Just how ubiquitous are P&G-trained marketers? "They're
everywhere," said former Global Marketing Officer Jim Stengel, who
had just spoken to an audience packed with them to promote his book
"Grow" in Mexico City and was on his way to launch it in China,
where he expected another gaggle of P&Gers to help form much of
the market base there.
Islands of P&Gers are found in unexpected corners of
marketing. For example, the chief marketers of the Tampa Bay Devil
Rays baseball team (Darcy Raymond) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers
football team (Jason Dial) are both P&G alums, but were unaware
of this until a reporter brought up the coincidence earlier this
Elsewhere in town, another P&G alum, Anne Martin-Vachon, is
chief marketing officer of Tampa Bay area's major national media
player -- HSN. CEOs of two other area media players -- Catalina
(Jamie Egasti) and Triad Retail Services (Greg Murtagh) -- are also
Increasingly, Proctoids, as they've been known by some, are
staffing P&G's competition. CEOs of six major P&G
competitors started, and in some cases spent, the majority of their
careers there. And unfortunately for P&G, perhaps, some of its
most successful CEO progeny work in its own industry, including two
people with the fastest-growing top lines in the competitive set:
Estee Lauder CEO Fabrizio Freda and Unilever CEO Paul Polman. And
for years, P&G was dogged in household care by another
successful alum, Bart Becht, who as chairman-CEO of Reckitt
Benkiser outperformed P&G on the top line for most of the prior
While its famed alumni are in many ways flattering to P&G,
Deutsche Bank analyst Bill Schmitz noted that their career path
raises questions about whether P&G has kept its best
executives. He singled out Mr. Freda, in particular, who he said
wasn't seen as a star at P&G but has produced consistently
stellar results at Estee Lauder.
The loss of many top managers to thriving competitors is a
consistent complaint among P&G alums, who've seen their stock
and options languish in a relatively tight trading range over the
past five years.
If losing people to a competitor makes the competition better,
"it makes us have to push all the harder," said P&G Global
Brand-Building Officer Marc Pritchard. "You're always going to have
some who leave who you regret. But it's a really competitive
system. Some people make it and some people don't. By and large, it
works out the way it should."
Regardless, you could practically populate a marketing-industry
association just using P&G alums.
A LinkedIn search finds 100 current CMOs of other companies who
started their careers at P&G -- a number greater than Nestle,
Unilever and Kraft
Foods combined. In all, more than 5,200 former P&Gers are now
listed as having marketing duties elsewhere today on LinkedIn,
though that remains less than the 7,000 people in marketing, market
research, design and PR in P&G's Global Brand-Building
P&G is well behind the likes of IBM, General Electric and
producing alums with CEO titles on LinkedIn, with those companies
having heavily stocked talent in a burgeoning number of small tech
companies, but it handily beats any other player in its
Doesn't training all those marketers for other people take a
toll on P&G?
"The time you invest, you do lose that ," Mr. Pritchard said.
"Sometimes it's candidly the right thing for them to go. That's
just normal course of business. And even those who go because it
wasn't working out for them, and those who go who we wish hadn't
left, part of our culture is so strong it's kind of like once
you're a P&Ger, you're always a P&Ger, and we just have an
affinity with those folks. It's a good benefit, too."
The ubiquity of P&G-trained marketers makes it easier for
the company to find partners in media, advertising agencies and for
joint ventures, Mr. Pritchard added.
Clorox Co., separated from P&G in a mid-1970s antitrust
settlement, has never had a CEO who didn't start his career at
P&G. And while the companies compete in many categories,
P&G is 20% owner and supplier of technology to Clorox's Glad
Perhaps more remarkable is how P&G influence turns up in
industries far from its sphere of competition. P&G alum Ed
Lonergan recently replaced fellow P&G alum Fernando Aguirre as
CEO of Chiquita.
In financial services, the CMOs of both Visa and MasterCard are
P&G alums. American Express isn't led by a P&G alum, but
CEO Kenneth Chenault sits on P&G's board.
Express recently partnered with Walmart to bring out Bluebird,
an alternative bank card for the unbanked, working with another
P&G alum, Eric Hansen, chief marketing officer of Walmart Financial
Services. They'll be posing a new challenge for Western Union,
where P&G alum Laston Charriez became senior VP-marketing
earlier this year.
So how does that P&G influence shape an industry or
marketing as a whole?
The salient feature of the P&Gers everywhere, said
MasterCard CMO Alfredo Gangotena, "is clearly the power of the left
brain -- analysis, logic, construction of the business
propositions. Because they're so strong on the left side, it allows
them to go to the right-brained side in a more daring way. It's
like, if you had a sailboat with a very powerful keel, so you can
put as much power in the sails as you want. If you go too strongly
on the creative side without the keel, you can flip."
The ubiquity of P&G-trained CEOs often helps spawn hires of
more P&G marketers throughout the organization. P&G and
Clorox alum Tarang Amin turned to Mr. Stengel for tips on a P&G
marketer who would be right for the job before hiring P&G alum
Jennifer Steeves-Kiss as CMO.
But not every P&G alum is looking to hire directly out of
P&G. Mr. Gangotena echoed the outlook of many executives and
recruiters that P&G is different enough from other companies
that the first stop of ex-P&Gers isn't always the best. There's
no doubt that "Procter plus " candidates are often more sought
after than Procter executives, said Heidrick & Struggles
recruiter Carlos Cata, himself a P&G alum.
Ex-P&Gers have "a mixed record," said Unilever CEO Paul
Polman in an email. He's the classic Procter-plus executive, having
become chief financial officer of Nestle, getting passed over for the
CEO post, then becoming CEO of Unilever. "In Unilever we are not
actively looking for P&G people," he said, "although there are
many on the market."
But Mr. Pritchard said P&G's influence on marketing also
goes well beyond exporting talent. "We're pretty proud of the
influence we have on marketing and brand building in general," he
said. "It's been part of our DNA, part of our history. My
observation has been, humbly, people do look to P&G and say
"How are you doing things?' They took great interest when we
started pushing digital hard, when we started pushing branded