Heart of the Matter

Andy Chan's Blog for Parents, Mentors and Teachers

Lunch with A.G. Lafley

A.G. Lafley and Andy Chan

A.G. Lafley speaks while Andy Chan listens.

It’s not often that a former C-suite executive describes his educational and career path as “a bit of A.D.D.”

But that’s exactly how former chairman, president and CEO of Procter & Gamble A.G. Lafley kicked off his luncheon address at Rethinking Success.

Lafley considered majoring in math, English literature, French and, ultimately, history as a student at Hamilton College, where he currently serves as the president of its Board of Trustees. His career path included studying Hebrew in the Navy, being stationed in Japan, and serving in the Vietnam War before he eventually settled down in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he would work for P&G for 33 years.

Having served on the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, Lafley said that while much has been made about jobs in today’s society, the real emphasis – from policymakers and educators – should be on competitiveness. He said that talent, innovation and productivity are three factors that drive competitiveness. Talent, he said, is the root of the latter two, “so it’s all about talent.”

Lafley is a big believer in networking and early identification. He reminded the audience that no one waited three years to discover a University of Kentucky basketball center named Anthony Davis. He likened the identification of athletic caliber to the way some recruiters, much to his approval, scout prospective hires from the early days of their college experience.

For the students in the room, he cautioned them not to rely too heavily on the Office of Personal and Career Development.

“You have to go out and get it yourself,” he advised. “This world is a networked world. The positive is that it’s much more open. The negative is you’ve got to cut through a lot more clutter. The challenge is you’re going to have to tell your story and make your case.”

Lafley often reflected upon the motto of Hamilton College, which is “know thyself” and its relevance to each person’s journey through life, from classroom to career.

“The great thing about the liberal arts is that you have a fair amount of time to get to know yourself, which I believe is a lifetime,” he said. “It doesn’t end until you end.”

For more information about A.G. Lafley’s perspective on how a liberal education equals career preparedness, read his recent guest column in the Huffington Post.

— Guest post by Katie Neal (’03),
Wake Forest Communication and External Relations,
from the “Rethinking Success” conference

Category: Higher Education, Rethinking Success