FEBRUARY 9, 2011
JOHN J. GABARRO COLLEEN KAFTAN
Jamie Turner at MLI, Inc.
“Had I known how hard this job would be, I might have thought twice about leaving the one at Wolf River,” Jamie Turner reflected as he waited for his boss, Pat Cardullo, to arrive at the office on a blustery September morning. At 32, Turner was struggling in his third marketing management position since completing his MBA six years earlier. Only six months into his current assignment at Modern Lighting Industries, Inc. (MLI), he was starting to worry that his string of previous successes had hit a serious snag. Working for Cardullo had become as confusing, unpredictable, and frustrating as anything he’d ever experienced. When Cardullo, president of MLI, had interviewed Turner and invited him to join the company as vice president for marketing and sales, Turner had found the older man smart, friendly, even charismatic. Cardullo had offered him a free hand in reorganizing the marketing area, and had all but guaranteed that Turner would take over as president within two years. Before long, however, things began to go wrong: Cardullo started to seem distant and critical, and he intervened frequently in marketing decisions, sometimes undermining or even reversing Turner’s decisions. The turnaround Cardullo was attempting to engineer at MLI had stalled, sales were again declining, and things in general were rapidly deteriorating. Turner didn’t know whether to be happy or anxious—or both— when Alan Oliver, the CEO of MLI’s parent company, announced that he would fly in the following week to review the situation. Turner thought it was critical to resolve his differences with Cardullo before Oliver arrived. Hoping to talk things out, he had asked Cardullo to join him for drinks after work, and then for lunch each of the next two days—but Cardullo declined all three invitations and shared lunch with other managers instead. Today Turner planned to approach Cardullo as soon as he came in. Cardullo usually arrived at 9:00 a.m., which gave Turner almost half an hour to organize his thoughts.
A native of Scranton, Pennsylvania, Turner had attended Notre Dame and graduated near the top of his class. He then spent two years in new-customer development at Globalbank in Raleigh, North Carolina, and went on to earn his MBA from a top-rated business school. Despite the opportunities ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ HBS Professor John J. Gabarro and writer Colleen Kaftan prepared this case solely as a basis for class discussion and not as an endorsement, a source of primary data, or an illustration of effective or ineffective management. This case, though based on real events, is fictionalized, and any resemblance to actual persons or entities is coincidental. There are occasional references to actual companies in the narration. Copyright © 2011 Harvard Business School Publishing. To order copies or request permission to reproduce materials, call 1-800-545-7685, write Harvard Business Publishing, Boston, MA 02163, or go to http://www.hbsp.harvard.edu. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, used in a spreadsheet, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise—without the permission of Harvard Business Publishing. Harvard Business Publishing is an affiliate of Harvard Business School.
4254 | Jamie Turner at MLI, Inc.
awaiting him at Globalbank, he joined Wolf River Paper in Dayton, Ohio, a world class manufacturer and marketer of consumer paper products such as facial and bathroom tissues, paper towels and napkins, and other specialty products. As a rising star in Wolf River’s marketing division, he became product manager for disposable diapers in two years and senior product manager only a year later. By the end of his fifth year, he had doubled his starting...