Marketing Club Kick-Starts Distinguished Speakers Series with P&G Veteran

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”

That was the parting message Bob McDonald, the Vice Chairman of P&G’s Global Operations, left the audience to ponder as he concluded his speech on the “Characteristics of Great Leaders” last Tuesday afternoon in an event organized by the Marketing Club as part of its Distinguished Speakers Series. McDonald, a twenty-five year veteran of P&G and a former U.S. Army Captain, was standing in for A.J. Lafley, P&G’s Chairman and CEO, who was prevented from attending the event by knee surgery.

Addressing a full audience in the Spangler auditorium, McDonald spoke on many aspects of leadership, focusing particularly on the personal lessons he learned in leading P&G’s many businesses and operations across the world. What distinguished his speech from many other similar events, however, was his ability to use stories and personal experiences to illustrate his points. Of particular interest was the story of P&G’s phoenix-like rise from the doldrums in June 2000 when P&G lost over 50 percent of its share value in two weeks and was clearly losing market share.

The strategic choices which led P&G recovery were fascinating in and of themselves for those interested in marketing strategy, but McDonald underlined how great leadership was needed to force P&G to accept reality and to mobilize the organization to act on the difficult choices needed to turn the company around.

For those who missed the event or for the eager amongst you who neglected to bring a pen and paper to the event, here is quick summary of Bob McDonald’s personal reflections on leadership. The Marketing Club has also indicated that a video recording will be posted on their website.

1. Everyone wants to succeed

2. Success is contagious

3. Putting people in the right jobs is one of the most important jobs of a leader

4. Character is one of the most important traits of a leader

5. Choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong

6. Ineffective systems and cultures are bigger barriers to achievement than the talents of people

7. There will be some people in the organization who will not make it on the journey

8. Organizations must renew themselves

9. Recruiting is a top priority

10. The true test of a leader is the performance of the organization when they are absent or after they depart.