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Fred -- -- -- singer to you about growth.
The former CEO of Schering-Plough -- the company's bottom line from one billion in the red.
To two billion in positive profits in just four years.
And oversaw Sharon's 41 point one billion dollar mega merger with Merck.
He says the key to success is to avoid getting too comfortable this is what allows companies big and small to become prisoners of their own environments.
The author of reinvent is here today to discuss changing corporate culture encouraging failure and how to get a sinking company back on track.
-- Fred thank you very much for coming in with us today.
Thank you Kate it's a pleasure really it's great to have you.
-- CEO of Schering-Plough and turned a one billion dollar cash burn into a positive profit of two billion dollars a year.
And you also oversaw this major merger with Merck 41 point one billion dollars.
I want to know what you've seen being at that large company and other large companies what they're getting right about growth.
There is a commonality that comes to most successful companies.
And it's have people.
It's culture and its execution.
It's like three legs of the stool and if you get those three right then that becomes a strategic competitive advantage even when times -- and the -- type.
-- if you get new competitors that might be trying to disrupt your business model and if you have these three working for you you can have -- learning Kutcher on the inside that allows you to adapt.
Who knew the circumstances so that's that's a competitive advantage that's the commonality here in about that the many of the companies that are -- to in my book agreement.
And on the flip side what some of the things that these big companies are getting wrong about growth.
Think the biggest issue is hubris.
Big companies start to.
In their own Kutcher and -- in their own attitude and that people start to get into a cruise control mode.
And learning starts to slow down and information sharing starts to slow down.
And the smaller number of competitors come and start to disrupt the company's business model so bigger companies have them.
Big challenge of becoming very frozen in their cultures.
And he -- small companies are able to be -- -- and they're able to more easily unfreeze their environment and their cultural bias.
The small companies cannot be -- cute because they aren't there.
When there's a lot of sharing people share information share credit shared the blame this -- of ownership and accountability and constant learning.
That's much easier to happen.
In a smaller business than -- a bigger business in a bigger business the CEO has to make that work and very conscious work is wanna business.
Those things happen more easily.
Absolutely you said CEOs really need to walk a lot gray seal it needs to walk the walk -- -- -- model their expectations.
Think people put the team at the top would also -- -- model their expectations so that the whole thing cascades in a manner where there -- At tight connection with the Frontline manager here -- here is called green that.
What do you know about reinvention how often -- to do it how do you know it's the right time for your company to reinvent itself I think the most important thing is to.
Do a good job but then when.
Things change in the environment or if you feel that you reached the level where you're not able to change.
That's enough that's the time to move Lex had the discomfort zone and do something new.
In order for a company to revitalize itself it should -- on assumptions and keep.
Asking yourself are we staying cutting edge are we staying.
In line with the future that's going to be there.
And and are we taking the actions necessary to keep us strong ideas down the road similarly for -- as the -- -- -- own career.
They they need to be thinking forward and the -- themselves.
But in thinking follower in thinking five years ahead you keep it stuck in your plan right the plan has to be fluid -- you need to be able to change and adapt.
I think flexibility.
Is one of the most important aspects of the times that we -- and we live in -- that's accelerating change but also -- change things happen.
It is very quickly and the ability to move quickly is is really.
And speaking of you know adapting and bouncing back in making mistakes I'm curious you ban all over the mr.
resonates so expansive -- major companies like Time Warner.
Avon what's your biggest business mistake or something that you wish you did different.
-- in my case I was doing very well in Lincoln Nebraska in the in the mid seventies I turnaround a line of cough and cold products that we were.
A marketing to the pediatricians.
And and we thought we could do the same with the sunscreen product that -- came up with quotes umbrella and by going to that it didn't -- -- -- dermatologists.
Hawaii sun -- products -- on the -- is the arrow push business data -- business that not every doctor recommendation business you -- go out to the doctors and have them salad or he assisted dermatologist couldn't couldn't do much for us and the whole thing had to be written off.
It was a humbling experience.
And a very strong learning experience which is always remain humble and always try to do -- will work.
Before you go forward with anything major like that.
And I often ask -- -- -- worries about having a personal border drafters people -- -- -- their friends or family that help advise them when they're just starting out.
Can you even on the board of many -- different companies I want to know how you help guiding advise those brands that you're tasked with being responsible for an keeping them on track.
Boards have a very important duty to who play.
We read a lot about border these days they usually end up around governance checklists and very mechanical things yes -- can do a lot more than that.
Some boards number one have a duty.
To be very good at governance and that's that's -- they -- Board votes have a duty to be good advisors.
On strategy and that's where they are supporting.
There -- the -- of their board should be out of the way when it comes to the minutiae of the business so boards need to be exercising situation on leadership.
And that's something that's not well understood people would do that quite well -- doesn't need to know when they need to leave and when they need to.
Stay away and let management do that job.
He stepped in and Avon in 2012.
After Andrea Jung has left longtime CEO he did a short stint there the company was embroiled in scandal over.
Anti bribery compliance issues in the whole -- snowballed from there what did you learn about working at a company and leading a company that was in such public scandal in turn -- If -- -- very good learning experience but.
What I learned there really applies to a lot of different boards so I just make a general comment.
It's very important to.
Certainly signs of fundamental.
Decline in the business but sometimes boards became home.
Board become aware.
-- -- Rather late.
Seeing the early markers is is very important because then aboard can be more attentive in and getting into the business and asking more he -- questions and the second thing is that the audit committee.
Plays a very important role and it's not just looking at the numbers and it's also looking at the overall compliance process he's in -- company.
The audit committee's role in this century has changed quite a bit anesthetic gained over the next ten years as well -- -- change in the next ten years.
Because people are expecting audit committees.
To understand the wind is.
Issue with books and records yes it might be an issue with -- aspects of the operations including.
The integrity in the companies and some other areas.
What it committees have to go beyond the numbers to look at the overall atmosphere in the company so there I felt very -- had -- eyes open and and and really look at the culture of the company because in many ways they get to see -- real factor of the company we're looking at the things that -- look at.
Great -- have to thank you very much for coming in my figure -- really good.
From New York -- Rogers foxbusiness.com.
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