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Maxon Lecture Focuses on Global Leadership, Sustainability

From left to right: GW President Steven Knapp, Colgate-Palmolive CEO Ian Cook and GWSB Dean Doug Guthrie during the 12th annual Maxon Lecture.

Successful businesses understand that markets are global, and take local insights and culture into consideration while maintaining a unified message about the company, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Colgate-Palmolive Ian Cook told a packed audience Feb. 8 at GW’s Jack Morton Auditorium.

Cook, who spoke as part of GW School of Business’ Institute for Corporate Responsibility’s Twelfth Annual Robert P. Maxon Lecture, detailed the strategies that the consumer products company has used to succeed in a global marketplace.  Some of those steps included having a simple strategy, maintaining a tight focus on the company’s four product areas in oral care, personal care, pet care and home care and using the same message globally while taking local preferences into consideration.  For example, Colgate-Palmolive markets toothpaste with salt in India, where salt is often used as a remedy for bleeding gums.

Cook outlined the company’s focus on sustainability and ethical standards through programs such as the “Bright Smiles, Bright Futures” oral health program, which provides dental health programs for more than 500 million children in over 80 countries.  In the United States, this program includes in-school curriculum, mobile dental vans and community awareness events to reach children in underserved communities.

Cook, whose son Andrew received his BBA from GWSB in 2010, also advised students about the qualities that make good global leaders. This includes having lived and worked in other cultures and being “excellent communicators.”

“Get outside yourself, your country and your culture,” he told students.

The Maxon Lecture is named for GW alumnus Robert P. Maxon, B.A. ’48, who served his country in WWII and went on to hold several executive positions at Mobil, retiring as general manager of worldwide corporate public relations.  The annual lecture features prominent executives and academics making presentations on contemporary global management issues.  It is designed to add depth to the understanding of the next generation of global business leaders.  The event was established through Dorothy Maxon’s generous endowment gift to the School of Business in honor of her husband.

Posted by gwsb on February 9, 2011 | Filed under: GWSB News.


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