On Oct. 2, NYC Program students crowded around a Saks, Inc. conference room table with CEO and Hamilton alumnus and board chair Steve Sadove ’73 P’07,’10,’13. Sadove spoke about his successful career in marketing and management before fielding questions from the group.
Sadove focused on his journey from Harvard Business School to General Foods (now part of Kraft, Inc.), where he ultimately became the executive vice president of its desserts division. He spoke about his innovation through Jell-O, where under his leadership ready-to-eat Jell-O reinvigorated an otherwise stagnant brand.
As president of Clairol at Bristol-Myers Squibb, Sadove started Herbal Essences and sold its beauty care division to Procter & Gamble after Clairol became the number one hair care business in America. He soon after became CEO at Saks, Inc., and after a little more than 10 years of transforming the company into a luxury brand, he helped to sell Saks to Hudson’s Bay Company for $2.9 billion.
During student questions, Sadove shared with the group some clear leadership and career insights. He stressed that the company culture is as important as a firm’s strategy and results; therefore, leaders must focus on building the right work environment for their employees.
Sadove also highlighted the importance to innovate early in one’s career to distinguish oneself from the rest of the pack; it is not enough to just do your job, but go beyond what is asked of you. In speaking about Hamilton, Sadove credits his writing and communication proficiency to the college and attributes his success in business to these skills.