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What the future holds: CEOs share their secrets, and speculations, on managing for the 25 years to come. (Chief Forecasters).

When CEOs reflect on the experiences of their predecessors 25 years ago, the job seems simpler, to say the least. Sure, corporate chiefs faced challenges in 1977, when Chief Executive launched its inaugural issue; their problems included an energy crisis and severe inflation. But many issues that now weigh so heavily on CEOs' minds barely existed back then. Diversity merely meant taking into account the needs of growing numbers of women and members of traditional minority groups beginning to move into management. Canada was considered a foreign market. Telex machines were cutting-edge means of communication.

Fast-forward to 25 years from now: Given such forces as sweeping demographic change, technology and globalization, the CEOs of tomorrow are likely to have the same idealized impression of their forerunners. "I think they're going to look back and say we had it easy," posits Christine Jacobs, CEO of Theragenics, a cancer-treatment manufacturer.

That was the consensus of two dozen CEOs who recently shared with Chief Executive their predictions on the role of the CEO, their respective industries and the economy as whole in the years to come. With some exceptions, they could hardly be described as futurists; science-fiction mavens would find little fodder in their visions. When asked to look 25 years ahead, on the whole they cast their sights on a shorter term of, say, five to 10 years. Still, they sketched the outline of a corporate landscape far more complex than anything seen today.

In terms of demographics, the prognosticators point out, aging work forces across the developed world will create an enormous burden for CEOs in paying retiree benefits. At the same time, the percentage of women in the labor force will continue to rise, demanding lasting, equitable solutions for balancing family and career.

The march of technology poses further challenges. To fully capitalize on breakthroughs, these CEOs suggest, their counterparts of the future must use such advances not only to boost efficiency and develop products, but also to market new systems of knowledge, whether it's in postage, food testing or educational publishing.

Then there's globalization. To gain strongholds in coveted new markets overseas, CEOs will have to travel extensively, form partnerships with government and business leaders abroad--some with values distinctly different from their own -- and reconcile disparate cultures as they expand their work forces.

Add to that the challenges of consolidation. With major retailers growing at a stunning rate, manufacturers such as Unilever and Procter & Gamble not only will have to compete with each other; they'll need to leverage their brands against the Wal-Marts of the world, which use their clout to demand lower wholesale prices and longer time periods in which to pay their invoices.

But perhaps the biggest challenge, at least in the next few years, predict several CEOs, will be restoring faith in American business. The stunning succession of corporate scandals has placed chief executives under unprecedented scrutiny. "We are all on trial," says Willie Davis, the Hall of Fame Green Bay Packer who heads All Pro Broadcasting.

With chief executives juggling so many challenges, they say, the role of CEO will evolve. Increasingly, CEOs will have to teach and rely on others in their organizations as well as continually educate themselves. In turn, the common thinking goes, companies of the future will create leadership teams rather than cling to the notion of a single, brilliant decision-maker as CEO.

"If you're depending on one person to make the decisions," says Chad Holliday, the CEO of DuPont, "you just won't be fast enough to compete."

Other chief executives offer similarly provocative forecasts. Highlights of our interviews follow.

corporate scandals

Investors Flock to Private Affairs


Beyond the more immediate fallout from the recent corporate scandals -- criminal action against dishonest executives and increased government oversight of business--Christine Jacobs predicts another outcome: a movement toward private companies.

CEO of Theragenics

Their confidence in the stock market shaken, investors will pull out of public companies and pour their money into private ones, believes Jacobs, CEO of Theragenics, a $50 million public company based near Atlanta that produces cancer treatments. She foresees a similar exodus among innovators and CEOs. "People who adore building companies will not put up with the restraints and some of the nonsense that comes with being public," asserts Jacobs, 52.

By "nonsense," she means the pressure so many public companies face to show impressive short-term results. Jacobs says that she, along with her board and management team, has considered taking Theragenics private again. But given the company's ambitious plans, she wants to maintain its access to capital in the public markets.

