The boss of one of the world’s leading consumer health and hygiene companies believes that hiring people who can “act like owners” of a business was more important than hiring “professionals who want to build their CVs” .
Rakesh Kapoor, who is CEO of Reckitt Benckiser (RB), the company behind household names such as Cillit Bang, Vanish, Dettol and Clearasil, made the comments in a question and answer session at the GG2 Leadership Awards last Wednesday (21).
Kapoor, one of the few chief executives from an ethnic minority background to be in charge of a FTSE 100 firm, said in conversation with compere DJ Nihal that he didn’t believe in hiring professionals.
“Many companies hire professionals because they are important to make progress for companies. I don’t believe in hiring professionals, I believe in hiring people who can fully act like owners of the companies.
“Professionals build their resume, owners build companies. I want my people to come into work every day as if it was their first day of life and not their last,” Kapoor said.
“It’s not just me, the whole leadership team in my company is a role model for all of us. I learn from them all the time and I think that is a role we can all play.”
The 57-year-old added: “I never said this is an easy company to work for. I expect everyone to do more than I expect from them. That needs a level of enthusiasm and excitement where everyone is allowed to do what they want, but knowing that it all makes a big difference.”
Kapoor was appointed as RB chief executive four years ago. He said: “It’s very possible people have heard about the brands and not the company, because we’re always talking about the brands. If you didn’t hear about my company that’s fine, but if you didn’t invest in my company you’ve really made a big mistake.
“There are 40,000 people in my company and each one of us has an opportunity to act like an owner every day. You can disagree with me, you can tell me your point of view, and if you have real passion and belief for your ideas, I’m going to allow you to go ahead and do it.
“People need to have the chance to be able to get it done. Stifling ideas is not good for business. Business does not thrive if everyone thinks the same.”
Kapoor – who has said that achieving ordinary targets does not excite him – revealed how his colleagues at RB once pitched an idea of a personalised condom to him (the company is also responsible for Durex Condoms) and even gave him one as a gift.
“We launched personalised condoms in China. You can actually go to the website, choose the design you want, and the slogan you want.
“When my team were presenting this idea about this personalised condom, they made one for me which had a message, ‘don’t push so hard’.”