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Tab Wilkins


Are CEOs Asking Themselves ‘What If?’

You can count on change; therefore the CEO has to connect the dots

Published: Monday, May 2, 2016 - 15:10

Recently I came across the PriceWaterhouseCoopers U.S. CEO Survey and watched several videos about leadership challenges for manufacturers. The speakers talked about new and old trends they’re focused on as company leaders, as well as several trends that could apply to small and medium-sized manufacturers.

The top five leadership challenges in the survey included:
• Harnessing digital media
• Integrating diversity of the workforce
• Technology adoption in manufacturing
• Developing emerging markets
• Partnering

Alex A. Molinzaroli is the chairman, president, and CEO of Johnson Controls Inc. He talked about de-emphasizing North America and Europe as growth lessens there and expanding into emerging markets. A second theme was about partnering to accelerate growth, and creating relationships with suppliers and customers. Also at the top of his mind is improving company diversity and how, as the CEO, he can better relate to employees by being flexible and trusting people.

Advanced car systems were discussed during the interview with Rodney O’Neal, the CEO and president of Delphi Automotive Systems LLC. Did you know there are more than 50 computers in cars today? O’Neal talked about technology adoption and what features to expect in the near future. He spoke of the idea that you can count on change, therefore CEOs have to connect the dots. That means listening to what the world is saying and decoding the message to create the vision, strategy, and tactics for the company.

The president and CEO of Campbell Soup Co. US, Denise Morrison, talked about using ecommerce, and how a shift in demographics, the changes in families, and the growth of a middle class in emerging markets have affected Campbell’s products. She talked about building purpose, and about the challenges concerning the company culture and the product line as its customers and employees in the millennial generation grow up.

Perhaps my favorite of the videos was an interview with Alan Wilson, the chairman, president, and CEO of McCormick & Co. He told how this 125-year-old spice company is learning best practices from other industries, dealing with cybersecurity, working with social networks for new product development, and using lab robots to mix and identify origins and flavor notes. He also spoke about McCormick’s diversified workforce that includes talented people from around the world. Wilson has the natural curiosity that a CEO must have to be successful.

These videos are short, poignant, and interesting. If you’re interested in executing any of the concepts that were discussed—emerging markets, technology adoption, workforce development, and supply chain partnering—contact your local Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Center. The MEP program is a national network of specialists who understand the needs of small manufacturers in the United States, and helps put them in position to develop new products and customers, expand into global markets, adopt new technology, and more. Find your local MEP Center here


About The Author

Tab Wilkins’s picture

Tab Wilkins

Tab Wilkins is a regional manager for strategic transition and a senior technology advisor at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), primarily supporting MEP centers in the western United States. Wilkins helped establish and run two MEP centers and has a varied background in nonprofit management, leadership development, and technology-based economic development.