Humanitarian efforts spur corporate growth, Procter & Gamble Co. Chief Executive Officer Robert McDonald said during a speech at the University of Utah.
"If you do good, that feeds your ability to do better financially," said McDonald. "It's a virtuous cycle. We believe that if we take this purpose of improving lives and we make it pervasive in everything we do then we will succeed as a company."
McDonald spoke to a group of students and faculty at the 21st annual Spencer Fox Eccles Convocation held at the U. on Wednesday.
After becoming CEO of P&G on July 2009, McDonald started a growth strategy centered on improving the lives of the company's consumers. The company, which manufactures consumer products from Tide laundry detergent to Braun razors, has grown nearly four percent year over year since McDonald took the helm.
McDonald told stories about how the company's humanitarian goals have helped grow P&G internationally. McDonald graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and graduated with a master's in business administration from the U. in 1978.
The Cincinnati-based conglomerate committed to "save one life every hour" through humanitarian efforts by the year 2020 at the Clinton Global Initiative in 2008, McDonald said. After the conference, 65 heads of state approached him to ask how they could get P&G in their countries.
"That's the power of improving lives," McDonald said.
The CEO also spoke about character in leadership and referenced some of his own successes and failures.
One of his first products, Solo Detergent, was made up of a failed mix of chemicals that resulted in an "ineffective product," McDonald said. He later went on to create liquid Tide after learning from his Solo mistakes, which is the "worlds largest selling liquid laundry detergent."
"The most confident and effective leaders I know are those who are more than willing to mention when they make a mistake," McDonald said. "Those are the kinds of leaders that we need in our world today."
McDonald shared five out of the 10 "core beliefs" the company stands by, including living a life generated by purpose and putting people in the right jobs.
The David Eccles School of Business has benefited from P&G's new facility in Bear River City since it was opened in April 2011.
"P&G is now our regular recruiter here on campus," Taylor Randall, dean of the David Eccles School of Business, said. "They will recruit both for local jobs and international jobs."
The annual convocation is to both launch the academic year at the business school and salutes Spencer F. Eccles for his service to the university.
Eccles, who received his bachelor's degree in Banking & Finance from the U, is an honorary chair of the school of business and serves on the school's Business Advisory Board. He helped establish a $15 million endowment for the business school with his aunt Emma Eccles Jones.
The endowment has funded 18 scholarships and 28 faculty scholars.
"[McDonald] is just a terrific leader," Eccles said. "That's all there is to it."
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