&T also supported me in completing an MBA program at Emory. It was a great place to learn, and it felt good that the company was investing in me. AT&T provided me a great balance between the ivory tower headquarters roles and rolling up my sleeves in the field.
It sounds like you were set up for success with a company that was familiar with the family. What propelled you to move on from there?
I was in Chicago at the time heading sales operations for one of our largest regions—we’d doubled the business, and I learned a ton. My next career move at AT&T would have been back moving back to Atlanta or Dallas; I ended up meeting a Chicago girl, and decided to stick around and see what might happen.
Coincidentally, a recruiter for Walgreens reached out as they were looking for additional thought leadership on the retail side. It was too good to be true—stay in Chicago, see if things with the girl work out, and take on another challenging role that I probably wasn’t qualified for. I had a great four-year run at Walgreens during a terribly “exciting” merger and early integration with Boots. Despite SO much change, Walgreens-Boots was very good to me, including offering a generous package when we decided to move my role to NYC. Shortly thereafter, I was fortunate enough to meet Lance Mitchell, the CEO of Reynolds Consumer Products, through a mutual contact and friend. It was just a “meet-and-greet” that led to meeting with his team. Things just clicked. I was, and continue to be, so impressed with what Lance and his team have built at RCP. They generously created a role for me in global business development, during which I was able to travel the globe learning from our International Team and built a go-to-market strategy for India. It was a great experience.
They then asked me to lead sales and analytics for Presto, our private brands business unit. At that time, my private brands team was completely separate from our Reynolds- and Hefty-branded sales and analytics team… It was a suboptimal experience for our customers/retailers to have different partners from the same RCP company selling branded and private brands. We fixed that within nine months, and through open minds and a TON of cross-functional work (i.e., change management), today have one unified face and voice for and with our customer. It’s a key differentiator.
Vice President of Business Transformation & Finance. That’s a mouthful—can you talk about what you’re doing now?
Last July, I was asked to take on a relatively new role at RCP leading Business Transformation, which we refer to as “Reyvolution.” “Reyvolution is an all-encompassing way of thinking, planning, and evaluating our operations to accelerate future growth through product innovation, process automation, and cost reduction.” A mouthful, right.
Despite a few “minor distractions,” in our company and the world, I’ve been working with our Lead Team in developing our business transformation strategy over the past nine months. It’s a terribly exciting role, and I continue to be excited about the opportunities and direction of Reynolds. The role originally also included responsibility for capital, our global contract manufacturing, and visual branding—a finance role reporting to the CFO to ensure synergies across big strategic projects. In January, the role broadened, and I was asked to take on procurement, revenue management/trade transformation, and project management. Of course, with the pandemic, our focus has been on the broader, higher-level priorities—namely, health and safety for our people, which has taken priority over everything.
But we’re moving forward, and the IPO enables us to continue pushing for new areas of growth.
You clearly continue to be asked to take on more and more responsibility throughout your career, and certainly now at RCP, and you seem to be managing everything with a very even keel, a clear eye. As you think about your impact on the organization, can you talk a bit about your personal values and your leadership style?
When I’m at my best, my leadership style has four foundational elements. The first is integrity, the foundation of everything, and something where I always look to my parents and what they taught me. We will achieve exceptional results, but we will always do it the right way. No shortcuts, no crossing ethical lines, and always listening to the internal voice. We’ll work twice as hard to get the same results without taking that moral shortcut.
The second is excellence, which can take on many forms—I see it as a combination of intelligence, experience, and work ethic. Résumés are fine, but to me, interviews are more important. I’d rather have a smart, motivated person who is constantly learning and can bring different perspectives than someone who has had the same role at a different company and ticks the box.
The third is humility. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with many great people. Most/all of them are smarter than me, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I prefer not to be the smartest person in the room; I’d also rather have a hardworking team that’s actively seeking opinions from experts and has a deep desire to learn. That’s a theme for me personally, too. Of the 16 or 17 roles I’ve had in my career, my résumé probably only qualified me for a few of them.
And the last is collaboration. A can-do attitude is as important as anything. If your “smart” is one that comes with ego or “I know better” or “we tried that 10 years ago,” I’m quickly disappointed. I want team players who welcome the challenge of “it didn’t work 10 years ago,” and I thrive on seeing them and the team succeed. Especially in sales, you learn to rarely/never say “No.” That is NOT to say that one ever has permission to deceive or provide unrealistic expectations. It simply means that we provide several data points that lead our customer to say “No”… for example, “We would love to explore partnering with you on that… our best estimates say that it would cost $10 million and take five years to become profitable… maybe you have better data to support moving forward?”
Lastly, and again thinking about the future, your leadership, and guiding investments, can you talk a little about sustainability and how you and Reynolds, as a global manufacturer, are addressing the topic?
This is an area I am especially excited about, having led our comprehensive sustainability analysis and strategy my first year in the company. We have accelerated our focus on incorporating environmental, social, and corporate governance KPIs into our business. In our industry, I also love marrying the importance of ESG/sustainability with overall business health and sustainability. Customers are already interested in sustainable products; however, it’s amazing how many definitions of “sustainability” exist among those same consumers and customers. We must continue to listen and develop with our consumers and customers, offering sustainable alternatives and relentless innovating to make these critical options more and more affordable.
I failed to mention our safety culture earlier, which has many parallels with our values as a company. Our CEO and Lead Team have made it part of our culture, where every meeting begins with a safety update. It doesn’t matter if it’s a company town hall or a smaller business review—any meaningful conversation begins with a safety update. In our current COVID-19 environment, we also provide no capital funds until thoroughly satisfied with a comprehensive safety plan. That has been foundational for our culture since I’ve been here. And if you can’t tell, I am proud to be here.