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New Belgium CEO reveals recipe for corporate culture

Tuesday, June 16, 2015  
Posted by: Barbara Francella
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"I like to collaborate — but I am super big on winning," New Belgium Brewery CEO Kim Jordan told more than 130 NEW members and supporters at the NEW Denver Spring Learning Event, June 9, 2015 at Mile High Station in Denver.

Jordan shared her story of founding of the brewery, what it is like to be a woman CEO in a male-dominated industry and creating a successful corporate culture.

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The culture at New Belgium Brewery, now a 640-employee business, is based on employee ownership, a high-involvement culture, environmental stewardship and a balance of masculine and feminine, Jordan said, adding she strives to inject fun into the work day. "I work in the beer business – if you can’t have fun here, you’d better check your fun meter,” she said.

To encourage fun, leaders need to give permission for the workplace to feel fun. "You have to feel like the people you work with have your back, let you be who you are, support you to do your best, laugh a lot and make opportunities for fun."

Describing industry competition as "fabulous," Jordan says the contest to win consumers makes the company's leaders smarter and drives innovation.

She relies on employee input when naming New Belgium Brewery's beer. In fact, employees name a lot of things in the office, including trash cans, "because everything is better when it's named."

Referring to the company as a "tribe,” Jordan detailed New Belgium Brewery's emphasis on inclusion and investment in its talent. Company retreats are attended by all, from janitors to top management. "It’s important to know people," Jordan said, "to like them, to feel good about them.”

Organizations sending delegations to the event include Altria, Frito-Lay, King Soopers, MillerCoors and WhiteWave Foods.

NEW Denver officers at the region's spring learning event, June 9, 2015.

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