While announcing Theragenics' first-quarter results in April, she told investors the company's goal was not only to boost revenues, which were down from a year ago, but also to diversify into new forms of cancer treatment. Best known for producing radioactive seeds to treat prostate cancer, the company is developing new products for vascular disease, breast cancer and macular degeneration, a disease that can cause vision loss. But while Jacobs' announcement drew applause, uncertain investors didn't stick around. In mid-July, Theragenics' stock price hit a 52-week low, falling to $6.56 a share.

Eventually, Jacobs argues, the nonsense will stop. There is going to be a return to the long term," she predicts, "because I do not believe the short-term focus will give CEOs enough time to build their companies."

corporate scandals

Fraud Will Chasten Future CEOs


CEO of All Pro Broadcasting

As corporate scandals continue to unfold, Willie Davis believes certain basic values have changed. Davis, 68, a former Green Bay Packer and member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, heads Los Angeles-based All Pro Broadcasting, which has 115 employees and owns and operates five radio stations, including WLUM-FM in Milwaukee and KCXX-FM in San Bernardino, Calif. He sees parallel attitude changes in pro football and big business.

"There's no question in my mind that where we played for the love of the game and in many ways felt very privileged and lucky to do it, the guys today play for the money," asserts the former defensive end who led his teams to five NFL titles in the 1960s. Davis adds: "I get the sense the same thing happened in business: 'Give me the money and I will make whatever adjustments I'm forced to.' I'm not sure the mission, the vision is as strong and has the kind of honesty and integrity" that it once had.

Davis, who retired from professional football after the 1969 season, offers an experience of his own that he believes illustrates this shift. When he called in a promotions person at All Pro to tell him about a complaint from a client, the employee said, "Pay me more and I'll do a better job." Davis' response: "Improve your performance. Then we'll talk about pay."

Such selfishness and greed, he cautions, come at great cost. "I think, in a sense, we are all on trial--CEOs and top-level management in every American company right now," argues Davis, who sits on 10 corporate boards, including those of Kmart and Dow Chemical, prompting critics to say he's spread himself too thin.

Regaining the public trust will take time, Davis predicts, and will put a greater emphasis on integrity well into the next generation of CEOs. If there's a bright side to the scandals at such companies as Enron and World-Com, he says, it's that CEOs will truly learn the importance of maintaining sound values. He also predicts CEO compensation will become more closely tied not only to stock price and business results but also to moral leadership and the ability to promote diversity.


The Masses Get Richer


CEO of Gucci Group

Domenico De Sole, CEO of the Gucci Group, suggests there will always be women willing to spend $1,000 on a handbag. In fact, he believes that 25 years from now there will be even more people who can afford to splurge on such luxury items. (The price will be hefty: Accounting for 3 percent annual inflation, a handbag that costs $1,000 today would sell for $2,094 in 2027.)

Based on economic forecasts and the success of new Gucci stores in Russia and East Asia, De Sole predicts personal wealth will rise substantially in certain nations where historically it has been extremely low. "Wealth has increased dramatically on a worldwide basis," asserts De Sole, 58, "and so has the strength of the industry." Despite stumbling along with other luxury-goods makers after September 11, Gucci, based in Amsterdam, has seen its sales soar in recent years, from $200 million in 1993 to $2.3 billion in 2001.

De Sole foresees the largest growth in prosperity in such nations as China, the Philippines and Russia, as innovation and economic reform take hold. He notes that in Moscow, for example, where Gucci opened its second store last fall, there's a palpable sense of emerging prosperity. "You can really see that economic life is improving," he points out, citing the number of new restaurants opening and the more stylish way people dress.

As more people are able to afford Gucci products, from a sapphire crystal timepiece to a cappuccino snakeskin purse, will the brand lose some of its cachet? De Sole insists not. Gucci, he assures, will always stand for high fashion and superior quality, no matter how popular it becomes. "The increased wealth brings the people up to it," he explains. "You don't take the brand down."


