Corrections or additions?
These stories by Kathleen McGinn Spring, Michele Alperin, and
David McDonough were prepared for the March 7, 2001 edition of U.S. 1
Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Different Leaders For Different Cultures
A high volume, low margin business needs to be intensely
focused on keeping costs down. A restaurant, for example, might
its salad bar so that high priced items are set in the middle,
too great a stretch for less ambitious restaurant patrons, and
greater profits. A life sciences business, on the other hand, needs
to think big and look toward the future. "We can’t save ourselves
to success," says Ben Dowell, vice president of the Center
for Leadership Development at Bristol-Myers Squibb.
Dowell, who spent much of the early part of his career working for
Pepsico, understands both types of business focus. And he knows that
each calls for a different kind of leader. He also knows that the
nature of a company’s product is not the only variable in determining
whether a certain individual will flourish in a leadership role there.
"In some companies, getting results is all that matters,"
Dowell says. In others — and he says his is such a company —
that attitude is a negative. "We want results," says Dowell,
"but getting results at any cost is not tolerated at Bristol-Myers
On Thursday, March 8, at 8:30 a.m. Dowell speaks on "Leaders
Leaders: Navigating Rough Waters" at the Princeton Chamber of
Commerce’s leadership seminar at the Nassau Club. Cost: $50. Call
Dowell holds a psychology degree from the University of Texas and
a PhD in industrial psychology from the University of Minnesota. He
joined Squibb a little over 12 years ago, just before it merged with
Bristol-Myers. He has been head of the Center for Leadership
for five years. Before joining Squibb he worked in a number of
development and human resources roles for Pepsico and its
at one point spending 90 percent of his time traveling around the
world. "You see exotic places, but after a while, you just want
to be home," he says of that life. Now he lives in Lawrenceville
with his wife, Viki. Their daughter was married recently.
Leadership development centers like that at Bristol-Myers, which has
a staff of 18, are unusual in corporate America, Dowell says. And
while his company devotes a lot of resources to nurturing leaders,
he says the most important elements of the job are within the reach
of every business. The basics include:
to discuss "the peer from Hell." At some point or other every
company has one — at least one. Dowell admits to hiring this
himself. And the problem nearly 100 percent of the time, he says,
does lie in the hiring. When he let a wildly unsuitable candidate
in the door, it was because he was so taken by the individual’s skill
that he neglected to look into the culture in which the person had
been working. "And he came from a pharmaceutical too," Dowell
says. The difference was that the candidate had been used to an
where "you were told what to do and you did it." Thus trained,
this particular "peer from Hell," failed to adapt to an
where initiative and personal judgment were valued.
says Dowell. If the company finds it is missing a slice of the human
spectrum, he says, "we get it." Illustrating why he thinks
a diverse company covers every leadership base, Dowell talks about
a neighborhood birthday party he attended last week. "We were
playing a game — unscrambling words, matching faces and
For each task, there was one person who made the greatest
but no one made the most valuable contribution to more than one task.
money," Dowell says. "If you want a leader, ask him to lead,
and then give feedback and coaching." It’s the bicycle principle,
he says. All the workshops and classroom instruction in the world
won’t produce a great bicyclist, or even an adequate bicyclist. It’s
essential to get on a bike. And fall off. And try again. The same
thing goes for leadership. "You won’t be CEO of a $20 billion
corporation the first day," he says. "It’s a gradual
At Bristol-Myers, performance partnerships have largely replaced
Dowell says. The goal has shifted from evaluating past performance
to encouraging strong future performance. Supervisors are to give
their charges feedback every single day, recognizing positive
and pointing out areas for improvement.
a picture of where you’re trying to take things," Dowell says.
And that’s true whether the priority is to cut down on peeled shrimp
consumption at the salad bar or to be the first to find a cure for
— Kathleen McGinn Spring
Mexico, our next-door neighbor and NAFTA partner, serves
New Jersey businesses as both an export market and a production site.
To establish a foreign presence, a company usually begins by finding
an agent, then acquires a warehouse, moves on to contract
with a local firm, and finally builds its own plant. This process
takes three to four years with most countries, giving a business time
to feel its way. But in Mexico things move much faster. Businesses
quickly become aware of the advantages of doing business with Mexico
and move quickly.
