Jim Baldwin

The words “company culture” often conjure up images of ping-pong tables, casual Fridays, and off-site team building. But at Dr Pepper Snapple Group (DPS), culture is being defined by efficiency and a quest for continuous improvement.

Jim Baldwin Executive Vice President & General Counsel Dr Pepper Snapple Group VITALS: Starting his corporate career with Dr Pepper, Baldwin became general counsel within 18 months of going in-house, but with Mott’s—a sibling subsidiary of Cadbury Schweppes, which previously owned Dr Pepper. Though the learning curve was steep, it exposed him to every aspect of the business.
Jim Baldwin
Executive Vice President & General Counsel
Dr Pepper Snapple Group
VITALS: Starting his corporate career with Dr Pepper, Baldwin became general counsel within 18 months of going in-house, but with Mott’s—a sibling subsidiary of Cadbury Schweppes, which previously owned Dr Pepper. Though the learning curve was steep, it exposed him to every aspect of the business.

Jim Baldwin and the legal team are playing an important role in that transformation. As the architect of the beverage company’s code of conduct and a champion of its commitment to improvement, Baldwin is never satisfied with the status quo.

Having joined DPS when it was still a subsidiary of Cadbury Schweppes, Baldwin was familiar with the code of conduct that was intended as a resource for employees—and he became aware of an opportunity to improve it. “The old code read like a user manual,” he says. “It was black and white and full of legalistic language. The industry trend is to make codes more engaging and accessible.” Baldwin took it upon himself to revamp the code. The revision complements the principles of the old code with engaging hypotheticals, Q&As, and employee and product photos. The result is a revamped, understandable, and employee-friendly code of conduct and ethics that is on a par with the best codes of other leading public companies.

In 2010, DPS’s CFO, Marty Ellen, set out to create a mind-set at the company of “rapid continuous improvement,” (RCI) which is about excelling at delivering customer value, eliminating waste, and improving productivity. The philosophy caught fire. In its first three years, the RCI way of doing business inspired 350 “kaizens,” dedicated improvement projects carried out by 4,300 employees across 60 locations, resulting in the company exceeding its $150 million three-year savings goal in just two-and-a-half years.

While inventory through the RCI program has been reduced by 45 percent, in Baldwin’s legal department, everything from invoicing to management of litigation to contracts is being optimized. All of his attorneys, and several of his support staff, have participated in one  kaizen  or another, and Baldwin himself has joined numerous kaizen teams to offer a different perspective. “We bring an additional viewpoint and an ability to streamline processes based on our own knowledge of the business, and we work well cross-functionally within the RCI environment,” he says of the team.


“To function as a strategic business partner, a GC should first know the business well, be a good listener, and be adept at solving complex problems.”

Being a strong supporter of RCI from the start, Baldwin says the influence and partnership with other teams across the company helps bring legal out from a silo that often isolates it at other enterprises. The DPS legal team is embedded within the commercial teams, aggressively supporting their ongoing commercial goals. “The legal team is at the table at the outset of new initiatives [and] has been successful in partnering with other functions to implement RCI’s goals,” he says. “In the end, we are all focused on the same goals—the overall strategy and success of the company and our shareholders.”  —michelle markelz