CEO Corner


Chief Executive Magazine -

Cyber Risk Forum  ||  Boardroom Summit  ||  Leadership Conference
Smart Manufacturing Summit ||  Talent Summit


Cyber Risk Forum

April 16, 2018
San Francisco, CA
In Partnership With the RSA Conference

The 3rd annual Cyber Risk Forum will explore emerging trends, prevalent threats and strategic opportunities surrounding cyber security. Developed exclusively for CEOs and board members, the program will help participants successfully understand, devise and implement enterprise-wide cybersecurity strategies.

Boards are increasingly becoming aware that information protection is a legal, bottom-line and reputational risk that can not just be relegated to the IT department. Additionally, smart companies know that IT security can be an enabler to create a competitive advantage and innovate in new markets.


Boardroom Summit

April 23-25, 2018
New York, NY
Featuring keynote speaker world renowned board consultant Ram Charan

The Boardroom Summit, featuring the original Board Committee Peer Exchange, will provide an unparalleled opportunity to share ideas and exchange solutions to today’s greatest board leadership and governance challenges.

Through a mix of energizing keynotes and panels, interactive breakouts, and roll-up-your-sleeves committee workshops, participants will gain actionable best practices and guidance to make an immediate impact in their boardrooms.


Smart Manufacturing Summit

June 6-7, 2018
Columbus, OH

Co-hosted by Honda USA

The 2018 Smart Manufacturing Summit is the premier event to discuss the strategies, tactics and opportunities for success with the best minds in manufacturing. Your takeaways will include insights for improving operating efficiency, increasing agility, enhancing quality, improving global competitiveness, recruiting better talent and more.

It includes a tour of a Honda facility and a keynote by a Honda USA executive.


CEO Talent Summit

October 1-3, 2018
West Point, NY


Your talent challenges require fresh perspectives and new strategies.

Effectively managing your people in the workplace today requires real-world experience and a constant balance of competing priorities. The issue demands your time and attention in new ways. Having the right team in place, from the top down, is essential to a winning strategy.

The 2018 CEO Talent Summit will bring together CEOs and leading thinkers in an interactive, intimate environment to discuss strategies for building high-performing organizations with a focus on human capital, talent development and retention, and corporate culture.

Don’t miss the opportunity to network with peers and learn from industry experts. Limited to 125 participants, you’ll develop new contacts and relationships from across the spectrum of American business, and come away with real strategies you can put to work right away.

Located at the Historic Thayer Hotel at West Point, a mix of learning experiences in and out of a traditional classroom will provide a unique opportunity to explore talent issues through different lenses and new perspectives. Register today to get a leg up on the competition.


Leadership Conference

November 8-9, 2018
Phoenix, AZ

Coming off of the best Leadership Summit (November 2-3, 2017) we have ever had featuring highly acclaimed keynote speaker Jim Collins, CEOs are eager to sign up in advance for next year’s Leadership Summit. This event is sure to be a day full of thought leadership and learning.


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From Intern To CEO: Southland Industries’ Ted Lynch Shares His Story

Chief Executive Magazine -

Southland Industries CEO Ted Lynch.

Southland Industries CEO Ted Lynch brings a unique perspective to the job, having started out with the engineering and contracting company as an intern and working his way up to the top.

Before being named CEO in 2011, he grew Southland’s Mid-Atlantic Division’s annual volume from $32 million to $126 during his time as division leader, and under his leadership as CEO, Lynch has pushed Southland to adopt innovative new technologies, including advanced fluid dynamics modeling that was adopted from the automotive and aerospace industries. Lynch also received his doctoral degree in architectural engineering from Penn State University, and co-founded the Partnership for Achieving Construction Excellence (PACE).

Chief Executive sat down with Lynch to talk about the unique perspective he’s gained in 20-plus years with the same organization, how the engineering and construction industry is evolving and what he looks for form management within his team.

Q: What were some of the big lessons you learned while moving up within Southland Industries from intern to CEO?

A: The fact that I’ve spent my whole career here and worked my way up from intern to where I am now is a unique situation. You don’t see too many people stay with the same company that long. I never imagined myself as CEO and never planned for it. It’s been an interesting ride, and to be where I’m at today, I’m certainly as surprised as anyone and I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity.

The opportunity to see all of the different parts of our business and to work in many different locations allowed me to understand the nuts and bolts of what the company is about and what we do. I think that gives me the unique perspective sitting where I am today.

“Having the experience of seeing it all and doing it has been really invaluable to me as I sit in the CEO position.”

I think I’ve seen just about everything and nothing really surprises me. After my internship, when I started full-time with the company I asked to go work out on a construction crew to see what that was about.