English Will Be the Language of Global Business


CEO of Sealed Air

Bill Hickey was sitting in a restaurant in Beijing not too long ago when he overheard a conversation between two executives, one French, the other Chinese. He insists he wasn't eavesdropping on any company secrets. He simply took note of the language they were speaking (with varying degrees of success): English.

To Hickey, CEO of Sealed Air, the $3 billion, Saddle Brook, N.J.-based manufacturer of Bubble Wrap and other packaging products, it was yet another indication that English will be the dominant language of international business in the generation ahead--even, he argues, as the United States becomes heavily Hispanicized and as China, with its huge population, makes its mark on the global economy.

"I see it becoming kind of the second language of a large portion of the business population," predicts the 58-yea-rold CEO. "Obviously, they'll keep their primary cultural language and their national language, which will be much more important on a social basis. But as far as communicating with people from other parts of the world--other cultures, other societies -- English is rising to the occasion."

Hickey attributes this not only to America's leading role on the world economic stage, but also to an openness to change among stewards of the English language. "We're not uncomfortable adding words as we invent things," he points out, ticking off words like computer, microchip and PDA. "We don't try to describe new technologies in old terms," adds Hickey, as the French do, for example, in their term for train, chemin de fer, which literally means iron horse.

Does all this mean that 25 years from now American CEOs will not have to be multilingual, as some have predicted? Exactly, says Hickey, although corporate chiefs still should try to learn other languages. Hickey himself is not fluent in any foreign tongue, but he speaks passable French, Italian and Spanish and is working on his 30th phrase in Chinese. "I know enough to do kind of the social graces, especially when I meet people's families," he explains. "That's always helpful."


Think Inside the Box

A.G. Lafley

CEO of Procter & Gamble

Forget about running to the local momand-pop store for a bag of tortilla chips or a bottle of shampoo. Twenty-five years from now, big-box retailers will dominate the landscape here and abroad even more than they already do, predicts A.G. Lafley, CEO of Procter & Gamble.

For manufacturers like Cincinnati-based P&G, the leading household-products maker in the United States with such brands as Tide, Pampers and Bounty, the Wal-Martization of the world creates a tall order. Negotiating prices and store display space for their products means dealing with, in Wal-Mart's case, the mightiest company in America. Founded in Rogers, Ark., in 1962 as a peddler of tennis shoes and fishing rods, by 1977 Wal-Mart operated 195 stores and produced annual sales of $678 million. Today, the company, with more than 4,300 stores, can do almost double that much business in a single day.

The nation's top 10 retailers accounted for about 20 percent of Procter & Gamble's business a decade ago, explains Lafley. Since then, the percentage has nearly doubled, giving big retailers much more clout at the bargaining table.

Lafley, 55, believes the key for manufacturers is to form strategic partnerships with big retailers, which also include Target and The Home Depot. That way, producers can try to preempt bullying tactics by retailers, such as demanding discounted prices on consumer goods so they can sell them cheaply and insisting on taking more time to pay invoices.

"On the offensive side, we want to build our businesses together with them," says Lafley, who became CEO in June 2000. "So we want to innovate together. We want to improve the supply chain together. We want to provide service to their shoppers--our consumers--together." And on the defensive side? "Because there's no doubt their buying power has increased," he reasons, "the best defense is to have the leading brand."


To Stay Viable, Expand Your Scope


"What business am I in?" That is the single most important question CEOs must ask themselves--and answer--over the next 25 years if they expect to remain viable, asserts Wells Fargo CEO Dick Kovacevich.

CEO of Wells Fargo

"Railroad companies used to think they were in the railroad business," he says, citing one of many historical examples.

"They dominated the hauling of goods and passengers. Had they said they were in the transportation business, they wouldn't have missed the opportunity to adopt new technology."

