Mallika Monteiro is Constellation’s Executive Vice President, Chief Growth, Strategy & Digital Officer, and a member of the Executive Management Committee.
In this role, Mallika leads teams that are focused on driving innovation, delivering on current and future trends through consumer insights, and enabling industry-leading digital transformation. Consumer-led decision-making drives all aspects of our business, and Mallika is focused on executing against Constellation’s innovation strategy and emerging brands pipeline – with exciting launches to come – and continuing to invest in capabilities that allow us to cement our leadership position in the digital space.
In honor of Women’s History Month, we connected with Mallika to learn more about her journey as a visionary leader in beverage alcohol and how she’s shaping the future she wants to see in the industry:
You have nearly two decades of experience in the beverage alcohol industry. In your view, what needs to change for there to be more women leaders in this space?
When I was starting in this industry, there weren’t many female leaders at senior levels. When I look around the industry today, I see more women and more diverse faces, but we’ve still got a lot of work to do.
I’ve always fully believed in the idea that you can’t stop at being the “first and only” woman in a company, on a board, or in any position of power. And if you’re the last, then we haven’t done enough to make it possible for other women to ascend to those leadership roles.
The data is clear – there’s power in having more diverse seats at the table, but increasingly, women are leaving the workforce1 due to lack of opportunity to advance, burnout, lack of support, and other factors, a situation made worse during and after the pandemic. For more women to secure senior leadership roles, companies need to improve how we develop and retain talent at all levels.
In the beverage alcohol industry specifically, I know firsthand that there is challenging and innovative work being done across the board and lots of opportunity for growth for women. For us to see more women leaders in this industry, I think companies need to be able to create and foster environments for those women to be successful, which includes offering competitive pay, great benefits, an inclusive company culture, access to senior executives and management, challenging career paths, and development opportunities to shape us for long, successful careers as leaders.
Ultimately, we need to bring more women into environments where we will be set up to thrive.
Here at Constellation, we not only believe empowering women to succeed fosters equity and a balanced perspective in our industry and beyond, but we are actively paving the path for female leaders through our training and development programs, corporate social responsibility strategies, and diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. We have made measurable progress in these areas, and I’m excited about the impact we continue to make in our company, our communities, and industry overall.
What is a professional accomplishment you are most proud of?
As one starts to advance and have more opportunities to influence business decisions, it’s important to ask yourself, what could you do – within your sphere of influence – to help foster progress?
Working in innovation and emerging categories, I noted the lack of female-founded brands and female-led organizations which left a gap and unmet need in the marketplace. That’s when I pitched an idea of investing in female founders. In 2018, we officially launched Constellation’s Focus on Female Founders initiative, which is our commitment to invest $100 million in female-founded businesses by 2028.
Today, I am proud to say we are at 75% of our goal and have shifted our Ventures portfolio from 20% to nearly 50% female-led or founded brands. Archer Roose Wines, Kerr Cellars, Sapere Wines, Conniption Gin, and PRESS Seltzer are some of our incredible female-founded brands focused on making the next generation of beverage alcohol products even more representative of our consumers across the country – and there’s still more runway.
Even in 2021, women-owned companies received only 2% of venture capital2 and accounted for only 4% of revenue and 6% of employment. But additional data shows that female-founded startups that get funded are more likely to succeed3, hire more women, and help close the pay gap4. This presents a huge opportunity for us to continue supporting the professional advancement and development of women by providing resources to women-founded businesses and creating a better path to success.
Female-founded businesses don't have an idea, passion, or execution problem – they are limited instead by closed doors, lack of access to capital, and narrow networks and access to experts. CBI's Focus on Female Founders initiative was designed to flip that script. Supporting women remains a core part of our strategy and I’m personally and professionally motivated by having a hand in actively shaping the future of the industry I want to see when it comes to female-founded businesses.
What advice would you give to other leaders to help them and their teams thrive?
My first piece of advice for leaders is to be willing to take guidance from others but, most importantly, be committed to getting out there and finding out what works best for you and your teams in practice.
For me, staying true to my values, making authentic connections, and identifying what makes me happy as a person has kept me grounded, which I think carries over into my role as a leader. Succeeding in life takes a village, and having a strong community – whether it’s family, friends, or other connections – has provided me with both a support system and a sounding board that has been so important throughout my life and my career.
Second, leaders should be looking for people to champion, or sponsor, not just mentor. A champion is a person who advocates for you behind closed doors, puts your name forward when a job opportunity opens up, and invests in your growth. Women need people in their corner who have the power to recognize an opportunity and do something about it. As leaders, we have the opportunity to do the same – pick people you’re going to champion and be that voice in the room for someone.
If we spend more time building champions, both leaders and teams will benefit. I have personally benefited from some incredible champions throughout my career and am always finding ways to pay it forward.
Third, we should be committed to allyship amongst women. 2023 is the year of the hype woman and I love that! There are times when women’s voices get drowned out (either virtually or in person) or other people take credit for our work. Instead, reinforce other women’s ideas in the room or in the meeting so people know who should get the credit – and create the space for other women to speak up and be heard.
Who is a woman that inspires you and why?
I come from a long line of strong women – my grandmother, and my mother, and her five sisters. My grandmother was a formidable role model for all of us – founding and running a globally influenced non-profit in India, fundraising internationally, and making a real difference in her community all while raising six daughters. That was very unusual in India in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. But she was tenacious and driven, and believed in the arts and education, and being a force for good.
When I was a child, my mother co-founded a non-profit focused on helping women in India become economically self-sufficient – and she's still active today. The commitment to raising up other women, to making the most of the opportunities we have, and to making an impact were all early lessons for me and are ones I hope to pass on to my own daughters.
What does Women’s History Month mean to you?
We need to be championing, investing in, and supporting women every day – not just in March.
Of course, it’s important to recognize women for their success and contributions, but we need to be action-oriented to drive real results. The business and the industry need to think about and create opportunities for growth all year round and make sure they are consistently delivering on their end to help women thrive.
If we are going to make the progress we want to make, supporting women needs to be a focus all year.
1 According to data from McKinsey & Company
2 According to data from Pitchbook, an M&A, private equity and VC database
3 According to June 2018 BCG Why Women-Owned Startups Are a Better Bet
4 According to Kauffman Fellows