Academy of Management A.G. Lafley - Page 2 of 18
At P&G, delighting consumers and building brands is a team sport,and it’s a pleasure to accept this recognition on behalf of 135,000P&G’ers around the world. Their capability, creativity andcommitment are the true source of our success at P&G.
This recognition means a lot to me because it comes from scholars who are advancing the practice ofmanagement worldwide. Sustaining growth… creating value … transforming organizations and cultures… ishard work. Practitioners benefit enormously from those of you who study this work and advance thinkingabout what it takes to do the work well. Given the breadth, depth and quality of your scholarship, it’senormously gratifying to earn your recognition – and I thank you for the honor.I’m here today as a practitioner, but I didn’t begin my career with plans to be in business. Instead, I was setto become a history professor. In 1969, I was in the Ph.D. program at the University of Virginia studyingMedieval and Renaissance European history. When I drew a low number in the Vietnam War draft lottery, Idecided to join the Navy – where I had a unique experience.
I was in the Navy, but never spent a day at sea aboard ship.
I served in the Vietnam War but never spent a day on the ground in Vietnam – until I worked with theP&G team to open a subsidiary there 24 years later, in 1994.
I was in the military, but I never carried a gun.Still, if it weren’t for the Navy, I would never have ended up in business or at P&G. I started out in militaryintelligence, in Washington, DC. Then, when another officer suffered a heart attack, I was sent to run retailand service businesses at a big U.S. airbase in Japan, just outside Tokyo.
It was my first chance to run a business, and I loved it.
We operated grocery, department and specialty stores, and a wide range of services: barbershops, beautysalons, laundry and dry cleaning, gas stations, home kerosene delivery, restaurants, and packaged liquorstores. We also ran the military clubs – complete with gambling and slot machines and live entertainmentthat ranged from The Monkees to Frank Sinatra.Essentially – all the retail and service operations for a small town of about 10,000 Navy, Marine Corps, andtheir families.Customers were demanding. Service expectations were high. The work force was a mix of Japanese womenand men, the husbands and wives of service women and men, and government civil service managers.Competition was real – from nearby Army and Air Force exchanges and from low-cost Japaneseentertainment, service and shopping offerings in the Tokyo metro area.Profits were critical because they paid for all the other services on base – golf, tennis and swim clubs, moviehouses, bowling alleys, amusement arcades, and more.It was a great experience – a chance to learn about a lot of different businesses from the ground up in asmall $10 million-a-year business: my first general manager job, and I loved it!When I left the Navy, I went to Harvard Business School. Two years later, I accepted an offer from P&G --and more than 30 years later, I’m still there.