P&Q: What are your expectations for entry level MBAs? What are your most successful new hires doing to hit the ground running and quickly add value?
SI: There’s no easy answer. I think there are a multitude of behaviors and contributions that lead to that. Start with day one. Yes, you are a new hire. Yes, this is an opportunity to grow and develop. But this is also your opportunity to really make an impact on your business immediately.
How do you do that? You act as the owner of your work and your brand – and making decisions and taking actions that drive your business. We call it championing productivity: It’s how you act as the owner of your business. There is also the leadership component, leading with courage, visionary leadership, strategic thinking and decision-making and making critical recommendations to your management. It’s innovating. We bring the outside in at various levels of the organization. With new hires, you bring diverse experiences and different viewpoints to help drive and grow our business and innovate.
Ultimately, we use this model called PIE, which stands for Performance Image Exposure. A lot of what I just mentioned, of course, gets at the performance: What are your skills and how do they translate into contributions that grow our business? Equally important is your image and your exposure. Being new to the company, how do you make sure that you’re building that sponsorship and rapport, creating the ‘brand of you’ within the company? You can’t spend so much time focusing on marketing yourself, obviously. At the end of the day, the meat is your contribution and your skills. Sometimes, people who have all the skills and make big contributions aren’t always creating the image and developing exposure for themselves, so they don’t always progress as quickly as others. That’s why image and exposure are important to us.
P&Q: Give me an example of a student who really impressed you in the process.
SI: One example that quickly came to mind was a female undergrad chemical engineering major whom I interviewed almost 20 years ago. I was so impressed with her intelligence and character, but most of all her visionary leadership and entrepreneurial leadership. On her own, Sshe had recognized an opportunity for non-toxic crayons leveraging soy beans versus traditional petroleum based formulation. She researched, secured patents, and the rest. This resulted in in selling the rights to a small startup crayons company. WOW! This individual went on to be highly successful P&G engineer in R&D and Product Supply, and then highly successful switch into P&G Marketing and Brand Management. She is now the CMO at Fortune 100 company.
P&Q: What excites you personally about working for P&G?
SI: I have two responses. One is the people and that gets back to the purpose, values and principles – the high caliber and very talented group around you. The gentleman from P&G who picked me up at the airport in 1989 ended up becoming my best friend. Eventually, I married to a P&Ger. There is a common bond back to our purpose, values, and principles. You can enjoy a job, but if you don’t like the people you work with, you’re not going to last very long. The people that I’ve worked with have kept me here.
Secondly, looking at the career that I’ve had, I don’t know what other company would’ve allowed me as a mechanical engineer to come in and have that responsibility from day. As part of that, I took a broadening assignment and was a recruiter who hired engineers on our technical side. Then I went back to being a leader within our engineering organization. At a certain point, I said I’d had enough on the technical side and wanted to get more immersed in our business. Even though I didn’t have an MBA, the company said, ‘You got the visionary leadership and strategic thinking. Sure, you don’t have an understanding of marketing and brand building, but you have the core skills we want. We’ll bring you over and teach you that.’
By allowing me to switch into marketing, P&G gave me a huge opportunity to grow my skill sets in a very different direction. It was very scary. I was an expert where I was and this was a huge, huge step backwards to start over as an assistant brand manager. It was very humbling, but I loved that. Ultimately, I took a different fork in the road later in my career. I liked marketing and loved running the business aspects of it, but an opportunity came up to lead our employment branding It would be marketing the company to external talent versus marketing a product brand. It was a huge new opportunity and that’s what drew me back into the recruiting world. Since then, my role has evolved to leading our North American talent supply group. What company would’ve allowed me to take such a diverse career track of being an engineer, a recruiter, and a marketer? So when I look at that very customizable career, I love how P&G was able to balance what was in the company’s interest and what was in my interest. For that, I am who I am today.
Going into the marketing organization, I feel like I got my MBA being on the job, but it’s much easier to come into P&G with an MBA. Our current CEO and Chairman of the Board was an engineer who rose to being the plant manager at one of our largest plants before he chose to do a broadening. He switched over to marketing as an assistant brand manager and has since worked his way back up to be our CEO. This goes back to our develop-from-within philosophy in placing such huge emphasis on building people’s skills. I don’t know what other company you can say that for. I saw how it all fits together and had the company not allowed me to take these different forks in the road, I may have left. I didn’t have to. For lack of a better term, I probably had 6-7 different careers – they just all happened to be with the same company in very different areas.
P&Q: Anything you’d like to add for our readers?
SI: Two things I would stress. First, P&G places a very heavy emphasis on corporate citizenship. In corporate America, MBAs are learning more-and-more how do you do good by society while at the same time doing good by shareholders. We value diversity and we’re highly inclusive culture. It’s a business strategy and it’s our way to win. When you think about environmental sustainability and the areas of climate, water, and waste. There’s gender equality, an area that’s become more pronounced in helping the world rid gender bias. The Always campaign that launched here recently has done a tremendous job to try to open people’s eyes and at the same time grow a brand and helping with gender equality. Those areas for citizenship are vastly important.
I want to talk a little more about diversity and inclusion. It is a commitment and a bias towards action that is undeniably our way to win. We believe it is essential. While we talk about diversity being getting the right mix of talent, inclusion is using that diversity to make us stronger. Many times, companies talk about one or the other. We connect both. We care very deeply about the impact that diversity and inclusion have on people’s lives both inside and outside of P&G. Sheryl Sandberg was just here recently and was talking about Lean In circles. P&G has the largest number of Lean In circles versus any other company. With P&G’s “Do Things Like a Girl,” she even commented that this campaign been seen by over 600 million people and that has done way more to help us with sexism than her book has done.
When you come to work for P&G, wherever you work in the company, your work plan is going to focus on areas like sustainability as well as growing our shareholder and market share. It’s really about doing both.
DON’T MISS: WHAT MCKINSEY SEEKS IN MBA HIRES