One of the early lessons I learned from that was, despite the reputation of construction workers, most of these guys want to work hard and put a full day’s work in, but the things that prevented us from doing that were typically management impacts. For example, did we have the up-to-date drawings and information we needed? Did we have the right tools and materials? So there were all these things that could be very frustrating for a construction worker that played into my mind as I became a manager later.

Having the experience of seeing it all and doing it has been really invaluable to me as I sit in the CEO position.

Q: Is it a challenge getting clients to understand the full scope of Southland’s scope of capabilities as a full-service design and construction firm?

A: Since the company’s inception we’ve always done engineering and construction, so we’ve always billed ourselves as design/builders. But I think it’s always been a challenging sale for us, because most of the industry doesn’t operate that way.

Going back to my experience with the company, having seen the engineering and construction capabilities first-hand, one of the things I saw as an opportunity was a much tighter integration of those functions, and of building operations, too.

So I would say this is the next evolution of the industry—it’s not just an integration of design and build, it’s bringing in all of the different parts and players in a construction project in at one time at the beginning of a project and having them work together. It’s a much more evolved approach.

Q: What are the key attributes you look for in candidates when adding to your leadership team at Southland?

A: If you look at our company, we’ve grown a lot and have aspirations to be a fairly large organization, so the first thing I’m looking for is people with experience with large organizations. Being that this is the only company I’ve ever worked for, it’s helpful to have people that have the larger project experience to share that and tell me this is what it really should look like.

Team chemistry is important. Not only the chemistry I have with that person, but it’s important that my entire leadership team gets to know that candidate before we hire them and that they fit in well, have that collaborative approach and that our team can work together with that person.

And it’s really important that they know the position, have done it before and have experience and a track record of success. They should be the expert when they come in.


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FM Global CEO Highlights Risk Management Tips For 2018

Chief Executive Magazine -

With natural disasters including devastating hurricanes, horrific wildfires and widespread floods making big headlines this year, CEOs have their antennae up when it comes to risk management and what they can do to protect their businesses from the unexpected.

FM Global president and CEO Tom Lawson knows the risks companies and CEOs face, as his mutual insurance company specializes in loss prevention services to large corporations. A 35-year veteran with FM Global who was appointed CEO in 2014, Lawson previously managed the company’s insurance operations in North America, South America, Europe-Middle East-Africa and Asia-Pacific in his role as executive vice president.

Chief Executive sat down with Lawson to talk about recent incidents and how business leaders can best prepare their organizations to handle what may lie ahead in 2018.

Q: What are some big risk areas CEOs should have on their radar screen as we move in to 2018?

A: There’s nothing like a lot of catastrophes to remind people of what kind of risks are out there. Taking a step back, I think the biggest risk is not making loss prevention and risk management part of your strategic planning. I think some companies do a phenomenal job with that, but sometimes that type of thing doesn’t make it to the top of the list when people are putting together their strategies and business plans.

“The biggest risk is not making loss prevention and risk management part of your strategic planning.”

I think we’ve seen evidence of companies that do include this planning in their approach do much better. They’re the ones, after the event, that not only maintain their operations, but are actually taking advantage of the fact that some of their competitors didn’t. They can increase market share and profitability simply by making risk management/loss prevention part of their strategy.

There are some good examples of that with the recent string of catastrophes—whether it’s Hurricane Harvey, or both of the earthquakes in Mexico, or the California wildfires, or the floods in South Africa—some companies came through that very well, and some companies didn’t. The companies that are interested in identifying where those risks are, where the loss could happen, how likely is it to happen and how large could it be, but most importantly how they can prevent the loss do much better in profitability, share price and market share. They really turn risk management and loss prevention into a competitive advantage in their marketplace.

Q: What steps are companies taking to mitigate risk once they recognize the importance of planning for potential problems?

A: It all starts with knowledge and an awareness of where that risk is and some quantification. But the real knowledge lies in how you take that situation and provide the loss prevention technology and the expertise to help prevent the loss. It’s one thing to know you’re in a flood zone or in an earthquake-prone area. The second part is asking “What can I do about that?” And, lastly, “How do I get that done?” Knowing you have a problem is just the beginning, it’s really how you use that knowledge to your advantage.

Q: Why should business owners in areas that aren’t hotspots for natural disasters still focus on risk management?

A: It’s about making people understand what they’re up against. If you have a facility on the San Andreas Fault you’re probably attuned to earthquakes, because you probably live somewhere close. If you’re in the middle of the Midwest and it’s about needing to protect a facility from fire, that may not be at the top of your list.

A CEO may not fully understand the fact that a facility needs sprinklers, but if you tell them that if they have a fire at that location it will put them out of business for two months and have an impact on their market share, then they get it.

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How To Build The Right Bridges With Your CFO

Chief Executive Magazine -

Successful businesses are built on a mix of the leadership team’s vision, sound execution, and a profitable engine. The CEO carries a heavy burden, but it is the synergy with surrounding players like the CFO that opens doors to stability and steady growth.

