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Life at McCormick May 27, 2021

How McCormick China Group's Shaohui He Supports Farming Communities and Charities

Shaohui He; Associate Director of Agriculture, Procurement, and Indirect; McCormick China Group

 

A native of Guangzhou, China, Shaohui He joined McCormick 26 years ago as a Finance Manager based in the Guangzhou office, where he is currently the Associate Director of Agriculture, Procurement, and Indirect. He says that one of the best parts of his McCormick journey has been the opportunity to take different career paths. He worked in various roles in Finance for 17 years before moving to the International Trade Compliance Manager in the Asia Pacific Zone (APZ). 

In his current role, Shaohui works closely with suppliers and collaborates directly with farming communities; assuring optimal cost, quality, delivery, and innovation of products. He also evaluates market trends and new product offerings to introduce new flavors to McCormick Hot and Spicy. He often travels with suppliers as they work to find new uses for the red pepper, a widely consumed ingredient in every province in China, where it has grown for more than 500 years. Together they teach farmers good agricultural practices to maximize the flavor of the red pepper, help them set up quality control processes, and develop sustainable standards. "I appreciate seeing agriculture at every stage – from beginning to end – beginning with the quality of the land where our products grow to the tables where they are consumed," he said.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, McCormick China, like many, has learned to adapt, pivot, and adjust. Fortunately, most of the farmers Shaohui works with have the technology to stay connected to suppliers and production teams with whom they have not been able to meet in person. Video conferencing, digital photography, and working from home have also played an important role in allowing employees to continue to support the food market. With inter-provincial travel in China beginning to open up, Shaohui remains optimistic and already feels a sense of normalcy returning.

A lifelong passion for travel has led Shaohui to visit 20 of China's 23 provinces and four of its five divisions. He enjoys speaking and interacting with locals, which allows him to experience the authentic local culture, including the cuisine, of the region he is visiting. "Whether I am in a modern city, a mountain range, or a lake region, I always discover new flavors and foods. As I learn about life in the areas I visit, I gain a broader perspective," he said. Shaohui shares McCormick's belief that flavor has the power to bring people together through shared experiences and is a unifying force for good that can improve lives. 

Back in 2004, Shaohui helped form the McConstellation Team – a group of volunteers across McCormick China that supports poverty-stricken communities in the Guangzhou province. Today, the team visits villages to assess first-hand what their needs are and then works to create a plan to provide them with the essentials. Most of the time, communities require educational support. In China, attending school up to the ninth grade is free, but many students cannot afford to purchase books, uniforms, and other necessary school supplies. And, in areas where students live very far from a school, the cost of boarding is high and may keep them from attending. By partnering with social workers and local charitable organizations, the McConstellation Team raises funds and distributes donations to schools and students. Typically, this means purchasing new desks and chairs and improving living accommodations. 

In 2010, the McConstellation Team received the McCormick Community Service Award, a program that rewards employees for their community volunteer work, and was given $20,000, which allowed them to finish building a  new school for a village in need a year later. The team knows they are making a difference. They have already seen many of the students they help graduate from universities and begin their careers. "Being part of initiatives like this one makes McCormick feel like a family, where we all work together and take care of each other," Shaohui said.

"I can personally relate to McCormick's purpose To Stand Together for the Future of Flavor," Shaohui stated. "It aligns with our business strategy and with procurement teams who stand together with the sourcing community. Every time I support farmers and encourage suppliers to be sustainable and to take care of the environment, I am helping achieve our 2025 Purpose-led Performance goals  and that makes me proud."

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