Uniting Spirits: The Path to a New Culture at Diageo India
The case describes the culture-building journey at Diageo India, formerly United Spirits Limited (USL). Diageo plc, a global leader in premium alcohol beverages, acquired a majority stake in Indian spirits company USL in 2013-14. The company manufactured, sold, and distributed a portfolio of premium alcohol beverage brands, some imported and others locally manufactured such as Johnnie Walker, Black Dog, Antiquity, Signature, Royal Challenge, McDowell's No.1, Smirnoff, and Captain Morgan. On taking over USL, Diageo made culture change one of its top strategic priorities. This was a challenging task since USL's close to 200-year-old history was marked by frequent cultural shifts resulting from a series of mergers and acquisitions. Anand Kripalu, the CEO of Diageo India, worked closely with Ivan Menezes, the chief executive of global Diageo, the HR function, and the leadership team to identify the four cultural pillars of the organization: breaking hierarchies, celebrating life, ensuring complete compliance, and fostering cross-company collaboration. Kripalu and Aarif Aziz, chief human resources officer of Diageo India, worked programmatically with other functions to deepen and institutionalize each of the four culture pillars. This case outlines Diageo India's initiatives and efforts in each of the pillars. Set in 2020, the case also looks at the extraordinary circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic, which prompted the company to accelerate its culture-building efforts. The case closes with Kripalu and Aziz discussing how the gains made at Diageo India thus far could be institutionalized and how to sustain the cultural transformation they had initiated.