Kovacevich should know. As head of a San Francisco-based financial services empire that claims more than $300 billion in assets, he has witnessed what he refers to as not just dramatic, but traumatic change in his industry. "Twenty-five years ago we were in the banking business and today we are in the financial services business," explains Kovacevich, 58. A variety of regulatory changes over the years have made that happen. The result is clear: a new breed of far-ranging financial services providers such as Well Fargo--others include Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase--that serve their customers through numerous channels.

Moving forward, CEOs will have to realize that "the only thing that is going to be constant is change," says Kovacevich. More than ever, he cautions, companies must be customer-focused and move quickly when opportunities arise.


Good-bye, Luddites? Ven Trash Goes High Tech


CEO of Waste Management

Think the garbage business is low-tech? Maury Myers doesn't. As a boy, he used to watch garbage men go through their paces, jumping off a truck, picking up bags of trash at the curb and tossing them into the masher. "Now, you've got automated arms that pick up the trash bin and throw it in," expounds the CEO of Waste Management, the $11 billion, Houston-based conglomerate that handles 40 percent of the nation's garbage. And even that innovation, notes the 62-year-old Myers, is now considered "pretty simple stuff."

"We're actually in the process of being able to power our trucks using the gas that comes out of our landfills," he says.

Myers, who began his career in the financial training program at Ford and later spent years as an airline-industry executive, including as chief operating officer of America West, believes staying on top of technology is one of a CEO's most crucial roles. "CEOs need to be willing to embrace change, realize that change is inevitable and that the real leaders who will succeed are people who envision the changes that will occur," he asserts. Those who fail to do so will "spend their careers back on their heels, being reactive," says Myers, who, by paying down debt and focusing on core businesses, is widely credited with returning Waste Management to profitability after an accounting scandal and a $250 million earnings shortfall in 1999.

As part of the company's commitment to progress, Myers explains, Waste Management scientists have teamed with the Environmental Protection Agency to conduct experiments on bioreactors, liquid chemicals that speed the rate at which trash degrades in landfills. The faster trash degrades, the less space it takes up and the more usable methane gas it emits. Myers says Waste Management is also seeking breakthroughs in recycling, with the goal of making all forms of industrial by-products reusable in some fashion. While aiming for zero waste may be an ambitious goal, he acknowledges, "it's certainly the way to get things done."

As for household trash, Myers foresees more change to come. Within 25 years, he predicts, homeowners, as well as businesses, will no longer have to separate recyclables from their garbage. "Eventually technology will do that work for us," he says, adding that as part of "single-source collection," specially designed machines will tear open the bags and sort the trash.


Customers Define the Market

Philip Satre

CEO of Harrah's

When Philip Satre, the CEO of Harrah's since 1984, considers the gaming industry's future, he remembers the changes that swept through the business a decade or so ago. New, more permissive laws on gambling gave rise to casinos on riverboats and Indian reservations.

Some of Harrah's competitors considered these smaller casinos little threat to the grand palaces of Las Vegas, Reno and Atlantic City, recalls Satre, 53. But Harrah's executives, he notes, paid close attention. They saw how successful the new casinos were and, through research, discovered much overlap among visitors to these sites and the traditional casinos, he relates. Seizing the opportunity, Harrah's jumped into the new market, and today 17 of the company's 25 casinos in the United States are located on riverboats or Indian lands.

"We tried to look at it as an industry defined by the customer rather than the product," explains Satre, whose 65-year-old Las Vegas-based company reported $3.7 billion in sales last year. "The customer was saying, 'I enjoy playing slot machines, I enjoy playing blackjack or craps or whatever it is and going out to restaurants. It doesn't matter if it's on a floating casino on a river in the middle of the country. It doesn't matter if it's an Indian casino in Arizona or Minnesota or Connecticut."

