Saturday, April 07, 2007

A minister's job as compared to a CEO: Part 1

The Minister's job is a lot like that of a CEO, the public face of the company. If anybody knows the name of just one employee of any given company he or she doesnt know personally, chances are, that person is the CEO. Besides an outstanding track record to bring credibility, the two most requirements of a good CEO ought to be

1) excellent communicator

The CEO being the public face of the company must project the right image. Mr Tan Kin Lian, former CEO of NTUC Income, may not look like the usual CEO, but yet his earnest image is likely to boost the image of the company for the everyman buying life insurance. OTOH, most people think Oracle's Larry Ellison is a corporate shark, but that is okay, because the people who can afford buy Oracle products wants to be corporate sharks themselves.

Beyond a two dimensional image, the CEO must connect with the customers. The CEO has a powerful PR budget to brainwash the customers with his lofty visions, but even then, sometimes, the customers may not bite. The CEO must connect to the masses to sense a change in tide. Just as Bill Gates sensed risk in not risking everything in 1995 to refocus on the internet, the CEO must know what is going on at the grassroots.

2) excellent talent manager

If the CEO can identify and convince the right talents to the appropriate jobs, then the only thing left for him to do is to get out of their way. In order to keep talents motivated, the CEO must articulate lofty visions.

As to actual capability in the day to day running, it is really not that essential, although it can be useful. Does anybody think Arnold Schwarzenegger could acquire the capability to manage the 1.6 trillion USD Californian economy overnight after a life time of pumping iron and taking roles in movies that involves little more than spouting one-liners like "I'll be back" in movies? But he seems to be doing fine nevertheless because he is an excellent communicator and has the right advisers. In fact, compared to GWB who had a spotty track record even as Texas governor, The fact that Arnie ought to be the classic all brawns and no brain beefcake, and yet nobody associates him with the word "dumb" compared to Bush shows how well he managed his image.

All that said, CEO pay is going all wacko these days. Carly Fiorina may be just a scapegoat for all the HP woes, but few would think she did a super outstanding job, and yet her severance package can be as high 42 million USD, probably because she is now unemployable in the same capacity. Off hand, I can name three people who earned a billion USD just be being an employee: Sandy Weill, former CEO of Citigroup, Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft and Dr Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google.

If one can be paid millions for failing, how can we begrudge our ministers 2 million?

1 comment:

  1. Both jobs involve lots and money and resposabiliries. Not so bad