Wednesday, April 16th 2014

Video: People Management Lacking in Top Leaders

October 31st, 2013 in Business by

Welcome to my video blog on business, leadership and diversity.

To check it out, click the video below.

To read the transcript, click here. (more…)


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Leadership: Unilever’s Chairman Explains Boardroom Strategy

October 31st, 2013 in Leadership by

Leadership in the Field: Interviews with Global Leaders

By Russell Reynolds Associates with Roger O. Crockett

Michael Treschow, Chairman of Unilever, discusses the board’s relationship with the C-suite, including CEO support, succession, diversity and driving a winning strategy.

For a glimpse of Treschow’s views on leadership, watch the video below.



Michael Treschow is Chairman of Unilever N.V. and PLC, a global powerhouse in consumer packaged goods. He was appointed Chairman in May 2007. He is a member of Unilever’s Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee and the Compensation and Management Resources Committee. Prior to joining the Unilever board, Treschow was Chairman of telecom networking equipment maker Telefonaktiebolaget L M Ericsson, from 2002 to 2011. He was also chairman of the board of AB Electrolux from 2004 to 2007. Treschow became CEO of Electrolux in 1997, and before that he was president and CEO of Atlas Copco AB. A native of Sweden, Treschow was chairman of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise until joining Unilever.

CHAPTER 1: Supporting a new CEO through succession and transition

Roger Crockett:       As Chairman of Ericsson previously and now with Unilever, you’ve overseen several CEO successions.  So what is the role of the Chairman in that succession planning process?

Michael Treschow: I think the Chairman has to be the most active in it, but particularly if you look at the situation in the Anglo Saxon companies, like Unilever, the Nomination Committee, which is a committee of the board, has a key role to make sure that you specify the job and run the process.

If we take the example of Unilever, our Nomination Committee meets every time we have a board meeting, roughly five or six times a year.  Among its key duties is surely to make sure we are on top of the succession planning.  But also the full board is interested. So at least once a year we have a full session with the board on succession planning and talent management. (more…)


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Business: Obamacare’s Glitches Will Soon Fade

October 30th, 2013 in Business by


A wise business associate once reminded me, while I was wrestling with a rather large and onerous work-related issue of my own, that nothing truly worth doing comes easily. And so it is with healthcare reform. As President Obama wrestles with the bungled launch of, the web-based exchange for the Affordable Care Act, we should remind ourselves that it was bound to come with difficulty. For it is something truly worth doing.

Of course, the President should be embarrassed over the sloppy rollout. In fact, he should be furious. And insiders confirm that, in private, he is absolutely fuming. The dysfunctional website serves as a gateway to the new Obamacare insurance marketplace for consumers in 36 states. Health policy experts say that if the website isn’t fixed by mid-November, it could mean relatively few people will enroll, leaving the new private insurance marketplace with pronounced limp.

So, with his plan on the line, the President gave a strident defense of his signature health care law Wednesday, October 30, in Boston, returning to the intellectual birthplace of the legislation. “Yes, this is hard,” he explained. “The health care system’s a big system, and it’s complicated,” Obama said at Faneuil Hall. “If it was hard doing it just in one state (Massachusetts, where Mitt Romney instituted a similar law), it’s hard doing it in 50 states—especially when the governors of a bunch of states, and half of Congress, don’t want to help.”

Then came this simple but inalienable truth: “But it’s important!” the President added, as he pounded on the podium. (more…)


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Video: A Conversation With NFL Players Executive Director

October 30th, 2013 in Video by

On Wednesday, October 2, 2013, DeMaurice (“De”) Smith, Executive Director of the NFL Players Association made time for a special visit to the Metropolitan Club of Chicago to join me for an early morning fireside chat in the Club’s Oak Room on the 66th floor of the Willis Tower. The conversation was the latest in the Met Club’s “Executive Speaker Series” sponsored by Heidrick & Struggles. The Series features discussions with prominent executives to give attendees an insider’s look at a particular business. After a breakfast of bacon and eggs, fresh fruit, and hot coffee, an estimated 75 executive guests enjoyed the discussion–sometimes light and humorous and sometimes brutally serious–about protecting players over the long-term and the business representing pro football players. To catch a glimpse of the conversation click the video below.