Raul Gonzalez, deputy trade commissioner at the Trade Commission
of Mexico in New York, Beatrice Prati, partner at Feltman,
Major & Farbman, and Jonathan Plimpton of Church & Dwight speak
at International Business over Breakfast on Thursday, March 8, at
8 a.m. at Mercer County Community College’s Center for Global
Keld Hansen, the center’s director, will moderate the
Call 609-586-4800, ext. 3639 or E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The advantages Mexico offers to New Jersey businesses include a
location and significantly lower labor costs. "In Mexico, there
is such a dramatic difference in labor costs, it quickly makes
sense to establish your own plants," says Hansen. "You pay
less for a day’s work in Mexico than for an hour’s work here."
Another advantage is the absence of tariffs. The main purpose of the
1994 NAFTA agreement was to lower tariffs among the three signers:
Mexico, the United States, and Canada. Today Mexico is a partner in
10 free trade agreements covering 31 countries. Before these
came into force, manufacturers in Mexico had to figure an additional
20 to 30 percent in product costs for customs duties. With the
of tariffs, exporting and importing between signatories is far easier.
"Exports to Mexico from New Jersey, in dollars, have doubled since
1994," says Hansen.
To certify to the U.S. and Canadian governments that an export was
indeed produced in a NAFTA region, companies operating in Mexico must
obtain a certificate of origin from Mexico’s Ministry of the Economy.
For a product to be certified, a specified percentage of total product
costs, including labor and raw materials, must be incurred in Mexico.
The percentage varies by economic sector. When importing industrial
goods into Mexico from a country that is not a free trade partner,
a company pays customs duties for importing, but the Mexican
returns the import duties if the Mexican firm exports the product
to a free trade partner.
State governments in Mexico offer varying incentives for industrial
investment. In Guadalajara, in the Mexican state of Jalisco, which
is a center for the Mexican electronics industry, the state government
pays for training of electronics employees for a period of time. Some
states provide land for building a factory. Others offer access to
risk capital through development banks or tax incentives to help
new industrial plants.
Despite the advantages of establishing a presence in Mexico,
need to proceed carefully:
conditions is an important first step in deciding whether to import
or invest. Gonzalez says that Mexico is now in a very good place
"because we have had a democratic election, and the transition
team has done a good job with the economic area." He foresees
no economic problems and says that exports are growing. Talking about
the potential impact on Mexico of a slowing U.S. economy, he explains
that Mexico’s free trade agreements release it from dependence on
the United States. "We are exporting and taking advantage of free
trade agreements to diversify," says Gonzalez. "We are making
an effort not to be dependent on only one economy."
to ease the way through the procedures required by the Mexican
is a good idea, though Gonzales says the Mexican government is trying
to expedite the business processes.
concentrated . Once it decides to invest in Mexico, a business
locate a new plant in an existing industrial center in order to take
advantage of the existing network of suppliers and ensure that the
area has the necessary infrastructure for characteristic industrial
processes. For example, for the textile and apparel sector, there
must be sufficient water available for getting the dye into the
The states of Puebla and Tlaxcala offer plentiful water resources
as well as networks of suppliers.
about municipalities (www.inegi.gob.mx), business enterprises
the Economic Information Bank
the competitiveness of each state (www.itesm.mx), manufacturing
and foreign investment guidelines and industrial costs
at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. He has also studied
international finance, international negotiation, and economics. In
1989 he joined the Foreign Trade Bank of Mexico, where he worked as
assistant to the president of foreign trade promotion and helped
strategies to help Mexican exporters access different markets. He
was appointed deputy trade commissioner of Mexico in New York in 1998
and is currently responsible for attracting foreign investment into
Mexico as well as overseeing the textile and apparel, leather, and
pharmaceutical products sectors.
Once a business establishes itself in Mexico, as in any foreign
it will encounter cultural differences. Gonzalez tells of businesses
lunches where representatives of different companies may spend two
to three hours negotiating in a restaurant. But long lunches may be
a small price to pay to get a piece of New Jersey’s exports to Mexico,
which in 1999 totaled $913 million.
— Michele Alperin
The teleconference has become old-fashioned now that
the virtual conference is a reality. For the first time in its
the American Society for Public Administration is offering virtual
attendance to its three-day 62nd National Conference, beginning on
Saturday, March 10, at the Rutgers campus in Newark.
"For those who want the knowledge, but not the travel," the
conference brochure states, "the 25 best papers presented will
be available on-line, as well as highlights of the main conference
events and any-time participation 24 hours a day for a two-week period
during and after the conference."