The importance of the relationship between the CFO and CEO cannot be overstated. They must be in lockstep, keeping their finger on the pulse of the present situation while gearing the organization for the future.

But according to a recent survey of financial executives by AAFCPAs, that relationship is not yielding the harmony needed to thrive. Sixty percent of respondents reported moderate to high levels of difficulty in meeting the expectations of executive leadership; this is striking, given the critical nature of the role.

“The importance of the relationship between the CFO and CEO cannot be overstated. They must be in lockstep, keeping their finger on the pulse of the present situation while gearing the organization for the future.”

As a CEO looking to establish or accelerate the rhythm of the business, here are three questions to consider to support a successful CFO/CEO relationship:

1. Are you supporting the “CFO sprawl?” CFOs are no longer just “running the numbers,” and they are consistently challenged by growing expectations from different internal departments, as well as external stakeholders. The finance function touches almost every area of the business, and senior financial executives are expected to understand everything from marketing to IT to human resources to product development. Knowing how each department functions gives CFOs the full financial picture of the organization.

It is a monumental task for CFOs not only to have their hands on every piece of the organization, but also to be able to react to the CEO’s concerns or ideas in a way that considers the breadth of information to which they have access and the perspective that comes with it.

2. Are you actively cultivating your CFO relationship? Running a business inevitably leads to difficult decisions, and if both leaders are confident they are on the same page, they can better relate to one another.

That means finding common ground, developing personal ties, and promoting trust. Something as simple as investing time to get out of the office together, or sharing a meal with your families helps to develop a deeper understanding of how you each view opportunities, and how you communicate. If the chemistry is not there, it often is best to make a change as soon as possible.

3. Is your communication process effective and in sync? Direct external communications was not always part of every CFO’s role. The range of their activity, however, now demands that they interpret and deliver the numbers in a meaningful way to constituents across the organization.

Indeed, 51% of respondents reported that the task their CEO relies on them for the most is to bring clarity to the financial situation. Your CFO needs to be able to effectively tell the story, and you should establish a process that supports the CFO in that effort. In fact, you may consider holding regularly scheduled meetings to discuss how messages will be delivered.

The CEO/CFO team always has been important, but the interdependency of the roles is heightened as the complexity of business increases. Think about how much of your success as CEO is dependent on how well you relate to your CFO. When the ideal match is in place it is more than magical. Assess what you have and be mindful of how and why to build those bridges!

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CEO Doug Hammond Puts People First At NFP

Chief Executive Magazine -

NFP chairman & CEO Doug Hammond.

For NFP chairman and CEO Doug Hammond, developing and maintaining a healthy company culture and community are key. Under his leadership, the insurance brokerage and consulting company has focused on fostering a people-centric workplace through its PeopleFirst program, which provides NFP employees with opportunities for education, recognition, community service, financial strength and well-being.

But as NFP grows in size, Hammond says it becomes more challenging to make sure all of his employees are engaged and feel like an important part of the organization.

“I think that the CEO can speak at a certain level and be very consistent with the messaging, but if it isn’t happening in the field, across our hundreds of offices in the United States and in England and Canada, if we’re not speaking consistently at all levels down the chain, then it falls on deaf ears, and you just aren’t genuine,” Hammond told Chief Executive.

“One of the things I’m most proud of is this notion of unsung heroes and celebrating within our organization people that are not recognized for the value that they create every day.” – NFP CEO Doug Hammond

Hammond refers to a book by author Patrick Lencioni, “Three Signs Of a Miserable Job,” which clearly highlights areas to avoid when trying to build engaged workforces. Specifically, employees hate when they feel anonymous, irrelevant and lack any sense of measurement.

“We don’t want our employees to feel anonymous. We want to engage them in a way that is personal, where we really take time out to think about what is going on in their lives,” Hammond says. “We ask questions about how their kids are doing and how they’re doing, and how we can help them kind of advance whatever their career goals may be, and just be straight-out genuine with them.”

Making sure that employees aren’t left feeling overlooked is key, especially those who fill lower-profile, but important roles within the organization. And making sure that NFP employees know what their role is with the organization and how it contributes in the big picture is an important part of the company’s PeopleFirst initiative—whether they are in a high-visibility management position or in administration or finance.

“One of the things I’m most proud of is this notion of unsung heroes and celebrating within our organization people that are not recognized for the value that they create every day,” Hammond says. “And I think it’s also important for people where that relevance factor is so easy, like in a production role, or in a very high-optics leadership role. They need to understand that there’s so many other people within their organization where their relevance is not as clear, and it’s our job to make sure that they understand their relevance and importance to the organization every day.”