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Business: NFL Players Chief Shares Realities of Pro Football

October 22nd, 2013 in Business by

demaurice-smith-high5 (1)

Reported and transcribed by Sherry Clayton

DeMaurice (“De”) Smith is the Executive Director of the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA), the union for professional players in the National Football League (NFL). Under Smith’s leadership, the NFL players negotiated a historic 10-year collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with NFL owners in August 2011. The new CBA achieves unprecedented benefits for players, including new health and safety protocols in effect throughout the season and into retirement, the first compliance and accountability structure for NFL medical personnel, and the players’ highest share of TV contract revenues in history. Prior to his work with the NFLPA, Smith was a trial lawyer and litigation partner in the Washington, D.C. offices of influential law firms Latham & Watkins and Patton Boggs. In the courtroom, he prosecuted scores of cases for several Fortune 500 companies. Before his tenure in the private sector, Smith served as Counsel to then-Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder (now United States Attorney General) in the U.S. Department of Justice.

On Wednesday, October 2, 2013, Smith made time for a special visit to the Metropolitan Club of Chicago to join Roger Crockett for an early morning fireside chat in the Club’s Oak Room on the 66th floor of the Willis Tower. The conversation was the latest in the Met Club’s “Executive Speaker Series” sponsored by Heidrick & Struggles. The Series features discussions with prominent executives to give attendees an insider’s look at a particular business. After a breakfast of bacon and eggs, fresh fruit, and hot coffee, an estimated 75 executive guests enjoyed the discussion about doing business with the world’s richest sports league, issues of player health and safety, and stereotypes of the modern NFL player. Here is an edited transcript of Smith’s responses to five major topics of inquiry:

1.) Crockett: Why do you spend so much time traversing the country to visit teams and meet with players?

Smith: I really believe that we at the NFLPA are simply an extension of the organized labor movement, the civil rights movement and the battle for human rights. We find ourselves in that never-ending line of organizations of people who get together, bind together and support each other to further and protect themselves. I love every minute of the NFL experience, but the fact is that only 2,000 people are lucky enough to play this game every year, and the injury rate is 100%. Last year, we had 4,500 injuries. This year also marks the shortest average career length in NFL history at 3.1 years. So, we fight tooth and nail over the benefits that players will need after their football career is over. That’s why our union exists, and that’s why we make the stands that we make.

Sometimes our actions are unpopular. For instance, every coach resents that we took away the two-a-days (two padded practices in a single day). For those of us who played football in high school or college, when we hear “two-a-day” it sends that shiver up our spine and we would rather crush up glass and swallow it than go through two-a-days. But two-a-days no longer exist in the National Football League because it is unnecessary, and statistically it exposed our players to an increased risk of injury. So, when we can figure out ways for our players to work smarter, suffer fewer injuries, enjoy a longer career and require less joint replacements, that’s being smart about the workplace of football. (more…)


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Diversity: Top Latino CEOs You Should Know

September 27th, 2013 in Diversity by


Latinos account for 16.7% of the U.S. population, and by all accounts, they are a growing and influential group. Even so, Latino executives make up just 1% of CEOs leading Fortune 500 companies. And worse, not one of these corporate leaders is a Latina. This doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of talented and qualified Latino leaders in corporate America. In recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month, which started September 15th, we highlight five Latinos already in the CEO’s seat, and two Latinas who could step up to take over as a Fortune 500 chief.

george_paz1. George Paz, CEO, Express Scripts: In 1998, Paz joined Express Scripts, now the largest pharmacy benefit management organization in the United States, as senior vice president and CFO. He became president in 2003, was named CEO in 2005, and was elected chairman of the board the following year. Paz has led the company through three major mergers and has achieved earnings growth of 30% a year. Formerly, he was a partner of Coopers and Lybrand, LLP (now Price waterhouse Coopers) from December 1995 to December 1997. Paz was born in the United States. His grandfather came from Mexico and settled with his family in Collinsville, MO.

ralph-de-la-vega2. Ralph de la Vega, CEO, AT&T Mobility: de la Vega assumed the CEO role for AT&T’s largest growth engine in 2007. The company is now the nation’s second largest wireless carrier. From October 2008 to January 2012, de la Vega also served as President and CEO for AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets. In addition to the company’s wireless business, he led the company’s local consumer wireline operations. From 2004 to 2006, he served as COO of Cingular Wireless, a joint venture of SBC and BellSouth telecom companies. Before joining Cingular de la Vega served as president of BellSouth Latin America. De la Vega was born in Cuba before immigrating to Miami as a young boy. (more…)


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Video: Driving Business Results Means Applying Diversity

September 26th, 2013 in Business by

Welcome to my video blog on business, leadership and diversity

To check it out, click the video below

To read the transcript, click here (more…)


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Corner Office: Diversity Means Bringing ‘Whole Self’ To Work

September 26th, 2013 in Diversity by

Brooks_Carolynn_OfficeMax-sCarolynn Brooks is Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer for OfficeMax, the $7 billion office supply company expected to close a merger with rival Office Depot by year’s end. Brooks joined OfficeMax in 2001 as Vice President of Human Resources, Staffing & Diversity. Before arriving at OfficeMax, she worked in sales and sales development at AT&T and MCI. At OfficeMax, Brooks has substantively grown the diversity initiative, including the creation and 2008 launch of the company’s Associate Resource Groups, which were developed to help promote broader understanding and appreciation of diverse experiences and perspectives among OfficeMax employees–from Latinos to those with disabilities. OfficeMax now has 10 such groups. Brooks originally wrote the article below for all of OfficeMax’s 22,000 associates (37% of which are minorities). Here is an edited version of her thoughts, from “the corner office,” on the importance of diversity. 

