A.G. Lafley, former president, CEO and board chair of the Procter & Gamble Company, delivered one of two keynote addresses at the “Rethinking Success: From the Liberal Arts to Careers in the 21st Century” conference held April 11-13 at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also offered a keynote address at the conference that brought together liberal arts college trustees, presidents, faculty and career center administrators to discuss the question: “Is higher education fulfilling its role to intentionally prepare students for work and life after college?” Rice spoke at Hamilton as part of the Sacerdote Great Names Series in 2010.
Lafley, a 1969 Hamilton graduate, currently chairs the college’s board of trustees. He told conference attendees that when hiring, P&G looks for “thinkers and leaders.” More recently, he said, the company recognized that it also needed people who embraced change and were more collaborative.
“We care about what you can do, and whether you can adapt and grow,” he said in response to a question from conference organizer Andy Chan, who moderated the hour-long session. “You are in a continual state of becoming and you never arrive,” he said.
Lafley credited his liberal arts education for preparing him for his 33-year career with P&G, the world’s largest consumer packaged goods company. More specifically, he cited talent, innovation and productivity as the three factors that drive competitiveness.
To assess those factors, he said “companies will try to find a way to get an intense experience with a candidate.” When he retired, Lafley said 80 percent of P&G’s hires had some prior affiliation with the company, such as through internships, before they joined the organization. “Early identification is happening,” he said.
Mary Evans, interim executive director of the Maurice Horowitch Career Center, said the conference affirmed the direction Hamilton is taking to prepare its students for life after graduation, whether that includes a career or further study.
“Teaching students to write and communicate clearly is an advantage for Hamilton’s students,” she said. “Panelist after panelist stressed the importance of effective communication. Our role now is to continue helping our students build their networks and tell their stories, because we know liberal arts graduates are well prepared to succeed in the workplace.”