Hammond always encourages his management team to think about creating value and growth for the team members they are responsible for leading, and think a bit less about themselves, with the end goal of creating a more giving environment within NFP’s business structure.

“It sounds counterintuitive, but we’ve been doing it here for many years, and every year it seems to get better, and every year we seem to engage our employees in a more honest way,” Hammond says. “They appreciate it, and they will go the extra mile if they feel good about where they work. We do our best to appreciate it, and all of that just drives growth and more value for everyone.”

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What Winning Companies Do to Transform Themselves

Chief Executive Magazine -

The ongoing bull market obscures huge challenges for many companies. At any point, about a third of large U.S. firms endure a severe, two-year decline in their ability to create shareholder value. And of those companies, about a third fail to recover within the following five years, according to new research by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

To stay ahead of the curve, companies must fundamentally transform themselves in ways that dramatically and sustainably improve performance. And they must do this over and over, according to a new report from BCG, The Transformations That Work—and Why. In this era of always-on transformation, most companies need to undergo transformation at least once during any five-year window, the report says.

On the basis of its experience with more than 750 transformations across industries and regional markets, and by applying statistical analysis, BCG has identified several indicators of transformation success. A company whose transformation effort includes three crucial features—strategic investments in R&D; a well-communicated, formal transformation plan; and the appointment of action-oriented leaders who have a disruptive mindset—can increase long-term shareholder returns by almost 14 percentage points, according to the report.

Many companies aren’t doing enough to get ready for the future. For example, while profit margins are up 21% since 2010, investment in R&D has been flat and capital expenditures almost even. Bumper profits and low reinvestment harmonize badly with the level of disruption.

“CEOs and leaders need to show compelling plans, take immediate action, and lay the groundwork for leading with a clear vision and solid objectives.”

The report explains the indicators that lead to success in company transformation—that is, success in increasing long-term company value:

Spending on R&D and Innovation with a Long-Term Focus on Revenue Creation. In the long-term, revenue growth is the biggest factor in transformation success. But a company can’t cut and trim its way to top-quartile performance. Instead, it should aim to grow by spending on innovation that has a clear link to sales growth.

Taking a Formal Approach to Transformation—and Communicating It. CEOs and leaders need to show compelling plans, take immediate action, and lay the groundwork for leading with a clear vision and solid objectives. This kind of bold action and clear communication can help establish credibility with investors and other stakeholders.

Appointing Action-Oriented Leaders Who Have a Disruptive Mindset. To transform a company, the CEO and senior leaders must be willing to change the business dramatically. Often, new CEOs—particularly if they come from outside the company—increase the long-term odds of a successful transformation. On average, after five years, companies that hired new CEOs externally generated total shareholder returns (TSR) 12.9% higher than they achieved before the transformation. The corresponding TSR figure for companies with new CEOs hired internally was 8.4%, according to the report. The caveat is that returns from new external CEOs show greater variability, meaning that when they fail, they fail worse than insiders do. Incumbent and insider-selected CEOs must not underestimate the disruption necessary for transformation.

Taking Rapid Action Toward Transformation Goals. Instead of trying to reinvent the company all at once, leaders should work to immediately kick off rapid moves that are easy to implement in the first 100 days and can generate results in 3 to 12 months. Rapid action and an iterative and agile approach can establish the CEO’s credibility with investors and deliver the greatest possible short-term difference in performance.

Effective transformations often require leaders to meet the following challenges successfully, according to the report:

Applying Both Directive and Inclusive Leadership. Transformation takes more than traditional, directive leadership; it also calls for inclusive leadership, such as fostering collaboration, soliciting feedback, and empowering teams. “Inclusive leadership is always important, but during these times of constant change, people are often exhausted and in need of not only clear direction but also encouragement,” said Jim Hemerling, a senior partner at BCG and coauthor of the report. The CEO, in conjunction with human resources, needs to determine how the transformation will affect people throughout the company and what new kinds of talent and leadership the company will need to sustain the change into the future.

Building a Diverse Leadership Team. Company leadership should include people from both inside and outside the organization. It’s important to strike the right balance between external hires, with new ideas and capabilities, and internal talent, with deep knowledge of the business and organization.

CEOs face other transformation-related challenges as well. For example, CEOs must continually balance short- and long-term objectives. New CEOs must quickly reset investor expectations, and must develop a clear purpose for the change effort. The report describes four transformation imperatives for new CEOs: prepare the journey, fund the journey, reinvent for the future and organize for sustained performance.

“This is evidence-based guidance for leadership teams,” said Martin Reeves, a senior partner at BCG and coauthor of the report. “Rather than going on instinct and hunches, CEOs can capitalize on this kind of statistical analysis and give themselves an edge in launching major transformation programs.”

