Managing a Global Enterprise: Andrea Jung, CEO of Avon | Summary and Q&A

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November 17, 2009
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Stanford Graduate School of Business
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Managing a Global Enterprise: Andrea Jung, CEO of Avon

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Summary

In this video, Andrea Jung, the CEO of Avon, shares insights and personal stories about her career and leadership style. She talks about the importance of passion and loving the work you do, as well as the influence of her family and upbringing on her values. Jung also discusses the challenges she faces as a CEO and how she stays connected to her employees and the market. Additionally, she shares her experiences serving on the boards of GE and Apple and the lessons she has learned from these technology-based companies.

Questions & Answers

Q: How did Andrea Jung stay true to her passions and dreams despite societal expectations?

Andrea Jung explains that her parents had certain expectations for her career, but she decided to pursue her own path in the retail industry. Although her parents were initially hesitant, they taught her the value of hard work and perseverance. Jung learned the importance of not quitting and staying committed to whatever she chose to do.

Q: How did Andrea Jung balance her Chinese family values with the American corporate culture?

Andrea Jung shares that her parents were worried that her corporate role as a CEO would be in conflict with her Chinese family values. They feared that the cutthroat nature of the corporate world would undermine her kind and caring nature. However, Jung believes that she has not had to compromise her values and remain true to herself throughout her career. She believes that being kind, respectful, and caring are qualities that can coexist with success in the business world.

Q: How does Andrea Jung motivate the independent representatives at Avon?

Andrea Jung explains that Avon's sales representatives are not employees but independent representatives. Therefore, she cannot tell them what to do or how to operate their businesses. Instead, Jung believes in motivating and inspiring them through the company's mission, values, and purpose. Avon's focus on empowering women economically and providing opportunities for entrepreneurship resonates with the sales representatives and keeps them motivated.

Q: How does Andrea Jung combat the feeling of loneliness at the top as a CEO?

Andrea Jung acknowledges that being a CEO can be isolating and that the vertical structure of Avon can sometimes be insular. To combat this, she actively seeks an outside perspective by serving on the boards of GE and Apple. These experiences help her stay connected to the broader business world and challenge her own leadership style. Jung also emphasizes the importance of open communication and feedback with her top team to avoid isolation.

Q: How does Andrea Jung adjust her leadership style when working with technology-based companies like GE and Apple?

Andrea Jung acknowledges that GE and Apple are very different from Avon and have strong and influential leaders like Jeff Immelt and Steve Jobs. However, she believes that her experiences at Avon, especially in global and emerging markets, bring a unique perspective to these companies. Jung values the lessons she has learned about processes, globalization, and talent management at GE. She also finds inspiration from Apple's focus on excellence and attention to detail regarding product and user experience.

Q: How does Andrea Jung reinvent herself as a CEO?

Andrea Jung shares a personal story about hitting a wall in her career and how she reinvented herself as a turnaround CEO. She realized that she needed to approach the company as if she were a newly hired CEO, with a fresh perspective. By being open to reinvention and making tough decisions, Jung was able to turn things around for the company and overcome challenges. She emphasizes the importance of self-reflection and being willing to change and adapt as a leader.

Takeaways

Andrea Jung's key takeaway is the importance of having a deep passion for the work you do. She encourages individuals to follow their compass, not their clock, and make decisions based on their heart, rather than societal expectations or the pursuit of titles and achievements. Jung also highlights the value of family and cultural values in shaping her leadership style and staying true to herself. Furthermore, she emphasizes the significance of innovation and the continuous search for new ideas and solutions in the business world. Finally, Jung believes that the glass ceiling is slowly being shattered, and more opportunities for women in leadership roles are emerging.

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