P&G's Irwin Lee: 'My job is to serve from the bottom, not direct from the top'

Procter & Gamble UK and Ireland vice-president and managing director Irwin Lee shares what he has learned about business and life.

We are more similar than different. In general, the fundamental aspirations of people everywhere are similar - better quality of life, upward mobility, better future for their children, value and convenience. Even business challenges across developed versus emerging markets are analogous. For example, the value equation challenge versus private-label brands in Europe is essentially the same as for local, low-cost brands in China. Take lessons from anywhere and everywhere.

It's easy to play the extremes, harder to achieve perfect balance. Top-line versus bottom-line growth; discipline versus agility; data versus creativity; short-term price promotions versus long-term brand-building; global scale and standardisation versus local differentiation. Leaders find the sweet spot and make tough calls on how to play across the spectrum of choices.

Branding in a value-challenged world. In recessionary times, it's even more important to invest in brand-building, since it is a time when trade-down and commoditisation gain momentum. Brands have to sharpen their value propositions (performance/price) and have to be relentless, with continuous innovation and creative ideas.

Believe in the power of ideas. Ideas remain the energy of our industry. They fuel innovation and spark creativity. Our job is to combine human insight with creativity - and "the big idea" holds all this together. The media may vary, the technology may change and the platforms may proliferate - but the big idea remains indispensable.

Fragmentation versus integration. We live and operate in an increasingly multichannel and multimedia world - in-store/online/mobile/TV/radio/outdoor/print/digital/social.

It's not as much about shifting among fragmented choices; the trick is how to best integrate across multiple platforms.

Servant leadership. To be of best service to my organisation, I strive to provide clarity of strategic direction, help find systemic sustainable solutions and simplify the complexities that crop up all around us. My job is to serve from the bottom, not direct from the top.

Empower and engage. We can get mired in so many things. Empower decisions to be taken at the lowest effective level. Engage the boss on matters that are big, breakthrough or broken.

Demand excellence. "If you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it." (W Somerset Maugham)

No one has a monopoly on excellence. Whatever talents we have been blessed with, others have in different forms and amounts. Be humble in victories, for there will always be things to learn and people to learn from.

Developing the next generation. We tell aspiring brand managers to "leave a brand stronger than when you got it". It's the same philosophy with organisations - find people better than you, and leave an organisation that is stronger than when you got it.

Discussion

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now

Latest

John Lewis walks consumers through its history to celebrate 150 years of business
Waitrose boosts content strategy with 'Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose' C4 tie-up
Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers
Ex-M&S marketing chief Steven Sharp consulting at WPP
Wolff Olins reveals new CEO after Apple poaches Karl Heiselman
Glasgow offers £30,000 prize to best digital idea for 2014 Commonwealth Games
Google's revenues surge but shares drop as it grapples with transition to mobile
Facebook beats Twitter to most 'marketing friendly' social media site crown, says DMA
Fableists believe children like Finn should be outdoors enjoying life
Homebase, Baileys and Camelot join the line-up at Media360
MasterCard renews Rugby World Cup sponsorship to push cashless message
Lynx unleashes £9m 'Peace invasion' campaign
Social Brands 100 Youth: Pizza Hut most social youth brand in UK
Cheryl Cole is wild and arresting in new L'Oreal work
Morrisons told not to show alcohol ads during YouTube nursery rhymes
O2 head of brand Shadi Halliwell departs after 23 years at company in restructure
Tesco hit by further sales decline as it turns to digital Clubcard and social network
Branding guru Wally Olins dies aged 83
Duracell short film captures epic Transatlantic voyage
Ash runs Tinder experiment to show smokers are less desirable to opposite sex
British Airways teams up with Gerry Cottle Jnr for summer of rooftop film screenings
Arklu says 'girls can be superheroes too' with doll design competition
Coke enters squash market with Oasis Mighty Drops
Virgin Galactic signs up Land Rover as space flight sponsor
Motorola marketer Andrew Morley departs as Google gears up for sale to Lenovo
US Airways apologises after tweeting obscene image at a customer