In a related report, BCG screened the S&P Global 1200 Index for companies that had experienced a significant decline in revenue, profit margins and/or market capitalization since 2010, followed by a clear rebound. It found 11 examples of companies that successfully transformed in the face of unprecedented challenges. The share price of those 11 companies jumped by 87% between January 2013 and August 2017, compared to an increase in share price of only a 41% for the overall S&P Global 1200 Index. That report, “The Comeback Kids,” was published in November 2017.

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Marketing Tech Investment Trends For 2018

Chief Executive Magazine -

It’s that time of year again, when we reflect on our successes and failures, reset our budgets and prepare to start all over again. With it comes a continual emphasis on marketing technology (MarTech) and the potential it can bring.

The role of marketing continues to change, and our customers’ expectations are ever higher. Everyone wants and expects an Amazon or Netflix experience. With so many options, where should smart CMOs (and CEOs) spend their MarTech budgets in 2018? Below are 10 major trends for 2018 that will impact both B2B and B2C.

  1. Personalization

If your websites and marketing channels are still delivering product-centric, one-sized fits all messaging, prepared to be left in the dust. Today marketing needs to deliver personalization at scale across multiple devices and channels and this will be the rule, not the exception in 2018. Your website may feature 20-plus different home page experiences depending upon the persona and where they are in their buyer’s journey.  Emails need to be micro-focused. Advertising needs to be contextual and deliver the right message at the right time. Every touch, every message, every user experience needs to be personalized and relevant. If not, customers will turn you off and go somewhere else.

  1. Privacy

With greater power, comes greater responsibility. Uncle Ben may not be running your marketing department, but his advice should still be followed. Today the convergence of AdTech and MarTech gives marketing a lot more capability to deliver contextualized messages at scale, but this needs to be balanced with ever-growing government regulations and customer preferences. Start with your customers and what they want, then figure out how to give it to them and secure their privacy.

“Don’t be lured by every new shiny new tech tool on the market. Instead, be mindful of your business objectives and pare them with your investment decisions.”

  1. Ad Blocking

People want useful content, not ads. Between the ability to stream commercial free content and block ads on multiple devices, customers are indicating their preference for how they want to engage. Smart publishers and marketing executives will need to figure out how to deliver their messages via content and contextual conversation, or adjust their business models to offer premium content for a fair subscription price. But ad blocking will continue to rise and make it more difficult for advertisers to reach their audience without paying a premium.

  1. Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is making its way into multiple applications, as machine learning augments our ability to consume large amounts of data and determine next best actions. Many vendors have a variety of initiatives underway to add more AI capability to their platforms. One of the ways to evaluate your technology partners in 2018 is to ask them about their current and planned AI capabilities and then ask them to demonstrate multiple use cases on how it would be applied.

  1. Chatbots

With the sheer number of social channels, community sites, feedback mechanisms and more, most marketing organizations cannot manually keep up with all the customer service requests. Customers expect quick responses – often under an hour when they post a complaint or comment. Chatbots are a very scalable solution to effectively manage customer service, social monitoring and customer engagement activities.

  1. Automated Content Sourcing and Syndication

The web is already deluged with content and most marketing teams are forever behind the curve in producing meaningful content in a timely manner. Content sourcing, employee advocacy and social amplification software provides marketers with AI and business rules driven software that can scour the web for meaningful content at all stages of the buying journey. It curates, tags and sorts it in one cloud-based location and then can very easily be syndicated through your employees and through multiple marketing channels. These tools are a must-have in 2018.

  1. Conversational Web

Alexa or Google Home anyone? Voice activated search now makes up 30% of all search inquiries and will only grow exponentially as IoT allows customers to engage without a traditional user interface. In the next few years, websites, applications and channels will be conversational. Smart executives should start planning on how to integrate voice and conversation into their primary channels and applications.

  1. Mobile and Proximity Search and Marketing

The right message at the right time at the right place. Smartphones are ubiquitous.  Location and proximity marketing are not just limited to B2C. All marketers can serve up specific products, services and messages tailored to where the user is and what they are looking for. Localization will continue to play a major factor in 2018, even for traditional websites.

  1. Video Marketing

Video content and video search have outpaced traditional search and all other channels for a couple of years now. Video platforms and video marketing through multiple channels are an essential part of today’s marketing mix, as customers want more interactive and immersive experiences. Websites and marketing channels that feature more video will continue to outperform.

  1. Big Data

Data is growing at an exponential rate. Data lakes and data warehouses are obsolete.  Smart marketers are investing in customer data platforms, AI-driven business intelligence tools and visualization to match data fragments around the customer, not around the company. This will continue to be a top 3 budget item in 2018.

Keep these MarTech trends in mind as you plan for marketing spend in 2018. Don’t be lured by every new shiny new tech tool on the market. Instead, be mindful of your business objectives and pare them with your investment decisions. Too much of a good thing is not necessarily a good thing, so choose your marketing toys wisely.

