Program Highlights

  • Failures of matrix management and the need for authority with responsibility.
  • How worrying about a penny (or a million dollars) can kill a successful negotiation.
  • Working with the unions to get GM back on track.
Growth by acquisition has its place, but at some point you actually have to run your business. CEOs who buy, buy, buy with no real vision or strategy in mind can quickly end up with a big operational mess on their hands. That model is not sustainable, and nonstop deal-making just wears people down. Instead, understand your purpose, keep it simple, stick to your vision and business strategy, and execute the best you can. Anything that gets in the way of this has to go.

In this session, Jon Levin, Stanford University Professor and Economics Department Chair, leads an insightful interview in which Ed Whitacre shares, vividly, leadership lessons learned and the core management principles that catapulted him to 17 years as chairman and CEO of AT&T and, temporarily lured out of retirement, as chairman and CEO of General Motors Co.

As chairman and CEO of AT&T from 1990 until retiring in 2007, Whitacre led then-SBC Communications on a disciplined growth strategy and through a series of industry-changing mergers and acquisitions, including the 2005 acquisition of AT&T Corp. He is the author of
American Turnaround: Reinventing AT&T and GM and the Way We Do Business in the USA.

Reinventing the Way We Do Business

Ed Whitacre

Former chairman & CEO, AT&T and GM


48 Minutes