Case Studies

Novelis: How Adjusted EBITDA increased 119% year over year

In 2016, Novelis, the leading sustainable aluminum solutions provider and world leader in aluminum rolling and recycling with more than 14,000 employees in 10 countries, had a moment of reckoning. Under new leadership and embarking on a partnership to supply the largest aluminum-intensive automotive launch ever, Novelis faced one of the biggest challenges in its history.

Compounding its situation, Novelis was dealing with declining financial performance, conflicting priorities, poor customer satisfaction, organizational silos, lack of accountability, and employee confusion and frustration.

It was time for radical change.

Transform the culture, transform the company

President and CEO Steve Fisher, along with other company leaders, acknowledged that culture was something Novelis, as a company, hadn’t harnessed as potential. Instead, Novelis’ culture had been allowed to evolve organically over more than a decade, without a return to shared clarity and purpose that would empower employees during times of market change and stress. From multi-level management to teams operating the shop floor on four different continents, Novelis decided to look inside.

In the spring of 2016, Novelis began to take that look and, through a rigorous process, create the company’s cultural beliefs. “It took a tremendous amount of input, discussion, and thought from employees across the company,” said Fisher. 

Cultural beliefs and the “Focused 5” at Novelis

Novelis leadership identified the link between culture, engagement, and productivity. They developed the following beliefs, activating employee feedback and accountability to reorient Novelis toward common goals:

Do It Right

I safely deliver quality, cost-effective solutions to my customers.

Say Anything

I listen actively, speak candidly, and challenge respectfully.

Own It!

I take accountability to deliver the Focused 5.

Get Focused

I demonstrate discipline and follow through to accelerate flawless execution.

Win Together

I constantly reach out across boundaries to ensure Novelis succeeds.

In addition, Novelis articulated the “Focused 5,” goals that the company’s cultural beliefs would support and drive forward: Safety, Customer Centricity, Quality, Operational Excellence, and Return on Capital Employed.

“We can never overestimate the power of a strong and unified company culture. It plays a huge role in any organization’s success, from employee safety and engagement, to customer satisfaction and operational performance. What we’re doing today is being deliberate in deciding what we want our culture to be – how we need to think and act to be successful.”

Steve Fisher
President & CEO

Being transparent about success (and risk)

If Novelis hadn’t articulated the size of the challenges it faced and identified its weaknesses, the issues would have continued and posed a “risk to the business, customers, industry and employees.” This is language lifted from Novelis’ own written reflections following cultural process and growth. Following its moment of reckoning, Novelis listened and engaged its workforce in the cultural conversation, implementing workshops and harnessing its own potential anew. Those workshops continue to this day.

The results? After six years of active cultural management, Novelis reported in Q1 of 2022:

  • Net income increased 597% year over year
  • Adjusted EBITDA increased 119% year over year
  • Net sales increased 59% year over year

“There is simply no way for Novelis to be its best without clear goals and objectives, a culture that truly supports and reflects our beliefs, and a workforce of empowered and motivated employees.”

Steve Fisher
President & CEO

When employees craft the culture story

Novelis has also built continued opportunities for employees to tell its culture story: asking for on-the-job experiences with focused reflections on how these experiences demonstrate the company’s cultural beliefs and contribute to achieving its goals. These experiences and reflections tell a deeper story of a strong culture. 

“I want to see this culture be so deeply embedded in the way we do business at Novelis that it lives on for years and years, regardless of who is running the company,” said Fisher. “I’m that committed to this transformation and believe we have identified the key cultural beliefs that will lead us to better results.”

As a result of this committed “Win Together” culture work, Novelis has become a transformational model for other companies, and a leader in sustainability and technology for the world.

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