Vodafone CEO on global leadership

An excerpt from an interview with Arun Sarin, CEO of UK-based Vodafone Group — the world’s largest cellular operator — conducted by Chief Executive magazine:

How much of your business is international?

Less than 5% of our operating profits comes from the UK. We’ve had to fundamentally redesign this company as a global company. … We are a highly consumer-centric company. In Germany, we feel German. In Italy, we feel Italian. In Spain, we feel Spanish. In India, we feel Indian.

You operate in 30 countries. How does your leadership team reflect that global culture?

My top 10 executives represent five nationalities. … At GE, all of Jeff Immelt’s direct reports are American; at Siemens, all but one are German. … We are a very international company and therefore we need an international group of executives.

Can you give an example?

Americans want to land on a decision more quickly than Europeans, who usually want more debate before signing on. … The challenge of running an international team is understanding the balance and complexion of the team and how that impacts the way members bond, work, take decisions, and follow through.

Here is the complete interview.

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Author: John Yunker

John co-founded Byte Level Research in 2000 and is author of The Web Globalization Report Card. He also co-founder of Ashland Creek Press.