EIL 08: Fifty Years of Successful Leadership with Nestle, Past CEO and Chairman, Mr. Brabeck-Letmathe
Peter Brabeck, past CEO and Chairman of Nestle, discusses with Dr. Katrina Burrus the experiences and challenges to which he attributes his successful leadership journey.
- If you had to describe yourself in one minute, what would you say?
“I would say that I’m still a good ice cream salesman.”
- How does good salesmanship relate to leadership?
“You have to be convincing to other people to get them to do what you want them to do – and this alone demands leadership. It’s quite different from other things that you can achieve without depending on other people to do something for you. But a salesman always needs to be a leader. Otherwise, he will not be a good salesman.”
- What are the key attributes you learned early on in your leadership journey?
“I was very much influenced to be customer-driven and to find solutions for my customers. You have to be able to bring vision and values into reality. You need to create trust on the management side.”
- What do you think it takes to be a good CEO and a good Chairman?
“A CEO has to be more action-minded. He has to be a fantastic operator. He has to be like a general – able to motivate and control his troops for immediate action.”
Who is Peter Brabeck?
Peter Brabeck joined Nestlé in 1968 in Austria as a salesman, later becoming a specialist for new products. His career within the group included a span of almost ten years in Chile (1970–1980), first as National Sales Manager and later as Director of Marketing. In 1981, he was appointed Managing Director of Nestlé Ecuador, and in 1983, President and Managing Director of Nestlé Venezuela. In October 1987 he was transferred to Nestlé’s international headquarters in Vevey. As Senior Vice-President in charge of the Culinary Product Division, he had worldwide responsibility for that business area. On 1 January 1992, Brabeck-Letmathe was appointed Executive Vice-President of Nestlé S.A., with global responsibility for the Strategic Business Group encompassing food, chocolate and confectionery, ice cream, pet food, as well as industrial products (aromas). At the same time, he had worldwide responsibility for marketing, communications, and public affairs. In particular, during his time as Executive Vice-President, he conceived and implemented the unique branding policy of Nestlé, characterized by a strict hierarchy of strategic brands on the global, regional and local levels.
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