With that lesson in mind, Harrah's is now trying to position itself for Internet gambling, should Congress ever reverse its course of trying to stop online betting and decide to legalize it. Given the anonymity of it, no one seems able to determine how much illegal gambling already takes place over the Internet, or who is doing it. In place of such data, Satre says, Harrah's has invested in its Web site, making it as interactive as possible in the event that it may one day offer electronic versions of slot machines, blackjack or craps.


Seeing Health Care as Investment


CEO of Eli Lilly & Co.

Buy into a mutual fund or purchase a year's supply of a cholesterol-lowering drug? That may not be far from the truth if Sidney Taurel's vision of the world comes to fruition. For the economy -- not to mention Taurel's industry -- to thrive over the next generation, Americans must view health care as an investment, not a cost, asserts the CEO of Eli Lilly & Co., the $11.5 billion Indianapolis-based pharmaceutical giant.

As a recent historical example, he points out that 10 to 15 years ago many companies considered information technology a burdensome expense. But those investments paid dividends in productivity and today, he argues, IT is seen as an essential part of almost any budget. No one could argue that health care, like IT, isn't expensive. But it, too, improves productivity, because the healthier workers are the more efficient they are, says Taurel, 53.

So the argument that it's bad to spend a high percentage of the GDP on health costs is shortsighted, Taurel says. People should look instead at what happens to the GDP when a nation significantly invests in its health.

With the ongoing advances in genetic research, and the prospect of tailoring drugs to specific genes, this is a watershed period in pharmaceuticals, asserts Taurel. Given this "revolution in life-sciences technology," he says, the benefits of increased health-care investment could be historic. He believes the combination of new diagnostic tools and gene-based drugs will produce solutions to currently uncurable diseases, as well as predict and prevent new ones -- all of which adds up to a healthier work force, and world.


Revolutionizing Office Space


CEO of Herman Miller

Buttoned-down executives sitting on old leather car seats. Conference tables fashioned out of salvaged wooden fishing boats. Plastic desks and trash cans made from recycled soda bottles.

Could this be the corporate suite of the future? Quite possibly, if Michael Volkema's predictions play out. Volkema, CEO of Herman Miller, the Zeeland, Mich.-based No. 2 office-furniture maker in the United States (behind Steelcase), foresees a rising environmental ethic among companies as they realize just how often they need to redesign their offices. Fifteen years ago, he explains, 40 percent of workstations had to be reconfigured within a given year because the nature of the work had changed. Today, he adds, every workstation gets modified an average of once a year.

As a result, "people are going to be much more concerned about not puffing materials in place that create a lot of waste when you deconstruct them," posits Volkema, 46, whose company, inventor of the Aeron chair, reported $2.2 billion in sales last year. "And when you do deconstruct them, how do you make your ending product the beginning product for some other lifecycle of another product?"

As Herman Miller develops products for the future, it keeps both the environment and the changing nature of work in mind. For example, the company is prototyping a sound-proofing curtain imbedded with a microchip that picks up the sound of voices and creates a melody response that perfectly matches them in tone, a kind of smart white noise. The curtain can be pulled across an open work space to create privacy. And it will be made of natural material (the kind of fabric has yet to be chosen) so that once it inevitably becomes obsolete and dumped in a landfill, it will quickly decompose.


Changing Workforce


CEO of Pitney Bowes

More than any other issue, profound demographic shifts in the work force could pose the stiffest challenge for tomorrow's CEOs, predicts Michael Critelli of Pitney Bowes.

As the labor pool grows ever more diverse, questions of fairness become increasingly complex. "My predecessor's idea of diversity was women and minorities -- African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians -- the EEOC categories," Critelli points out. Today, CEOs also face issues of sexual orientation, as Critelli has found. He explains: "We implemented domestic-partners benefits so that we could qualify to do business in some cities in California [San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland]. Then I got a letter from an employee who was a member of the Mormon Church, saying she was resigning because of the fact that we're 'condoning sinful lifestyles.' I think we're going to see more of those conflicts." While respecting the employee's objection, Critelli kept the policy in place. In general, he says, Pitney Bowes has established certain core principles for leading a diverse work force and uses them as a guide when issues or conflicts arise.