The ability to tune in without traveling has its irony, for one of
the key sessions of the Conference will have as its subject
Policy and Administration in the New Century," moderated by
F. Plant, professor of Public Administration & Public Policy at
Penn State in Harrisburg.
"I’ll be kind of the swing man," says Plant. "Three people
are giving papers; I’m preparing a talk entitled `The big questions
of transportation policy’."
So what are those big questions? "One issue is that we are moving
from a focus in transportation on building capacity to more of a
orientation. Mobility is still the obvious performance criteria but
economic efficiency and contributions to rational land use have become
real considerations, rather than just counting up the number of roads
we build or rail lines or bridges we build. In that sense, things
are going well. Economists who tally up the aggregate costs of
as a cost item in the economy have said that costs are going down
a little bit."
Plant also identifies other areas of discussion for the conference:
leads to questions about competition, not just between modes of
but between different uses of the same mode, such as between truckers
and commuters. The whole `just in time delivery angle’ of American
industry has changed trucking quite a bit. Lots of times they’re
for space with commuters, because they have the same goal. It used
to be that the trucks could show up in the middle of the night and
get out of everyone’s way. Now trucks are our moving warehouses, which
has contributed to a lot of efficiency but has had secondary effects."
a railroad buff, but the railroads show an inability to change old
management practices, and they just don’t seem to be doing as well.
They had a great run in the early 1990s and everyone in the investment
world thought it would continue to be strong. But the break-up of
Conrail has led, at least in the east, to lower stock prices, and
in turn, less capital to do things.
"Really, truckers are the ones that can do everything now and
the railroads are going to be the specialists’ group; it’s the
of the 1940s when the railroads were the prime haulers. If you look
at the configuration of the railroad industry, it clearly hasn’t
out yet. Everyone thought for a long time that eventually there would
be two competitive national rail systems but then, after NAFTA, the
Canadian railroads became very active in North America. Canadian
has particularly become a big player, and Canadian Pacific is the
largest rail user of Philadelphia."
right now. Clearly, we’re not going to abandon the Northeast corridor.
If AMTRAK can’t make a go of it, someone else will. It’s very
to see success except for a few corridors in passenger service. I
don’t know why. It’s not for lack of use. There have been a few
stories. The new corridor service to Boston is quite successful. But
people don’t seem to use railroads for long-haul passenger service
the way they did in the ’30s and ’40s, what with airplanes and with
expansion, that’s another big area. If you look at improvement in
that area since 1960 in the United States, it’s pretty bad. We just
have not kept up. It raises issues of environment, land use, and
of life issues."
corridor? "One question would be, is there a market for toll
roads that would help pay for use in high growth areas? The issue
that has gotten the most attention in the last quarter century or
so is somehow trying to figure out how we can make the suburbs more
livable — what will lead to reduced traffic congestion and greater
highway safety. Every time you enhance capacity of transportation,
you accelerate the process of suburbanization."
at light rail as an alternative. We went from the late ’20s to the
early ’60s without building any significant urban rail system. Since
then, we’ve seen a resurrection of light rail. They are easy to build
efficiently, often on an existing right of way, and require much less
equipment than heavy rail systems. Pittsburgh hopes to fund a trial
rail using the magnetic levitation system."
States should be looking at? "A lot of people are looking more
at Europe, and the developed areas of the Far East to see what has
worked there that we could incorporate. The general affluence of
Europe, and their concern with making livable communities and small
distances has led to a lot of innovation. Germany has explored
bike and pedestrian paths in trying to make urban areas almost
Of course, it’s hard to see that working in Philadelphia…We ‘re
still stuck with the car."
some political changes. The last Federal surface transportation bill
(the 1998 Transportation Efficiency Act for the 21st Century) was
one of the great last true pork barrel bills, very heavily
directed by Pennsylvania congressman Bud Shuster, chairman of the
Transportation and Infrastructure committee." (The Almanac of
American Politics 2000 notes: "Members who went along with him
got $15 million in projects for their districts, more in the case
of committee members; those who didn’t go along got little or
Continues Plant: "You are going to see public policy focus on
how states can work with metropolitan planning organizations to bring
transportation more and more into environmental and land use type
of issues. I’m somewhat optimistic that we can move fairly rationally
towards seeing that transportation is a means, not an end within
But it’s not going to be easy. The arithmetic is simple: we’re not
building roads any more and yet every year we have far more cars
and significant increase in truck traffic. People commute longer
the population is increasing. Something has to give."
— David McDonough
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