Founder & Senior Managing Director, The Parthenon Group
Be humble enough to change course.
As the chairman and managing partner of The Parthenon Group consulting firm, Bill Achtmeyer T’81 has worked with hundreds of senior executives at Fortune 500 companies. A former chairman of Tuck’s board of overseers and a director of Briggs & Stratton Corp., Achtmeyer shares five pieces of advice for managing a large organization effectively.
1. Have a clear sense of what you want to be. If someone asks what your organization’s reason for being is, you have to have a short, pithy answer. If you’re Disney, it might be “creating magic.” If you’re Goldman Sachs Group, it might be “the best global financial adviser.” If you have this, make sure you constantly reinforce it. If the idea is simple and becomes ingrained in the firm, it can be really powerful.
2. Keep a Kitchen Cabinet. At any point in time, you need to have three to five people you can really trust and go to in order to get an unvarnished view of the world. These can be both people on your management team or outside advisers, including board members or lawyers. You can’t rely too heavily on a single person because sometimes he or she just won’t be available.
3. Live by the values you and the firm espouse. Hypocrisy rankles. Whatever your firm’s stated values are, make sure you adhere to them personally and professionally. If you emphasize meritocracy but only promote favorites, that’s not going to ring true in the organization. If you say you’re entrepreneurial but you rarely take suggestions or only take them from a select few, that’s not consistent.
4. If you don’t revel in the job, get out. The pressures of being a top executive are enormous, so if you don’t love the responsibility, do something else. If you’re there just for the bonuses or the private plane or whatever perks come with the job, if you carry the burden too heavily or are beginning to lose interest but want to maintain power, it’s not going to work out over the long term.
5. Be humble enough to change course. The pace of change in today’s business world is so rapid and the amount of information available is so great that you’re constantly having to reevaluate things about your company. Richard Branson, chairman of Virgin Group Ltd., and Kenneth Chenault, CEO of American Express Co., are both examples of people who’ve been able to adapt established companies to keep up with the times.
How to Be a Successful Operations Leader
To succeed in operations, says ZOE COO Nicole Xu T’11, you need the short-term vision to run the business day-to-day, but you also need to be able to think three to five years ahead to build for the future.Read More
Improving Financial Health in the COVID-Era
Prudential President Jamie Kalamarides T'94 on how to improve your financial health during the COVID-19 era.Read More
Melissa Llarena T’10 on Feeling Empowered Amid Uncertainty
As a career coach and host of the An Interview with Melissa Llarena podcast, Melissa Llarena T’10 is driven by helping marketers and creative professionals rediscover their sellable strengths.Read More
How to Create a Customer-First Culture
Alison Elworthy T’11, SVP of customer success at HubSpot, offers advice on how to put customers first—no matter the size of your organization.Read More
How to Build Your Personal Leadership Style
Successful leaders develop their own authentic and personal leadership style, says long-time PetSmart CEO David Lenhardt T’96.Read More
As the vice president for Latin America and the Caribbean, Andrei Belyi T'01 leads TechnoServe’s mission of providing business solutions to poverty in 11 countries.Read More
Michaela LeBlanc Weber
Several times a month, Michaela (LeBlanc) Weber T’15 trades in her business suit for a bright orange jumpsuit, hard hat, and steel-toed boots.Read More
How to Keep Your Company Data Secure
What Alison Connolly T’11 finds fascinating, most corporate leaders find terrifying. The director of strategic partnerships at DarkOwl is an expert on the darknet.Read More
How to Make a Successful Startup Pitch
In her seven years as a venture partner at LaunchCapital in Cambridge, Mass., Heather Onstott T’07 has heard about 1,000 pitches from startups.Read More
Marketing a Disruptive Brand
Together, two Tuck alumni, Kate Jhaveri T’03 and Michael Aragon T’01, led marketing and innovation at the growing global brand Twitch.Read More
Charles F. Preusse II
A partner at Ridgeway Partners, Charles Preusse, II T’95 is a matchmaker of strategic talent.Read More
After guiding National City Corp through the financial crisis, Peter Raskind D’78, T’79 found civic engagement in confronting two of Cleveland's public crises—for the sum total of $2.Read More
Christoph Böhmer T’96 is helping lead a 500-strong volunteer effort to resettle Afghan, Iranian, and Syrian refugees in Germany.Read More
Lauren Krostue T’10 tried working in other industries, but something about the hospitality world kept drawing her back.Read More
How to Promote Diversity and Nurture Talent
After Tuck, Suzanne Schaefer T’02 went into management consulting, figuring that eventually she might connect with a particular industry—to her surprise, she instead felt a strong pull toward recruiting and talent development.Read More
At Tuck, Jayne Hrdlicka T'88 learned to think deeply and challenge convention—skills she drew on as CEO of the Jetstar Group of airlines.Read More
Shawna Huffman Owen
If you think the Web made travel agents obsolete, Shawna Huffman Owen T’98 has news for you.Read More
Kathryn Baker T'93 is a true expert on boards of directors. She has served on more than 20 of them over the last 16 years, ranging from oil and gas companies to Norway’s Central Bank to Tuck’s own European Advisory Board.Read More
Over twenty years ago, Carolyn McGuire T’83 helped form Community Consulting Teams of Boston. It’s still going strong today—and facilitating a lot of good work.Read More
T'98 Victoria Levy’s post-Tuck career took off with The Monitor Group, an iconic strategic consulting firm where she became a partner by age 33. Now, the firm has been acquired by Deloitte and Levy is guiding the integration of the two practices.Read More
Not many people in ball bearing sales finish their careers in venture capital. For Mike Carusi T’93, now one of the most successful health care investors in Silicon Valley, that unlikely journey started with two eye-opening years at Tuck.Read More
On Establishing Your Personal Brand
Helen Kurtz T’97, chief marketing officer and senior vice president of Foster Farms, Inc. talks establishing your personal brand.Read More
Fluent in four languages and passionate about entrepreneurship, Michelle Mooradian D’95, T’04 went from her post-Tuck consulting job at Opera Solutions to spend almost five years working for McKinsey’s Rio de Janeiro office.Read More
Tips for Transforming Your Career
After positions of increasing seniority at Morgan Stanley, McKinsey, and JPMorgan, Kate Grussing T’91 decided she wanted to transform her career by helping others transform theirs.Read More
On the Rewards of Nonprofit Board Service
Amy Houston T’97 was inspired to attend Tuck after seeing firsthand how a board with for-profit management experience can help a nonprofit, and she kept this lesson in mind when she joined the Robin Hood Foundation.Read More
On Influencing Company Culture
In his six seasons as executive vice president and chief human resources officer for the National Football League, Robert Gulliver T’97 has helped manage the NFL through some major cultural shifts.Read More
Amy Feind Reeves
A consultant turned job coach, Amy Reeves T'92, was able to research, model, and project the successful future of her business using the skills she acquired at Tuck.Read More
In much of the Middle East and North Africa, cash is still king. PayPal’s Francis Barel T’05 wants to change that, and open people’s lives to the world along the way.Read More
How Small Businesses Can Use Online Marketing Tools
After gaining experience at several software startups, Gail Goodman T’87 launched her own in 1999. As CEO of Constant Contact, Goodman has helped more than a half-million small-business customers navigate a rapidly evolving industry.Read More
A new book on design strategy by Deepa Prahalad T'00, daughter of management guru C.K. Prahalad, was rated by Fast Company as one of the 13 best design books of the year.Read More