FROM SALES REP TO CEO
Anne Mulcahy did not plan to be a business leader. She graduated from Marymount College with a BA degree in English and Journalism. She wanted to be an editor like her Father. Instead, her Brother convinced her to go to work for Xerox. Anne began working for Xerox in 1976 as a field sales representative. Over the years, she worked her way up the corporate ladder until in 2001 she became the first woman CEO of the company. When Anne became Xerox’s CEO in 2001, the company was in crisis. They were $18 billion in debt and on the verge of bankruptcy, they were being investigated for unethical accounting practices in Mexico, their customers were irate due to poor customer service, their employees were demoralized, and their stockholders were angry because their stock prices had dropped from a high of $64 a share to just over $8 a share.
The first thing Anne did as CEO was to ask for help from Warren Buffet who told her to “Focus on your customers, and lead your people as though their lives depended on your success” That is what she did. Anne made focusing on the customer her and Xerox’s number one priority. The first year as CEO, she told her employees that she would fly anywhere to save any customer for Xerox and she did. She traveled over 100,000 miles and met with 50 CEOs of client companies. She listened to them and responded to their feedback. She also listened to analysts, employees, and critics. She brought up the morale of the employees by giving the workers a reason to be hopeful and committed to the company, making them feel the company was worth saving, working alongside them, and making them feel a sense of recognition for their contributions. She aligned them around the common goal of focusing on the customer and gave them a vision for the future. In slightly over three years, Anne brought Xerox out of debt and back into being a company with a bright future.
What personal qualities does Anne have that make her a successful...
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