On Nov. 20, Patrick Mulcahy, Chairman of the Board of Energizer Holdings, shared stories from his career with students, friends and community members at the George Herbert Walker School of Business & Technology Speaker Series. His presentation, “14 Lessons on Leadership” highlighted business rules he has learned throughout his career.
Benjamin Akande, dean of the Walker School, opened the event by sharing a few words about Mulcahy. “In his more than 40 years in business, our speaker has found redemption in the honest work of cultivating ideas,” he said.
Mulcahy began his professional career as a product manager trainee at Ralston Purina, and over the years, he held various positions in marketing and new products. When Purina acquired Eveready Battery Company in 1986, he became Chairman and CEO. During his tenure as chief executive, he presided over key initiatives that helped launch groundbreaking innovations – lithium batteries and led bulbs; the marketing campaign for the creation of the Energizer Bunny; and the company’s eventual spin-off to Energizer.
“Pat is a rare leader because he possesses two seemingly impossible attributes that are attributed to greatness: the ability to transform and serve the organization,” Akande said. “He is a pioneer of multi-billion dollar companies, and yet he will be the first to admit that his success has come from personal sacrifices, a willingness to collaborate with others, and the acknowledgement of their contributions. If there is one defining attribute of Pat Mulcahy, it is that humility is his constant companion.”
Mulcahy’s presentation included stories from his career – from the early days working on the Puppy Chow business at Purina, to his stint in operations and his work with acquisitions. In reflecting on his past, he said his goal as a young man was to have a job that would enable him to own a house, buy a car and put his kids through college. “I have been blessed with jobs that I have enjoyed, and I’ve been able to work with people I’ve liked and people who have liked me,” he said.
Mulcahy reminded the young people in the audience that they have their entire careers ahead of them. “You can be whomever you dream to be,” he said. “Your career is not a sprint; I encourage you to find ways to keep your mind busy and stay active.”
Some of the other nuggets of wisdom shared by Mulcahy include:
- When changing jobs, bet on people; you have to like the people you are working with.
- Consider the reversibility of a decision before making it, and if you make a bad decision, reverse quickly.
- Clear your desk; focus on the big stuff.
- Live one day at a time; you have to be opportunistic.
- Have fun and keep a sense of humor.
- Disasters are wonderful; you can learn more from your mistakes than from your successes.