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New Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Says He Will ‘Pick Up Where Whitman Left Off’

Chief Executive Magazine -

Incoming Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Antonio Neri.

Meg Whitman’s tenure as CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise may be coming to an end, but Antonio Neri’s stint as her successor will begin on February 1.

And after a tumultuous era in which Whitman oversaw a series of massive corporate restructurings and sweeping job reductions as she cut costs and split the prior Hewlett-Packard into two companies in 2015, Neri ascends from within — a long-time HPE executive and its current president who is the technologist that Whitman believes the company now needs at the top.

“The next CEO needs to be a deeper technologist,” Whitman told Fortune recently after breaking news of her departure from Hewlett-Packard leadership after six years. “That is exactly what Antonio is.”

Neri told Chief Executive that “as a 22-year veteran of HPE, I bring a deep understanding of our people, technology, strategy and customers that positions me to [take] advantage of my experience across the organization and my partnership with Meg to realize the opportunity in front of us in a seamless way that leverages the very best of HPE.”

“We are at an inflection point at which technology will enable us to unlock data in unprecedented ways, allowing us to solve business and societal challenges and find new opportunities that we can’t even conceive of today.” – Antonio Neri

Not long after a 10-year stint as CEO of eBay, and immediately after running unsuccessfully for governor of California as a Republican, Whitman came into Hewlett-Packard in 2011. She recently called it an “enormous conglomerate” at the time that confused customers because it sold too many disparate products, from printers to software to servers. It also was top-heavy with management and with hardware resources at the time that cloud computing and the pay-as-you-go model of digital access threatened to leave Hewlett-Packard a dinosaur.

Whitman made some tough calls including not only splitting the huge company but also spinning off smaller operations and executing a financial overhaul. And while she left HPE arguably a shadow of its former self, Whitman’s conviction is that her efforts created a company that retains long-term viability and, while smaller, is nimbler.

“Even as a smaller, focused company,” Neri told Chief Executive, “HPE is a global technology leader.” Now Neri with his technology credentials ascends to pick up where Whitman left off and “deliver the next generation of technology, software and services that will power the data-driven enterprise of the future. We will deliver innovations that enable organizations to seamlessly navigate and unlock data in today’s complex environment.”

He said that “we are at an inflection point at which technology will enable us to unlock data in unprecedented ways, allowing us to solve business and societal challenges and find new opportunities that we can’t even conceive of today.”

In that regard, he said, HPE’s strategy “is to make hybrid IT simple, power the intelligent edge and deliver the services to make it all happen.

“I have spent my entire career in enterprise technology, which has given me the perspective to understand what our customers need and how we need to lead the industry in meeting those needs. I’m confident we have the right strategy, people, partners and technology roadmap to deliver on that promise.”

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MonetizeMe CEO Shares A Tale Of Entrepreneurial Resilience

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It all ended and started with one meeting. I had become “redundant” in the best job I’ve ever had and my first one out of university. It was unexpected, unfamiliar and unnerving. I didn’t know at the time, but it was my innate entrepreneurial resilience that enabled me to move on 12 hours later and start my new chapter in life.

The next day I was planning my immediate departure to South America to go on a life-changing trip. Like most backpacking trips, I expected it to be inspiring and character molding but I could have never expected it to have the impact it had. Four months into the trip across South America, I found myself on the peak of Wayna Picchu, overlooking the breathtaking sight of Macchu Picchu. I reflected on my journey, how I’ve never really been in my element till these past four months and then it clicked:

I need to take my life into my own hands and enable myself to work anywhere in the world I choose.

This journey doesn’t have to conclude by going back home and getting a corporate job like everyone else. I will continue my world expedition by starting a location independent business and igniting a manifesto of true lifestyle autonomy. One year later I was able to achieve my goal. I had created a business plan to increase measurable revenues via digital means and approached my old employer. I offered a percentage of increased revenues which they couldn’t refuse because of the prospect of unlimited upside and minimal downside.

“Don’t think that company cultures only belong to large corporate companies and yoga studios.”

Fast forward 2 years into the business and I had made the same employer that laid me off additional millions. I had a great testimonial under my belt and the location and schedule freedom that I originally strived for. What else do I need? That’s when the innate entrepreneurial urge kicked in again. It wasn’t enough. Don’t stop pushing the envelope!

After a trip across Europe, I had been able to secure five new premium clients and a partnership with Google. I was sitting on the cusp of opportunity and I was the bottleneck preventing further success. It’s that ironic bypass that many entrepreneurs hit. The same person and reason for the business’ original success has become the bottleneck. It’s one of the greatest hurdles that solo entrepreneurs face and sometimes never surpass.

