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  • Mars Inc is one of the biggest family-owned companies in the world, with more than $35 billion (almost R460 billion) in annual sales.
  • The 106-year-old company is known for its iconic candy brands, including Snickers, M&Ms, Milky Way, and Twix. But the company's biggest business is its pet-care business.
  • Business Insider spoke to Mars chair Stephen Badger, the great-grandson of founder Franklin Mars, about what he has learned about leadership during his role at the company.
  • Badger said that two of his biggest career mistakes thus far have been not listening to his gut enough and not embracing trends quickly enough. 


Mars Inc — the company behind iconic candy brands like Snickers, Twix, M&Ms — is one of the biggest family-owned companies in the world. 

What's more, the $35 billion company still has family members playing key roles in running the business. 

One of those family members is Stephen Badger, the great-grandson of Mars' founder, Franklin Mars.

Badger currently serves as the company's chair, but he has also worked as the global director of corporate affairs and served as the president of Seeds of Change, a Mars subsidiary that makes organic food.

During his career at the company, Badger said he has learned a lot about leadership. And when he reflects on his experience thus far, he said there are two common business mistakes that he's made and that he cautions others against making. 

"I think the biggest mistake classically, and that I certainly would have been guilty of ... is not listening to your gut when you know something isn't right," Badger said.

When we first launched into food products, I had a sensibility that the food products weren't right. And you know what, lo and behold, it turned out to be true. So I think trusting your gut is critical."

The other business mistake Badger cautioned against was not embracing trends quickly enough. 

"Somebody said the other day very few businesses fail for moving too quickly," Badger said. 

Badger said this is especially applicable to larger companies, but it's also relevant for small businesses. 

"I think trusting your gut and moving at pace would probably be the two things I wish I'd done more of in my career," Badger said. 

Badger said he's also learned a lot about how to make a family business run smoothly. His No. 1 piece of advice there? Equality. 

"The most important thing I've learned working for a family business is that everybody is equal as an individual. Everybody's opinion counts," Badger said. 

"It doesn't mean that everybody's opinion is what's going to get implemented. But everybody's opinion counts. And I think that is the way we run Mars."

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