Sallie Krawcheck, CFO and head of strategy for Citigroup, was a research analyst from 1994 to 2002, a job she describes as being “an unbelievable training ground for leadership.” Ian Davis, managing director of McKinsey, suggests that “maximization of shareholder value is in danger of becoming irrelevant” as new societal pressures, such as regulation and environmental sustainability, come to the fore. Judy Lewent, CFO and executive vice president of Merck, uses the words “passion, courage, resilience and vision” when describing her success in the pharmaceutical world. And Larry Gagosian, considered by some to be one of the most astute dealers in the art world, warns collectors not to “buy somebody else’s taste” and not to purchase art “just to flip it” for a quick profit. All four came to Wharton last month to offer their insights into what it takes to get to the top.
For Sallie L. Krawcheck, chief financial officer and head of strategy for Citigroup, success means having a thick skin, learning to take rejection, being lonely, working hard, feeling superstitious, showing self-confidence but not arrogance, and always reporting the right numbers. And that’s just for starters. Krawcheck spoke recently at Wharton as part of the school’s Leadership Lecture series.
Shareholder value is growing increasingly irrelevant as government and society take a larger role in shaping business and industry, according to Ian Davis, managing director of McKinsey, the global management-consulting firm. In a Wharton Leadership Lecture, Davis said new societal pressures, such as regulation and environmental sustainability, are now joining the list of long-standing issues — including growth, globalization and technology — that demand the attention of today’s CEOs.
When Judy C. Lewent assumed the position of chief financial officer at Merck in 1990, she became one of the most powerful women in corporate America and the first woman to serve as the CFO of a major corporation. But perhaps one of her most challenging moments, she noted during a recent Wharton Leadership Lecture, came in 2004 when Merck was rocked by the Vioxx controversy and Lewent was asked to reassure employees and analysts alike that the company’s financial health was not at risk.
“Art is not tradable, like an asset. You shouldn’t acquire it to add to a diverse portfolio,” says art dealer Larry Gagosian, who was the inaugural speaker at “The Business of Art,” a joint venture between Wharton and the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA). While Gagosian emphasized the people skills needed to work with artists, he also acknowledged that marketing and management can have equally important roles in the intersection of art dealers, buyers and investors.