How do I replicate myself? Human cloning was far from available so I had to resort to hiring and training. With the nature of the location independent business, my hiring practices was not restricted to my location. However, training remotely did have its difficulties but wasn’t insurmountable. I made my first two hires in the Philippines and I was lucky enough to onboard two talented team members that didn’t have the capabilities but definitely had the propensity which we still enjoy in MonetizeMore today.

Through my trials and falters, I was able to improve my hiring and training and the new team members evolved from challenges into vehicles to further scale the business. Throughout the years we continued to hire steadily as we grew our client base and optimized our processes. The company was growing consistently, however, I knew we could never hit our potential without technology.

Automation started with the hire of our CTO in 2015. We built a talented developer team around him and have been able to scale innovative ad technology that has made the company fully scalable and has accelerated the growth as envisioned. This third step of automation definitely proved to be the most difficult but also yielded the greatest reward.

This year we hit 8-figures for the first time and experienced one of the strongest growth years ever. Looking back at the last 8 years of up and downs, the below three takeaways stick out as the most important:

  • Designate -> Eliminate -> Automate: To scale a business, you must first designate one task at a time to other team members to eliminate yourself as the business bottleneck. Once you eliminate yourself as the bottleneck, analyze the processes and eliminate the unnecessary steps. From what’s left, automate whatever you can.
  • Developers are an Asset: If you treat developers like commodities as if they are replaceable team members, you will never build something special. Invest in developers like you invest in a business. They have the potential to yield incredible return with sufficient investment.
  • Culture is Your Rock: Don’t think that company cultures only belong to large corporate companies and yoga studios. A purposeful company culture that is enforced by each team member is like the momentum of a snowball that continues to build into a snow boulder. There are few things more powerful than gaining momentum.

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Navy Federal Credit Union CEO Cutler Dawson Talks Leadership

Chief Executive Magazine -

Navy Federal Credit Union CEO & president Vice Admiral Cutler Dawson (U.S. Navy Retired).

Cutler Dawson, retired U.S. Navy Vice Admiral and CEO and president of Navy Federal Credit Union—the largest credit union in the world with more than $80 billion in assets, 15,000 employees and 7 million members—knows a thing or two about effective leadership, having served as past commander of the Navy’s 2nd Fleet.

Dawson has served as CEO of Navy Federal since 2004, leading an organization that has never undergone a round of layoffs as many financial institutions in the U.S. are shuttering their brick and mortar branches. Cutler recently spoke with Chief Executive about how his 34 years of service in the U.S. Navy influenced his role as CEO, the importance of people at Navy Federal and his ideas on leadership.

Q: Which lessons that you learned during your esteemed military career transferred over to your role as CEO? Were there any surprises for you coming into the business world from the Navy?

A: I was fortunate that I had 6 commands at sea when I was in the Navy. The first one was a small ship called an oceangoing tug that I took command of when I was 27 years old, and it’s kind of the equivalent of being a CEO—particularly when you’re out in the middle of the ocean and there’s no one to make decisions but you. I had a crew of 85, I had missions to accomplish and I had to get it done.

“It all kind of works the same, whether you’re in the Navy or in a for-profit business.” – Cutler Dawson

Before I went to that ship, a mentor of mine Pete Hedley told me the more you command a ship, the better you get at it. You learn lessons of what works, what doesn’t work, and as you get larger ships you will learn from the smaller ships you had before that. And I found that to be true as I worked my way up to a cruiser, then a carrier battle group of 12 ships and about 12,000 people, and then last as fleet commander of the 2nd Fleet, with all the ships on the eastern seaboard.

All of those were like being a CEO in some way, and when I came to Navy federal 13 years ago, I had that baseline. It’s a lot of thinking about the management of risk—risk-reward on what you want to accomplish, what it takes to get there, what the rewards are and what are the perils and dangers in getting there. It all kind of works the same, whether you’re in the Navy or in a for-profit business.

Q: How is Navy Federal approaching onboarding new members and attracting the next generation of members?

A: Navy Federal has been very fortunate for the 84 years that we’ve been in existence, we’ve always had those younger members. When new recruits come into the service, 18 to 19-year-olds are those new members. We’re fortunate today that we’re the on-base credit union at Great Lakes, where all the new Navy recruits come in, the on-base credit union at Paris Island where half of the Marine Corps comes in, and we learn from that crucible of what works for them, what they’re asking for and what they like and don’t like.

We put a lot of effort into digital and mobile, but we also put a lot of effort into branches, because we believe that people want to be face-to-face sometimes. Also, in our contact center, when I first got here 13 years ago our wait time on the telephone for people calling in was 45 minutes, at times. We said, “We’ve really got to work on this, that’s really too long. Our members really love us, but they’re not going to love us much longer.” And last year our average wait time on the phone was 47 seconds. Big difference.

Q: How has the credit union landscape evolved over the past decade?