By Carolynn Brooks

OfficeMax aspires to create a workplace and culture where everyone feels they can “bring their whole self to work” every day. By creating an environment where everyone is treated with dignity and respect, and where your talents and skills are valued, you can feel as engaged and productive as possible. Who you are matters!

In my role as Chief Diversity Officer, I’ve had the opportunity to talk with associates who are concealing portions of their identity fearing they may be misunderstood, or choosing to downplay talents because they feel it may not be appreciated. Each of the associates I have coached to “be yourself,” have eventually flourished. They feel more engaged in the business and they’ve become an integral part of their team.

Your work is a culmination of your history and who you are. Your past work experiences, personal experiences, education, culture and other dimensions of diversity allow you to do your best work. Businesses are stronger when we leverage the incredible passion and creativity of our diverse workforces. If you feel you have to leave some part of your professional or personal self at the door to survive (and thrive) in your work, you feel less confident in who you are and what you do. When that happens, it can be a source of frustration and job dissatisfaction.

The theme “Bring Your Whole Self to Work” is an opportunity for our managers to think about how they can engage and leverage the skills and talents of individual team members. Understanding and acknowledging what each associate brings to the table will make them feel appreciated, supported and motivated to excel. Things like learning disabilities, gender identity, sexual orientation, religious beliefs or cultural backgrounds enhance our culture, and make us who we are.

To avoid disengagement, I encourage all business professionals to take a minute to think about the attributes they leave at home, and let’s bring all those attributes to work–every day.


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The March on Washington Highlights Gap in Unemployment

August 28th, 2013 in Diversity by

The “Dream” has been what has lasted. King’s dream–so eloquently and powerfully uttered 50 years ago, that black kids and white kids would one day join hands as sisters and brothers–that vision is what has lasted. And thankfully, happily, his dream of an integrated American society has indeed come true.

But during this celebrated anniversary of King’s speech, let’s not forget that he and his colleagues in the fight for Civil Rights marched for more than a social dream. Yes, the Movement’s marchers sought social equality and the same human freedoms for all Americans. But in addition, they sought economic advancement, and in particular, greater employment opportunities. In 1963, the unemployment rate was 5% for whites and 10.9% for blacks. Thus, the official name of the march was “The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.” (Images from 1963 and 2013 are below.)

Yet, here’s the tragedy: Today, a cavernous gap still exists between the unemployment rate for whites and the rate for blacks. Currently, unemployment is 6.6% for whites and 12.6% for blacks. In other words, the offspring of yesteryear’s marchers–for whom the original March was designed to create opportunities for–remain disproportionately on the periphery of the American workforce.

I’m so pleased our President addressed the nation on the anniversary of King’s “Dream” speech. But while President Obama spoke to America’s young and old, its black, its white, its people of every race, gender and creed, I hope that it’s our business leaders who are listening most attentively. It’s the chief executives and chairmen of America’s major corporations, the partners and managing directors of its big banks and law firms, the titans of industry and entrepreneurship who ought to take seriously the President’s message that much work is left to be done. These executive leaders should carefully heed King’s words from 50 years ago:

“This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy … it would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment.”

Wouldn’t it be productive, if CEOs were to ask, What can I do? What can my company do to provide more jobs to people of color? Now, I do realize that businesses face their own obstacles to expanding employment. Our education system lags others in the world, our access to broadband isn’t what it should be. Our government tax code stings. Still, with the billions that many corporations make, the question remains: What can they do?

As happy as I was to see the turnout to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The March on Washington, I wish the front lines of this new-age march were led by CEOs–the chiefs of America’s biggest companies, such as Wal-Mart and Exxon and Google. I know, that’s not realistic. (Remember, I’m dreaming.) But that would be progress. And I bet, actually, that would have made Dr. King smile.


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Video: Savvy Leaders Embrace Social Media

August 1st, 2013 in Video by

Welcome to my new video blog on business, leadership and diversity.

To check it out, click the video below.

To read the transcript, click here (more…)


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