“A lot of us look back and say, ‘That was one of the finest memories I have of my career.’ We were on fire. The business results were great,” said Chip Bergh, reflecting on his experience as president of Procter & Gamble’s (P&G) Asia operations.
One of the “finest memories” of his career? That is impressive, considering Bergh went on to lead Gillett after it was acquired by P&G and currently serves as CEO of Levi Strauss & Co.
I asked Bergh to elaborate on why his experience leading P&G’s Asia operations ranked so highly in his remarkable career?
Bergh explained that what he and his team built “was diversity in action.”
“At one point, I think we had 28 nationalities and 55 different languages spoken in the office,” he said. “That’s part of what made that concept so powerful. Within the first year, people were really beginning to make friends with those outside of their group. People became colorblind. Ethnic and cultural boundaries fell away. Within three years, we had Indians marrying Filipinos and so on. It was really cool.”
The organizational prowess Bergh describes is particularly impressive when viewed in the context of what he inherited when first asked to move to Singapore and lead P&G’s Asia operations.
When Bergh arrived, the business was about $1 billion in sales across Asia, India, and Australia — a population that exceeded 2 billion people. These were paltry results for one of the largest multinational consumer goods companies in the world. Bergh was tasked with the challenge of inspiring the Asia region’s employees to manifest P&G’s vision that had led to so much success in North America and Europe.
Talk about a challenge! Where would one begin? How could anybody bring together a group of diverse employees, representing 55 languages, around a vision that was set in Cincinnati, over 10,000 miles away?
Among other steps… (access the article)