A: There are fewer credit unions and community banks than when I started 13 years ago. Size matters, and it allows you to make offerings and investments that smaller entities can’t do, and in today’s world, particularly with digital and what people demand, they don’t want to wait for things, and you have to have it available for them and sometimes that requires economies of scale. Fortunately for Navy Federal and a number of other large credit unions, and I would say the same is true for community and regional banks, they’ve been able to keep up, as well, but I think this is going to be with us for a while.

Q: When you are adding members to your leadership team, what are some key attributes you look for?

A: I’ve found that you need to try to groom people from the inside to move up. But as we’ve grown and become more complex, we need skills from people that don’t grow up at Navy Federal, they come to us from other places. The art form is to attract the best and have them be part of the team from day one. I’ve found that the long-timers who grow up within the Navy Federal organization recognize that they need the help. They appreciate people coming in from other places with their skills and they do their best to see that they are welcomed and mentored as to our way of doing business, but at the same time they want to learn other ways of doing business, so we can improve.

It’s really worked for us, but I think it’s a tough balance for any organization: How much do you promote from the inside and how much help do you need from the outside where you have skills that are lacking. When you can get that combination right, and I think we have here at Navy Federal, it’s terrific.

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Steve Ritchie Takes Papa John’s Helm, As Founder Schnatter Gives Way To Difficulties

Chief Executive Magazine -

John Schnatter, founder of Papa John’s

When he becomes CEO of Papa John’s Pizza on January 1, Steve Ritchie will have a lot more on his plate than just delicious, steaming pies. He’s going to have to figure out how to jump-start the chain’s lagging growth, dig it out of a politico-business controversy, and succeed a legend who just happened to start the company.

Chief Operating Officer Ritchie, who began at the company in 1996 as a customer-service rep, already was tapped as Schnatter’s eventual heir apparent in 2015. Ritchie will take the reins of the Louisville-based No. 3 pizza chain after the chain abruptly announced a transition from CEO and Founder John Schnatter right before Christmas. Schnatter will remain chairman.

It isn’t clear yet whether Schnatter’s scrap with supporters of the National Football League anthem protests—in which he complained during a conference call with investors that the league’s handling of the controversy had hurt pizza sales—was the catalyst to the timing of his concession of Papa John’s top job. But Ritchie did imply to the Wall Street Journal that the publicity didn’t help matters. The company declined Chief Executive’s request to interview him.

“Clearly all of the PR things have been quite a distraction. I want to put the focus back on our people and pizza.”

“Clearly all of the PR things have been quite a distraction,” Ritchie told the publication. “I want to put the focus back on our people and pizza.”

Ritchie has good reason to make such a focus his imperative. First, he’s got to turn the business around. At a time when streaking rival Domino’s keeps posting 6- to 12-percent quarterly sales gains in same-store sales, during the third quarter, Papa John’s North American growth slowed versus a year ago, and Schnatter lowered both its full-year same-store sales-growth outlook for the region and its overall earnings guidance.

Meanwhile, Papa John’s still trails Domino’s in the race to digitize ordering and delivery. Papa John’s lately has introduced innovations such as Facebook Instant Ordering, where it was the first pizza chain to do so. But analysts say that overall, Domino’s has established a huge lead in digitization over both Papa John’s and Pizza Hut—an advantage that actually is helping Domino’s challenge Pizza Hut for the industry’s No. 1 spot these days.

And investors have soured on Papa John’s. After peaking at a price of more than $89 a share about a year ago, Papa John’s has plummeted to a price of about $56 a share. (Investors shaved about 4 percent off its value in Friday trading through mid-afternoon, the day after the transition announcement.)

Which brings us to the Schnatter element in the difficulties that face Ritchie as he ascends to the helm of the chain that has 3,400 units in North America and 1,600 overseas.

Papa John’s has been a heavy advertiser during NFL games and has employed football stars such as Peyton Manning as pitch men, with Schnatter himself often appearing in the TV ads. And Papa John’s is the official pizza sponsor of the NFL.

But in November, Schnatter publicly complained about the NFL’s handling of the national-anthem protests, which seemed to be dinging viewership and which clearly got the league, its teams, players, management and the brand’s image with fans caught up in the vortex of racial politics that developed around the issue.

“The NFL has hurt us by not resolving the current debacle to the players’ and owners’ satisfaction,” Schnatter said. His remarks immediately drew backlash on social media, where some chose to cite Papa John’s pizza quality instead for sluggish sales. Others supported Schnatter’s diagnosis of one of the league’s problems.

Ritchie likely will avoid open commentary on the anthems even as he turns a critical eye to Papa John’s NFL involvement. “The NFL has continued to experience declines in viewership,” he told the Journal. “We’re evaluating all partnerships on a day-by-day, week-by-week and month-by-month basis to make sure we’re getting the benefit.”

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