Keeping it simple

Paolo Scaroni, the current chief executive of Italian oil and gas company Eni, discussed his experiences of leadership at Eni, the Italian electric utility Enel and the UK glassmaker Pilkington.

by The McKinsey Quarterly
Last Updated: 23 Jul 2013

At Pilkington, Scaroni recalled, his job was to improve cost efficiencies by closing plants, reducing overheads and restructuring costs (the numbers of staff went from 42,000 to 27,000).

At Enel, Scaroni refocused the business around electricity and gas. Believing in making things simple, Scaroni eschews complexity. He believed his previous incumbent at Enel had made a mistake in turning various cost centres such as IT and real estate into stand-alone profit centres.

At Eni, the approach is different, said Scaroni. It has outperformed its competitors and does not need any major restructuring. The growth has come from a period of acquisitions and, in the near future, Scaroni says he will focus on promoting a period of organic growth.

Communicating the strategy to employees is a very important part of success. It should be very easy to explain strategy, adds Scaroni. If it is not, then it is too complex.

Talking about his experience from working in the UK, Italy and France, Scaroni noted the way in which the European mentality about employment seems to suggest that you can live and work near to the place you were born.

While Scaroni thinks this is often a boring and counter-productive prospect from the employee's point of view, he adds that it is also an 'impossible dream' in the modern, global economy.

Source: Leading change: An interview with the CEO of Eni
Giancarlo Ghislanzoni
The McKinsey Quarterly, 2006 Number 3

Review by Morice Mendoza

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