Another more obvious work-force issue sure to arise is the aging of the baby-boom generation, notes Critelli, 53. When boomers hit retirement age, beginning in less than a decade, America will face a crisis in covering the cost of Social Security and medical benefits for the aged. This grim reality was masked somewhat during the '80s and '90s, suggests Critelli, by optimistic assumptions about personal retirement-investment plans.

Meanwhile, to prepare for the inevitable crunch, many companies have shifted from traditional pension plans to 40l(k)s and cut back on retirees' health benefits. "But that's all a Band-Aid," argues Critelli, whose $4 billion company has about 25,000 employees operating in 130 countries. "Ultimately, the bill is going to come due."

CEO of Software Spectrum

Something has to give. Either people will have to continue working much later into life, companies and employees will have to pay higher taxes or workers must be willing to accept lower benefits, Critelli asserts. "All of that's going to be a drag on our economy if we don't figure out a way to solve it." Government and corporate America have to tackle the problem together as quickly as possible, he believes. The simplest thing to do, he warns, would be to "foist the issue back on corporate America. But that will crush corporate America if there isn't a more balanced approach."


Portability Paves The Way for Women Executives

Judey Odom

As CEO of a $2.4 billion global software company, Judy Odom knows as well as anyone how advances in technology continue to make work more portable than ever. And portability, she asserts, is especially crucial for women executives as they struggle to balance family and career. But for such women to be freed from their desks, holds Odom, more CEOs must come to embrace the idea that a manager needn't always be in the office.

"We have to have business environments that are accepting of that and willing to look for solutions that will allow those very talented women, during the years when they need to be starting their families, to not abandon their careers," says the chief of Software Spectrum. The company, which helps large corporations purchase licensed software, was acquired by Level 3 Communications in June. Odom, 49, retained her CEO title, which she has held since 1988.

The issue of portability will become even more pressing in the decades ahead as more women enter the labor force. By 2030, women will comprise 48 percent of America's work force, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics projections, up from 38 percent in 1970, when women began working in significant numbers.

Software Spectrum has taken two key steps toward increasing portability for its employees, Odom explains. First, the company created secure remote Internet access to all of its internal systems. "As a result," she says, "the tools and resources that are available in the office are now securely available to our employees from home." In addition, the company broadcasts many of its monthly department meetings in real-time over its private Internet network. This, too, keeps employees who are out of the office well connected.


Color-Blind Businesses Will Thrive


CEO of BET Holdings

When Black Entertainment Television, or BET, announced in November 2000 that it was being acquired by Viacom for $3 billion in stock, many African-Americans considered the deal bittersweet. On the one hand, it marked a huge triumph for an innovative black-owned business and created one of the nation's first black billionaires in Robert Johnson, BET's founder, CEO and majority owner. But its sale to the media conglomerate also meant that BET would no longer be majority-owned by African-Americans.

Johnson, 56, who remains CEO of Washington-based BET Holdings, which operates four cable-television stations as well as, the No. 1 Internet portal for African-Americans, believes the time has passed for distinguishing ownership by race. For black-oriented businesses to thrive over the next 25 years--as he fully expects them to do with the growth of the black consumer base--Johnson argues, they must be willing to accept equity from white investors.

A case in point is Radio One, which recently lost its status as America's largest black-owned broadcasting company when its secondary stock offerings cut the equity stake of black owners to 25 percent. The key, insists Johnson, is growth, not race. What's more, he adds, while companies like BET and Radio One are no longer black-owned, they continue to wield a large influence on African-American culture.

The notion of black-owned businesses goes back generations, to the post-slavery era, when blacks had difficulty getting hired by whites. Many blacks formed their own businesses and resolved to patronize only black-owned establishments. Black Enterprise magazine has been tracking the nation's leading black-owned businesses annually since 1973.

