Novelis CEO on the 1st 100 Days

Adam Bryant’s Corner Office in the Sunday edition of the New York Times is always one of my favorite reads this week. Bryant sits down with some of the best and brightest minds in the business world and discusses leadership and management. Bryant’s October 2013 conversation with Phil Martens, chief executive of Novelis, is one of the best Bryant has conducted. “The First 100 Days” is a topic I am fascinated in. When taking over an organization, what is it you are trying to achieve in your first 100 days on the job? Martens shares some really good insight on this subject (“If you don’t decide where you’re going to go, the organization will decide for you and you will become part of whatever existed before you”).

I learned that you have to have stable decision-making criteria so that people look at you and say, “I know you’re going to look for the same things in this type of situation every time.” You have to learn how to be very consistent and transparent. You can’t sit down with one person and say, “We’ll make it this way for you because I like you,” and then make it another way for somebody else. Because those two people will talk and word gets out that you’re really not consistent. If you don’t have a compass for true north — and you don’t stick to that — people are going to come at you from many different angles to get you to do something.


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