Anatomy Of A Decision, Part 1: The C-Suite
GLG has produced a new series of videos focused on decision-making in the business world.
As part of the series, GLG, the world's leading membership network for professional learning, has interviewed a number of business leaders to ask about what considerations go into making important decisions.
In this installment, GLG speaks with former Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) CEO Jeff Kindler.
Kindler said a key ingredient in his meteoric rise was an open mind.
The Importance Of An Open Mind
“I started saying I should be open to whatever comes along,” Kindler said. “And that led me down all kinds of different paths I never would have predicted.”
Kindler joined Pfizer as the pharma giant’s general council, but he admits that he had always had ambitions to be CEO. Once he assumed the role, he was presented with an opportunity to work with former President Barack Obama on the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Kindler said many of the provisions being discussed at the time were politically polarizing but would have been universally bad for the pharmaceutical industry. Rather than fight the change, Kindler and a handful of other pharma CEO’s decided to take a more constructive approach.
“We formed a small group of five of us who were CEOs of different companies in pharmaceuticals with different interests and a different focus, and we decided that within the right boundaries, if we could achieve acceptable policy solutions, we would support the bill,” Kindler recalled.
“To this day, there are people who don’t like what we did, even within the pharmaceutical industry. But my view is I got attacked by both the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times editorial page, and I think when that happens you know you’re in the sweet spot.”
Kindler sees his participation in the process as a valuable lesson in the power of compromise. While the pharmaceutical industry made a number of financial sacrifices as part of the process, he and his colleagues were also able help shape the bill to maximize potential industry benefits.
Kindler said the success of Obamacare to this day depends on perspective. In terms of increasing health insurance coverage, the program was a complete success. In terms of fixing the underlying problems of rising healthcare costs, Kindler believes Obamacare hasn’t delivered.
He closed the interview by discussing one key regret he has about his time as CEO.
“I think I fell prey to something that’s in human nature, which is I didn’t block enough time for personal development. I think a lot of [people] that are Type A personalities end up in big jobs, and they’re so focused on both the fact that they have achieved that and the things that they need to do on it that they… just don’t pay attention enough to the things that are of long-term importance.”
Kindler said time management, prioritization and mentorship were three of the biggest challenges of such an important professional role.
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