CEO at Smith!



The start of the second year at school brings along new first years around the caserooms, new courses, new experiences and opportunities to explore and also new CEOs at Smith. CEO at Smith is a very unique event hosted by the Dean’s Office at Smith where legendary leaders speak about their stories and experiences.

Mr. Kees Kruythff, President of Unilever North America was the first leader this year to address Smith Terps. Unilever has been the most aspirational company for me since I started my marketing career. It is not the products and ads that astute inspire me but the fact that this company impact making lives of billions of customers across the world better every day.

Mr. Kees started the conversation by introducing his 5 global daughters and the notion of work life balance. He said, “people with purpose thrive longer and so it is very important to bring your FULL self to work” and when the place you are working at gives you this platform, you naturally become more efficient and are able to achieve great feats at work.

Mr. Kees also mentioned that the only thing that is constant in the business world is that the world always needs more courageous leaders and thus it is very important to build leadership principles in your own life owning them day to day.

Mr. Kees went ahead to establish 3 notions, he believes, make YOU a distinctive leader-

  1. The notion of personal development- Continuous ability to be curious, questioning the status quo and thus developing an accelerated learning curve for oneself helps one build an agile mindset and assists in thinking outside the box.
  2. The notion of making a difference- The ability to move away from having just a bird eye view and actually grill deep in to the weeds to understand the root cause of the community as a whole and thus developing a problem solving mind set gives an individual a bigger conviction to look forward in life.
  3. The notion of having fun- A happy heart will lead to a happy mind and happy minds are always more effective. A passionate individual would always be able to drive individual purpose to collective purpose.

When we have developed an understanding and awareness of our own capabilities and strengths and are using them to drive the organization forward, the organization would have more exponential gains.

The talk eventually moved towards Unilever’s brand and products, Mr. Kees spoke a lot about synergy creation in their product portfolio and the move towards driving better customer lives through sustainability.

My key take away from the talk was the importance of volume growth for a brand and how it is the most scientific assessment of the impact reach. It is this emphasis that makes Unilever unique in influencing the lives of two and half billion people worldwide. Augmenting the ‘why’ in this thought will assist us in the understanding of product synergies and superior business models better.

Lastly, I would just like to add that it is only that school that we will get exposure to such leaders and Smith continues to bring in the best, ALWAYS.

-Bhrugi Badheka, 2nd year Full Time MBA


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