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Published: August 26, 2008

 
 

Fulvio Conti: The Thought Leader Interview

Then it became a public company. And with the injection of a new breed of management coming from outside, there’s been a major change in attitude. We borrowed experience from different parts of the market.

But that was not enough. We were still working as a domestic power company, a regulated and self-protected local utility, with no exposure to the outside world except for the low-cost commodities of fuel that we took in, and of electricity that we sold. With the globalization of the energy sector, it became evident that we needed a different approach. Electricity was no longer a single product, but many products. We needed more complete and deliberate integration among our people, a more open mentality for our management team, and no borders between departments. We needed people in power generation to see how their efforts affected the distribution and the finalization of an offer to the end customer.

S+B: How did you go about achieving this change?
CONTI: Several ways. We set up local megacommunity-style projects within Enel, across departments. We recruited and promoted a different breed of manager, people who took responsibility for their part of the overall corporate objectives. We gave them accountability not just for margins or profits, but also for the way they related to colleagues in their own and other departments.

We also deliberately created an integrated management team and a networked management structure, in which people would share their experience and interact across boundaries. The final element was the internationalization of the management team. Our managers were active in 21 different countries, from Chile to Russia, with 17 languages spoken among them. And all of them needed to be exposed to a single set of values and equipped to learn from one another. Among other measures, we recently launched a custom program on leadership with Harvard Business School. We are sending our top talent there from around the world. This will expedite the integration, forging a new culture and creating a network among the best and brightest at Enel.

Our company’s motto is, “Energy in tune with you.” We are tuning ourselves — to the customer and our colleagues. That’s the way management now has to evolve. 

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Art Kleiner is the editor-in-chief of strategy+business. He is the author of The Age of Heretics: A History of the Radical Thinkers Who Reinvented Corporate Management (2nd ed., Wiley, 2008).
 
 
 
 
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