A Day in the Life of Alex Sander

Topics: Feedback, Product management, Product manager Pages: 21 (4781 words) Published: August 17, 2009

A Day in the Life of Alex Sander: Driving in the Fast Lane at Landon Care Products 5:25 A.M.

Sweat dripped onto the handlebars of Alex Sander’s StairMaster. Sander was half an hour into a cardiovascular workout, while carrying on a conversation in the fitness center of the downtown condominium complex with a neighbor who was climbing steadily on his own StairMaster. At 32, Alex was the newest, and youngest, product manager in the Toiletries Division of Landon Care Products, Inc., a cosmetics products company headquartered in Connecticut. In just over one year with Landon, Alex had successfully rebranded two national skin care products. In January 2007, Landon had been acquired by Avant-Garde, a multibillion-dollar European beauty company. Alex: I’m getting my first 360° performance review today from my boss, Sam Glass. But I don’t have the time to waste on this exercise. I need every second to focus on my new Nourish product launch, the most challenging marketing assignment I’ve had so far. Avant-Garde sees Landon as their ticket to market share in the United States. But everyone in Landon’s Marketing Department is being 360’d this month, since the vice president of Avant-Garde’s Consumer Products Division started pushing for them. Neighbor: I’ve heard of 360’s, but the biotechnology firm where I work sticks to a traditional review system. How do they actually play out?



Alex: It’s basically a feedback tool. You get input from supervisors, peers, direct reports, even customers—that’s why it’s called a 360°. Feedback from everybody, not just your boss. I’d bet you my last dollar I know exactly what Sam will tell me. I’ll hear the jazz about my style and my temper—360’s should be anonymous, but I know who Sam asked for input about me. I have no excuses—Sam hired me to shake up the product team and launch products quickly. On my first day, he said he knew I’d make waves and that was OK with him.



Professor Larry E. Greiner, University of Southern California, and Elizabeth Collins 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 © 2008 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.

This document is authorized for use only by shalini srivastava until August 2010. Copying or posting is an infringement of copyright. Permissions@hbsp.harvard.edu or 617.783.7860.


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APRIL 11, 2008

2177 | A Day in the Life of Alex Sander: Driving in the Fast Lane at Landon Care Products

Neighbor: So what IS your style at work?

Alex: If I trust someone to get something done, I’ll just check in and say, “How’s it coming— can I help?” But if someone isn’t happy with the assignment I’ve given him, or I sense that he’s not sure of himself, then I’ll push him to find out what he’s thinking.

I came to Landon not knowing anything about packaging, manufacturing, or sales promotion. I had to plunge in and make a lot of snap decisions in these areas. Looking back, I can see one poor strategy decision, but on the whole my judgment has...
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