Innovative organizations define leading edges by creating them. For Hen Ron, chief information security officer and global infrastructure manager for the popular at-home bubbly beverage maker SodaStream, the path to success springs from team empowerment. Ron inspires his colleagues to take the initiative to create better solutions, even if the path cuts through established protocol. That’s how he manages the tremendous responsibility for all SodaStream security operations worldwide. “My role allows me to positively impact the business,” he says. “I get to play a significant role in the organization’s growth and planning its future needs.”
For a leader charged with ensuring a company’s information security, encouraging his team to step outside the lines may seem counterintuitive, a risky strategy. Aren’t security officers by nature cautious, vigilant, even wary? But in the realm of cybersecurity, threats come fast and furious, unexpectedly, and can shut operations down in a heartbeat. The best defense is an effective offense.
Ron knows his security team must stay one, two, even ten or more steps ahead of a relentless tsunami of cybersecurity threats. And the best way to keep team members on their toes? Empower them to be proactive, a core value defining SodaStream success since its founding more than a century ago.
“I need to be continually familiar with the best information security solutions on the market. Without this knowledge, our ability to produce or sell products might be at risk.” But safeguarding business operations requires a deft touch—like the adage about holding onto something too tightly—just enough control, but not too much, is key. Ron and his team must tread a fine balance between security and the organization’s commercial needs. “On the one hand, I need to respond quickly and provide the right technology solutions for the organization,” he says. “On the other, I must be alert to inadvertently opening a back door that exposes SodaStream to risks.”
And as SodaStream has grown and evolved, so have those risks. “In the past, we were more concerned with local dangers,” Ron says. “But today we worry about global threats that could affect the entire company.” And these concerns aren’t limited to the security space. The manufacturing industry faces myriad challenges that must be met head-on. “One is the need for innovation,” he says. “The need to constantly interest the market in new and upcoming products. The other is to be more efficient and increase your profit margins. Technology provides a solution to both these challenges.”
Meeting skyrocketing global demand with forward thinking
As the world’s leading at-home sparkling water brand, SodaStream continually seeks new ways to meet demand, often under challenging conditions. This was never more evident than during the early and ongoing days of the COVID-19 pandemic when customer demand for SodaStream products skyrocketed by dozens of percent—just as global supply chains ground to a halt. “Despite all the disruption, I needed cutting-edge IT solutions that could be centrally managed from our head offices in Israel to our many dozens of sites across 20 countries,” Ron says. “The right solutions meant I was able to ensure that SodaStream was getting its products to the right place at the right time.”
Another challenge, albeit positive, came with the USD $3.4 billion acquisition of SodaStream by PepsiCo in 2018. “Suddenly, everyone became more aware of SodaStream, with new challenges appearing daily. This meant increased demand on our teams and technology,” says Ron. “My job is to make sure the infrastructure I provide to the organization enables us to respond faster than our challenges.”
Anticipating these challenges and finding workable solutions requires a forward-thinking and tech-savvy approach from SodaStream. “Global challenges require global mindsets and global solutions,” he says.
Accelerating decisively as “One SodaStream”
With so many competing priorities to tackle under pressure, Ron highlights the need for a robust, competent team. “I lead a full-scale team that thrives on providing answers, be that for information security challenges, implementation, integrating solutions or network monitoring.” Ron’s team is unified under the organization’s “One SodaStream” approach, which supports team member members worldwide to focus on a common set of goals and objectives, working as one body rather than individuals.
The “One SodaStream” policy supports Ron’s dynamic approach to leadership. “It’s part of SodaStream’s ‘Six Count’ vision. We work as a team, as one body, not as individuals, but as a whole team with goals and objectives—together.”
“I have the full trust of senior management and in turn, my team has my full trust. I can push them to think outside the box and run with new ideas to make things work better.” In practice, team members often forge their own path to success where they identify new ways of improving operations. “We don’t always follow standard processes and we shy away from traditional A-to-Z workflows. Instead, we are creative, working together to squeeze more out of our solutions than others would be able to,” he explains.
The company’s focus on sustainability and health further unites the team in its shared mission. One SodaStream PET bottle—reusable for up to three years—can displace as many as 3,070 disposable plastic bottles. SodaStream estimates that by 2025, its reusable glass and plastic bottles will have prevented as many as 67 billion single-use bottles from littering the planet. “Of all the plastic ever produced,” says Ron, “less than 10 percent has ever been recycled. The rest ended up in the natural environment.” The company’s commitment to reducing its negative impact on the earth extends to its vision for improving human health as well. Creating sparkling beverages at home helps reduce soda consumption, especially the sugary kind, encouraging people to consume and crave the healthiest beverage of all—water.
SodaStream rates consistently among the top at-home fizzy beverage systems globally. Asked what drives the company’s continued popularity, Ron replies, without hesitation: “People. These people come to work to give their best. They care about the organization and about society,” he says. “At the end of the day, it is not a one-man show. My team are very loyal and care deeply about how we can effect change. If it were not for our team working as one, SodaStream would not be where it is today.”
Ron inspires his team to take their jobs personally, to own their role in the company’s success. His simple advice? “Do your best to make the business great today—and even better tomorrow.”