Teoman Buyan, Global CIO at S.M. Jaleel, explains how the right company culture is making all the difference during a technology transformation at the largest non-alcoholic drinks manufacturer in the English-speaking Caribbean


S. M. Jaleel & Company (SMJ) is a different breed of business. Almost a century old, the non-alcoholic drinks manufacturer distributes its beverages to over 60 countries around the world – and yet it’s retained its community-focused culture and collaborative, flexible way of conducting business. A lot of this is thanks to the type of people SMJ has on its team: enter Teoman Buyan, Global CIO; driving a technology transformation.

Buyan is an engineer by education and had worked for Caterpillar, Sony, Microsoft – some of the largest organisations in the world. At Microsoft, he worked more with software and honing his technological expertise, until he eventually took on a CIO role. Buyan became something of a guru in emerging markets and took that knowledge to his next role with Coca-Cola.

Teoman Buyan, Global CIO

The opportunity with SMJ came at exactly the right time. “They said, ‘We’d like to utilise your skills’,” he says. “’We want your knowledge of the consumer goods industry – tell us how to do things right!’ The culture really attracted me and knowing that I’d be a valued leader for a growing beverage company.”

Technology transformation

“SMJ wanted to be an international player in the beverages space, and it needed a foundational technology transformation to achieve that,” explains Buyan. “That’s where enterprise retail planning (ERP) came in. It plans everything like an SAP system, and we chose Epicor Kinetic for that because Epicor is a visionary ERP company. Plus, one of the advantages of choosing the right technology partner is that you can go with their roadmap, and Epicor had a tech roadmap that we liked. Kinetic is very powerful and synchronises everything, giving us seamless integration and full visibility. That made Epicor’s solution instrumental in SMJ’s vision for the future, long-term.”

Agile business planning

The future’s bright for S. M. Jaleel. Many people are back in their workplaces and children are back at school, which has given the sale of non-alcoholic beverages a boost, and SMJ is fully prepared for that acceleration in business thanks to the transformation it’s undergone over the last few years. “Good planning has made all the difference for us,” Buyan says. 

“The worst of the pandemic is over, so that’s one variable out of the way, and the supply chain is always a challenge, but good planning and investing in the future is going to be what sustains a successful culture for the next three-to-five years. There’s increased demand for innovative products – plant milks and better juices – and the Caribbean has the resources to provide that. Plus, Epicor has a great forecasting tool which helps companies align resource planning, which for a manufacturing company like SMJ, is really helpful. It also makes us think about which demographics to go for next, as well as what types of products.”

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