Little-known Facts about Well-known Leaders – Meg Whitman

Everyone knows the most recent headlines about our country’s greatest leaders. In this feature, we’d like to shed some light on the lesser-known facts about these folks in hopes of giving you a little greater insight as to what makes them tick.

Meg Whitman

I’ve been following the career of this charismatic leader for quite some time now. If you’re looking for a role model for your children or grandchildren, look no further. Share the details of her past and simply focus your attention to your newspaper, magazine, television or the internet to see what she’s mastering at the moment. Her bio reads like a fairy tale, and just when you think her career has peaked, she takes it to another level. Today’s average business leader, if there is such a thing, would be pleased as punch to boast of just one of her previous accomplishments. Wait until you see the entire list and you’ll see what I mean.

Why all the success? What drives this woman to unparalleled success at a time when your daily newscast reveals another leader thrown to the curb or even on his/her way to prison? Listen to her employees, associates, and competitors, and it quickly becomes blatantly obvious. Education, experience, worth ethic, focus, integrity, unlimited passion, creativity, keen judgment, listening skills, the ability to earn respect, a pioneer mindset, a respect and belief in customer feedback and the expertise to create, encourage and support community. The list goes on, but I’m sure you see why she continues to excel in everything she undertakes.

Margaret C. “Meg” Whitman has been the President and CEO of the online marketplace we know as eBay since 1998. Whitman joined eBay when the company had 29 employees and operated solely in the United States; eBay is now a global organization with over 11,600 employees.

She led the company from a few customers to nearly 50 million … revenue jumped from a few dollars to nearly $6 billion.

In addition to managing eBay, she currently serves on the Board of Directors of Procter & Gamble and Dream Works Animation. According to Forbes magazine, Whitman is currently worth an estimated $1.3 billion. She is one of only seven women to have been repeatedly ranked among the world’s most influential people by Time Magazine.

Now let’s take a look at her incomparable track record. Buckle your seatbelt … here we go.

She attended Princeton University as an undergraduate with every intention of securing a career in medicine. However, she became an economics major after a summer job selling advertising for a campus publication … obviously a major turning point. She went on to receive an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Whitman began her working career at Procter & Gamble from 1979 to 1981. It was at Procter & Gamble that she built her experience in brand management. She then spent eight years working for Bain & Company, a leading global business and strategy consulting firm, eventually becoming a vice president.

From 1989 to 1992, Whitman worked at the Walt Disney Company, where she served as the Senior Vice President of Marketing for the Disney Consumer Products Division.

From 1992 to 1995, she served as President of the Stride Rite Corporation’s Children’s Division where she was responsible for the launch of the highly successful Munchkin baby shoe line and the repositioning of the Stride Rite brand and retail stores. She has also held the positions of executive vice president for the Keds Division and corporate vice president of strategic planning.

From 1995 to 1997, Whitman was President and CEO of FTD (Florists Transworld Delivery), the world’s largest floral products company. While at FTD, she oversaw its transition from a florist-owned association to a for-profit, privately owned company.

She then left to become the general manager of Hasbro Inc.’s Preschool Division, responsible for global management and marketing of two of the world’s best-known children’s brands, Playskool and Mr. Potato Head. During her tenure, Meg oversaw the reorganization of the Preschool Division and its resulting return to profitability.

As you can plainly see, as the corporate prodigy made her way through a series of posts at blue-chip companies, she certainly left her mark in a most positive way.

In 2005, she was interviewed by Disney’s board of directors to succeed Michael Eisner as CEO, but dropped out a week later, prompting the board to give the job to Robert Iger.

She then joined eBay and has been growing the organization at a fever pitch. I have a strange feeling she is far from slowing down.

Whitman is a multi-billionaire and one of the richest female CEOs in the world.

Whitman donated a significant sum of money to her alma mater, Princeton University, said to have totaled more than $30 million, which has allowed the construction of the university’s sixth residential college, Whitman College, opening this year.

She is married to Griffith R. Harsh IV, a neurosurgeon.

It might be interesting to keep your eye on this dynamic leader in the future. I’m certain her career and continuous success is far from finished.

About Harry K. Jones

Harry K. Jones is a motivational speaker and consultant for AchieveMax®, Inc., a company of professional speakers who provide custom-designed seminars, keynote presentations, and consulting services. Harry's top requested topics include change management, customer service, creativity, employee retention, goal setting, leadership, stress management, teamwork, and time management. For more information on Harry's presentations, please call 800-886-2629 or fill out our contact form.

4 thoughts on “Little-known Facts about Well-known Leaders – Meg Whitman

  1. This was SO helpful and interesting! It’s noce to hear about someone who displays leadership ability and has that ability attributed to true ingenuity and integrity.

  2. “If you’re looking for a role model for your children or grandchildren, look no further.”

    Whitman may have made a lot of money but as a role model I consider her a zero. SHE VOTED FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HER LIFE IN 2002. What a great model of civic responsibility – now she running for Governor of California, urging people to register to vote. She’s a rich hypocrite.

  3. I don’t know who to address this to as you chose, for some reason, NOT to identify yourself. We encourage everyone to share their opinions and therefore published your comments. In writing about leaders and leading organizations we choose to focus on the positive as there are far too many people who seem to specialize in the negative. Meg Whitman is an accomplished business leader who has established her leadership ability time and again for some of the most successful organizations in the nation. She was instrumental in breaking the glass ceiling providing opportunities for women in every field. Is she a hypocrite when it comes to her voting record or was she open minded enough to display a change of heart and mind? We will continue to report information that can and will assist people in their quest for growth and avoid data which can’t be verifed or adds no value. And I will continue to sign my name to my opinions rather than hiding behind a cute nickname. Thanks so much for your input.

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