Reuben Mark Likes Retirement

Posted by: Jena McGregor on October 16, 2007

While he was CEO of Colgate-Palmolive—and at 23 years, that was a very long time—Reuben Mark was known for keeping Colgate a relatively private company. He was also known for his management capabilities and the company’s success: Under his tenure, Colgate outperformed the S&P 500 by a mile. Now that he’s retired—Ian Cook took over the top spot in July—he seems to be a little more available. Wharton’s web site has a recap of a speech he gave recently at the business school. A couple of interesting tidbits:

—At one point, Colgate management tried to get all 35,000 employees to wear ID tags with their first names in big type to make it easier for top executives to connect with employees. Can you imagine always wearing a name tag at work?

—Mark told students that business leaders should think of their company’s performance in terms of a bell curve. The left side is poor performance; the right, excellent. Managers’ jobs are to move the whole bell curve to the right: “It’s not romantic or revolutionary or headline-getting, but over time, that’s what generates success.”

—And perhaps most surprising: He likes retirement. “I was probably in the job too long,” he said.

Reader Comments

Brandon W

October 16, 2007 1:41 PM

- "Managers’ jobs are to move the whole bell curve to the right: “It’s not romantic or revolutionary or headline-getting, but over time, that’s what generates success.”"

This truly is the manager's job; long-term growth and profitability. The past 25 years has seen the shift in corporate America from long-term success to short-term number-chasing, to the point of accounting chicanery. Long-term success is even sacrificed at the altar of Wall Street. Jumping on the bandwagon of every management craze driven by the world of “professional” consulting will not bring success. Only steady, confident leadership with a focus on being the best market provider for generations to come will create a truly successful business.

patricio badinella

April 9, 2009 7:08 PM

I WAS REGIONAL CREATIVE DIRECTOR FOR COLGATE PALMOLIVE FOR 22 YEARS..FIRST FROM FCB..THEN FROM YOUNG&RUBICAM .I DID FOR THEM MORE THAN 250 TV ADS AND GRAPHIC CAMPAIGNS GLOBALLY...AND KNOW THIS PARTNERSHIP IS OVER...WITH NO COMPENSATION IN ANY WAY...MR. REUBEN MARK WAS ALWAYS VERY PLEASED WITH MY WORK...HE DOESN´T KNOW ABOUT THIS SITUATION...HE ALWAYS CARE ABOUT HIS PEOPLE...BUT I DONT KNOW HOW TO LET HIM KNOW ABOUT ...MAYBE YOU CAN HELP ME TO FIND THE WAY...THANKS

Post a comment

 

About

How can you manage smarter? Bloomberg Businessweek contributors synthesize insights from the brightest business thinkers, critique the latest management trends, and comment on leaders in the news.

BW Mall - Sponsored Links

Buy a link now!