We often write about the importance of communicating with corporate executives in business talk or corporatese the language that they use to manage their corporations. But it's just as important for these large organizations to have a CEO or managing director who understands what global means.
After talking with top headhunters, directors, and investors, Fortune Magazine developed the profile for the star business leader of tomorrow. This dream CEO will have four characteristics: 1) "Understand global business in their bones"; 2) "change strategies and business models more than before"; 3) "skillfully manage relationships with governments"; and 4) "identify and manage risks before they become disasters."
Under the global business attribute, Fortune wrote that, "Everybody talks a good global game. Only a few (A-B InBev's (BUD) Carlos Brito, for one) are true citizens of the world." We would also nominate Carlos Ghosn of Renault (and Nissan), and Sergio Marchionne of Fiat (and Chrysler) to that list of CEO citizens of the world as they each manage corporations headquartered on two continents with worldwide workforces and distribution networks.
It isn't just the CEO who needs that global DNA. We've long written that any company would benefit from having a chief globalization officer to oversee the many horizontal functions affected by worldwide operations, but few organizations have taken that step (see "Chief Globalization Officer," Jan07). In fact, Fortune's follow-up article to the Dream CEO lists the need for seven new corporate chiefs: innovation, cloud, risk, privacy, social media, talent, and perception. Chief Perception Officer? Really? Unfortunately, a chief globalization officer isn't among that new cadre of people with keys to the executive washroom.
If you're like most people, you're not in line for the CEO slot at your company. What can you do to help your chief executive get smarter about meeting the needs of your global customers? The Common Sense Advisory Colloquium at the recent Localization World in Barcelona sent delegates home with five killer arguments on how to convince your executive team of the value of localization and translation. And our upcoming report on selling your globalization strategy to those who matter most in the corner office will become required reading for everyone on your localization team. As we recommended in Business without Borders, globalization needs a champion who will be the global internet strategist, the producer, and the expectation setter. Until more CEOs wise up to the world, localization managers and directors will continue to do their best to carry out this critical role.