Anne Mulcahy spoke at the Iowa Memorial Union on the afternoon of Monday, April 23, 2012 as part of the Kloppenburg-Stead Leadership Lecture Series at the University of Iowa. Mulcahy is the current chair of the Board of Trustees for Save the Children and is a board director of Johnson & Johnson, Target Corporation, and The Washington Post Company.
She is perhaps most well known for the leading Xerox through one of more dramatic turnarounds in American corporate history as CEO of the firm from August of 2001 through June 2009. Mikhail Grachev of the Tippie College of Business helped steer the conversation with pre-selected questions from the Tippie first-year MBA class.
One key take-away from the talk was that there can be “no leadership without followership.” Among leadership challenges, Mulcahy spoke to changing perspectives both inside and outside the firm and moving a business from focusing on hardware to concentrating on services. A few ingredients of good leadership consist of authenticity, integrity, and the courage to take the right risks, according to Mulcahy.
Another word of advice from Anne Mulcahy to the crowd was to “leave the PowerPoint and corporate-speak at home” when you are trying to communicate strategy. The importance of bringing passion as well as loyalty to a job was discussed in some detail.
The talk closed with a few words on the leadership imperative of building a great team, the power of saying “I don’t know,” and thoughts on the significance of women in leadership roles. Anne Mulcahy also championed the importance of increasing access to education in the developing world, especially for young girls.