Three CEOs who made their mark
The “People’s CEO”
Genghis Khan and Maggie Wilderotter, CEO of Frontier Communication from 2004 to 2015.
When Maggie Wilderotter became head of Frontier Communications, an American regional telephone operator, the company was divided into two classes of employees: the white-collar workers at the Norwalk, Connecticut, head office and the blue-collar workers in contact with customers, spread across more than 15,000 rural counties and suburbs in the United States. The officials at headquarters did not visit the company’s different locations, seemed to despise their blue-collar colleagues, were ignorant of the local realities, and enjoyed exorbitant perks (a private jet with six pilots, a company doctor, and so) even though the company was losing money.
The importance of a strong narrative
Bushido and Jim Barksdale, CEO of Netscape Communications from 1995 to 1999.
Founded in 1994, Netscape was one of the first companies to surf the opportunities of the Internet. Its pioneering web browserwas used by more than 90% of Internet users in 1996. In its early months, the culture within the young startup was that of Silicon Valley pushed to the extreme: a nonhierarchical organization, collegial decision-making, every employee having a say and wanting to dominate the debates. The discussions dragged on, and, even when a decision was made, it was not uncommon for it to be questioned.
Inclusion in action
Shaka Senghor and Don Thompson, CEO of McDonald’s from 2012 to 2015.
After growing up in a poor neighborhood in Chicago, Don Thompson graduated with an engineering degree from Purdue University. He joined McDonald’s in 1990. In charge of quality management at the time, he learned about the company’s operational processes, the subcultures of its different units, restaurant operations, and the daily work of their teams. He then took charge of several regional offices before being appointed executive vice president and chief operating officer in 2005.
Excerpt from Business Digest N°303, February 2020