The Costco Connection: Having risen
through the ranks at Xerox, what were you
able to bring to the position of CEO?
Anne Mulcahy: Having spent much time in
sales and customer-facing positions, I was able
to bring a grounding about customer focus
that is certainly very much a part of who I am.
I think the second piece of it that is important,
and certainly came with me, is building teams.
It’s all about building a great team and being
able to attract and retain the best people possible who can then represent the company on a
much more distributed basis.
Xerox has changed its focus
from stand-alone copiers to
office solutions and services.
(Ad campaign circa 1959)
It’s little surprise
that in 2008
the first woman
to be named
CEO of the Year
by a group
CEOs and peers.
CC: And what was your on-the-job training?
AM: [Laughs] Everything else. This is where identifying great people to be on your team is so important, because I had never had a direct job in finance
or product development or supply chain or a lot of
areas of business. I was learning on the job all the
time. I’m still learning on the job all of the time. If
you run a big, complex company, one of the things
you can never get confused about is that you aren’t
going to know it all. It is hugely important to know
what you don’t know and go get expertise and help
and acknowledge that you don’t know.
CC: The name Xerox is still synonymous with a
photocopy. What would you like the name to mean?
AM: I think today people would clearly think
about leadership in document technology, but
more and more they would think about our services and solutions. We very rarely just sell stand-alone technology to major enterprises. It’s usually
wrapped with software and workflow and people
services so that we’re really delivering more value
than the technology can by itself.
I think we’d also be known for innovative technology. We’ve had a very prolific period of time here
in terms of new technology and bringing best in
class to customers as it relates to cost and value, so I
think we’re a very ... long distance from where we
were at the beginning of the decade.
(please copy and collate)
HISTORICAL PHOTOS COURTESY XEROX CORPORATION
inventor of xerography
Chester Carlson, inventor of xerography,
is born in Seattle, February 8. The Haloid
Company is founded in Rochester, New
York, to manufacture and sell photographic paper, April 18.
Carlson receives U.S.
patent No. 2,297,691 on
October 6 for electrophotography, later called xerography. The
process uses electricity to transfer an
image to a piece of paper.
CC: You often mention the importance of talking
with people—both your employees and customers.
Why is that?
AM: I think people get lost in the complexity of whatever job they’re in, and they forget that those are the
two most important constituencies that really drive
the business. As it relates to customers, they define
the business. They’re the center of the universe. They’re
the ones we’re privileged to have a company to serve.
For me, the people aspect of it is hugely important,
because their “followership” is the core of being able
to move a company in a direction and to deliver performance. It’s all about whether or not your people
believe and they’re aligned with the goals.
CC: How do you get your employees to do that?
AM: I think it takes work. I don’t think it’s something that you can take for granted. Somebody once
asked me how you keep in touch with your people.
I said, “By keeping in touch with your people.”
You’ve got to go out and work it. You’ve got to be
able to communicate the story. You have to have the
dialogue with your people so that there’s a degree of
ownership. That they see how they fit into the story.
You have to then be credible … so that they can
actually have confidence that the alignment between
what you say and what you do is there.
I think that all takes work, but over time it builds
into a situation where people believe and have confidence. The power of what you can do in a big company when people truly believe and are aligned
around goals is pretty extraordinary.
CC: Of all the articles written about the things you
accomplished during the turnaround, is there anything you wish people knew that isn’t talked about?
AM: I think for all of us the turnaround seems
forever ago. Turnarounds aren’t easy, but they’re a lot
easier than transformations. I think
the piece that people at Xerox
feel the best about is
The first xerographic copier is introduced.
The Xerox 914 (above), the first automatic,
plain-paper office copier, is announced.