Who says innovation is a young man’s game? Just because you are a seasoned professional does not mean you can implement new and forward-thinking policies to promote your industry’s brand and success. Take a look at these Chief Executive Officers who are reinventing their industries and redefining what leadership entails. A selection of the Most Innovative CEO’s Over 40:
Alan Mulally is the CEO of the Ford Motor Company. Mulally’s
first contribution to one of the largest industries in the world was to prove that someone from outside the automobile industry could run a car company better than those who had worked in it for decades. Even industry rivals GM followed suit by bringing in an industry outsider to rekindle its brand (Daniel Akerson is now the former Chairman and CEO of General Motors). Mulally’s greatest accomplishment was likely the fact that Ford managed to avoid the eventual bankruptcy of the rest of the American car industry. He did this by operating like an investment banker rather than an automobile executive. Mulally increased Ford’s borrowing capacity to $23 billion just before the huge downturn in the global economy. His actions were unprecedented, as he essentially pledged all of Ford’s assets for access to this capital. Mulally then took the unusual step of pressing the American government to support his two primary competitors, GM and Chrysler. He did this because he understood that if either rival failed, Ford’s access to parts would be severely marred. Mulally’s innovative qualities have also influenced his company’s engineers. He has challenged them to view the car engine from a different perspective. As a consequence, Ford’s engineers have created a new technology which could give a four cylinder engine the power of seen in a six cylinder engine. This could be done without hybrid technology or diesel. The EconoBoost engine was born; since 2007 it has powered many of the company’s models.
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Gerald’s LinkedIn Rarely is the hotel industry seen as an industry leading the way in innovation; Gerald Lawless, however, is breaking this mold. Lawless is the Executive Chairman of the Jumeirah Group, the Dubai-based international luxury hotel chain. He leads the firm’s ambition to become the most distinctive and innovative hospitality group in the world. This ambition is expressed by the brand slogan, “Jumeirah – STAY DIFFERENT.” One of the ways Lawless has transformed the industry is through policies to enhance the guest experience. Lawless promotes the idea that guests have a wide range of interests and come from all over the world. Because of this, the organization aims to connect guests to the creative communities they may not have been aware of. The Jumeirah Group supports creative communities in ways that enhance the guest experience, while creating new opportunities for local artists and entertainers. This provides a bridge for ideas and people within the hotel environment. Lawless drives his hotels to become magnets for culture, where exciting art, elegant design, luxury service, and the exchange of interesting ideas can all mix.
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Elie’s LinkedIn Elie Khouri, who possesses dual Lebanese/French nationality, is the Chief Executive of Omnicom Media Group MENA. He entered the media industry through a creative background, and it is this background that he has continued to employ to spur development and overtake the established players in the Arab media landscape. One of innovative practices brought forth by Khouri is the creation of the OMD Academy. In a geographic environment with an industry-wide talent shortage, Khouri sees human resources management and educational training as vital assets for the continued growth and profitability of his organization. This drove the development of the OMD Academy, the first media training school in the Gulf States. Through its mixed curriculum of training sessions, ad-hoc seminars, network-wide conferences, and master classes for media creativity and marketing, the Omnicom Media Group is developing a new generation of industry stars.
Innovation can take many forms and functions. It can promote business products, how an organization interacts with the public, and how it develops future employees. No matter the design or method, innovation should be a component of healthy business growth and successful executive leadership.
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