Article by Douglas A. Ready and M. Ellen Peebles, via MIT Sloan Management Review, Fall 2015.
Aspiring corporate leaders first learn to build and implement visions for their individual business units. But as they advance in their careers, executives also must learn how to lead with an enterprise perspective.
Anat Gabriel is managing director and chairman of Unilever Israel, a relatively small operation that sells the usual array of Unilever products but also has two categories of its own, a breakfast cereal called Telma and a line of snack foods that are unavailable anywhere else. She calls them “local jewels”; they account for about a third of the Israeli unit’s business.
Unilever, the world’s second-largest consumer goods company, operates in nearly 200 countries and owns brands including Dove soap and Lipton tea. It expects Unilever Israel to promote the company’s global brands, but the local unit is still expected to make its numbers, which means that Gabriel must also invest in the local products such as Telma cereal. Gabriel’s team doesn’t always understand the trade-offs she has to make – the decisions to support global brands inevitably take away from local initiatives. “To be successful,” she said, “I must work with my team to align our agenda locally in Israel with the broader Unilever enterprise agenda. I need to help my people see how the pieces of the puzzle fit together.”