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RAM CHARAN

Ram Charan is a very famous business advisor and speaker who has worked with many important companies such as Verizon, Dupont, KLM, Bank of America, etc.

Dr. Charan grew up in a little town in India where he worked in the family shoe shop. Then he earned an engineering degree and flew to Australia and Hawaii. Those were his first steps into business. When his talent for business was discovered, he decided to go on with it. He earned MBA and doctorate degrees from Harvard Business School. After that, he served on the Harvard Business School faculty.

Dr. Charan is famous for giving practical business advice very useful for the difficulty of the business world. He tries to achieve profitable growth and provides practical ways to improve their group dynamics.

As a result of his business success, he has won many awards like the Bell Ringer award at GE's famous Crotonville Institute and best teacher award at Northwestern. He was also among BusinessWeek's top ten resources for in-house executive development programs.

Dr. Charan has written many successful books and articles. These include the bestseller Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done and Confronting Reality, both co-authored with Larry Bossidy, What the CEO Wants You to Know, Boards at Work, Every Business Is a Growth Business, Profitable Growth, and Boards That Deliver. Dr. Charan often contributes to Fortune and he also has written articles which have been published in the Financial Times, Harvard Business Review, Director's Monthly, and Strategy and Business.

HOW THE CEO OF DuPONT REACTED TO THE CURRENT ECONOMIC CRISIS?

DuPont CEO Chad Holliday was informed by a major Japanese customer that the cash position of the company was worrying. Immediately Hollyday summoned the six top leaders to know the exact situation and the reality about the problem. The answers were not promising. Credit was disappearing, leaving companies struggling to finance their operations.

The effects of the financial crisis were appearing in the company´s results and it was time to take action.

DuPont has always been well-prepared and it had a plan called “the Corporate Crisis plan” that would instantly bring together DuPont’s senior managers to put appropriate disaster-control procedures in place. Hollyday had to make a decision whether to activate the Corporate Crisis plan or not, as it might frighten the company´s employees. He decided that the Corporate Crisis plan was necessary.

The plan brought the 17 standing teams of the company. It was time to make the employees know about the crisis. Hollyday enlisted the company’s chief economist and the head of its pension fund to explain to the employees in a nontechnical-language the crisis and how it was affecting to the company. Each employee was asked to identify three things in which he could improve and help to conserve cash and reduce costs.

In general, the employees seemed to have understood it. They knew but they had to do but, maybe for an excess of confidence coming from the company, they didn´t realize that the measures had to be quicker. Hollyday spent an hour and a half with each of the 14 top leaders to make them understand the importance of being quick.

As there are decisions difficult to make, such as which production facilities could be closed permanently or shuttered temporarily to reduce costs, DuPont created a three-person team for longer-term decisions.

DuPont’s initial reaction to the spreading economic crisis took place in less than six weeks. DuPont, and specially Chad Hollyday, showed the way to avoid the problems with a well-prepared plan and a good team. It is an example for being a leader in the era of economic uncertainty.

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