But today, Johnson holds: "It's becoming a distinction without relevance, except for the historical significance and to some extent the sense of pride of owning something. But long term, only taking money from African-Americans is a wrong strategy if you believe in growth."

role of the ceo

Future CEO: Chief Educational Officer

Terry Mcgraw

CEO McGraw-Hill

With all the challenges that corporate chiefs now face, it's no wonder their turnover rate is on the rise. Between 1995 and 2001, CEO turnover at major companies increased by 53 percent, while the average tenure declined by more than two years, to 7.3 years, according to a recent study by the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton.

And if today's CEOs think they have it tough, just wait, warns Terry McGraw, CEO of The McGraw-Hill Cos., the $4.6 billion global publisher of textbooks and business information. The New York-based multimedia company publishes Business Week and owns the financial ratings and analysis provider Standard & Poor's.

According to McGraw, the job of CEO will only get harder. Twenty-five years from now, corporate chiefs will have to travel more than they do today to steep themselves in new markets abroad, predicts McGraw, 54, whose great-grandfather co-founded the company in upstate New York in 1888 as a publisher of technical and trade magazines. And instead of using technology merely as a means to greater efficiency, he adds, CEOs will have to continually apply it to produce new revenues.

He cites the evolution of Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine as an example. For decades, McGraw-Hill published a new edition of the popular text every two years. Then the company created an online edition that could be updated instantly and sold by subscription instead of as a one-time charge. More recently, it designed a version that doctors can access with hand-held devices.

But above all, McGraw maintains, the greatest challenge for tomorrow's CEOs lies in their ability to teach. The larger and more complex the corporation, he says, the more its employees must be trained to think. Having a few established operating systems or experienced people with institutional knowledge simply isn't enough.

"CEOs are going to have to be very good teachers,' McGraw asserts. "The impact they can have is being able to take their experience and relate it in a way that people can better understand how to go about doing things -- how to think more broadly, how an organization achieves -- and what teamwork really means."

role of the ceo

More Than Rhetoric, Teamwork Is Key

Chad Holliday

CEO of McGraw-Hill

Chad Holliday isn't harboring any delusions. Yes, as chairman and CEO of DuPont, the No. 2 chemical maker in the United States after Dow Chemical Holliday assumes enormous responsibility, overseeing 79,000 employees--many of them working on cutting-edge science--in roughly 70 countries. But, he insists, for the $24.7 billion, Wilmington, Del.-based DuPont or any major company to thrive in the 25 years to come, it will need teamwork, not a single leader, at the top.

For chemical manufacturers, the challenges are tremendous, says Holiday, 54. An industrial engineer by training, he has spent more than 30 years with DuPont, a company whose inventions include such widely used materials as Teflon, Lycra and Kevlar. In developing new products, chemical makers must integrate the latest breakthroughs in biotechnology, fuel-cell technology and nanotechnology. And given the heightened competition brought on by globalization, combined with advances in information technology, the demand for speed as well as innovation has never been greater.

"If we're not constantly improving the productivity of everything we do, we're just not going to have a chance to practice our science," asserts Holliday, who became CEO in 1998.

All of these challenges, he argues, means the job of running such a company is beyond the ability of any one person. With that in mind, when visiting DuPont's labs, plants and marketing offices, Holiday says, it's teamwork he looks for most.

"At successful companies," he maintains, "there's a team at every level that's really strong, that really cares about the success of the company, that understands the goals and objectives and is working on them. So the CEO spends more time making sure those teams are in place, as opposed to trying to be the brilliant decision-maker or the charismatic leader." "If you're depending on one person to make the decisions," Holiday concludes, "you just won't be fast enough to compete."
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Title Annotation:chief executive officers
Author:Gilbert, Jennifer
Publication:Chief Executive (U.S.)
Article Type:Statistical Data Included
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 1, 2002
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