Austin Lally recently left P&G after more than 25 years to take up a new position as Group CEO of Verisure Holdings / Securitas Direct AB. Prior to leaving P&G, he was President of Braun and Appliances and a member of the Global Leadership Council. He started his career in the UK and also had assignments in France, Greater China, Germany, Switzerland and the US. When he left he sent a letter to his P&G colleagues that tells us a lot about Austin’s character, achievements and many passions including family, work, music, travel, literature & sport.
Austin's letter to P&G colleagues announcing his retirement
Today, we are announcing my retirement from the Procter & Gamble Company. I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for all of your help and support through the years we worked together.
Looking back, it has been a tremendous experience. More than 25 fulfilling years.
It began in England. In Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne. This was a unique place and organisation. I owe so much of my personal development to the lessons and role models from Hedley House. In Guangzhou later, we wanted to build the "Gosforth of the East". I had 8 very happy years in the North-East.
Karen and I went to France in 1997. That was the start of a global adventure that continues today. Paris, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Frankfurt Geneva, Boston and then a return to Geneva in 2012. All of these places are special to our family.
I am also proud of what our teams achieved for the business.
Building a successful Pampers business in the UK. We went from market shares in the mid-teens to 65 and kept it through the Huggies launch. We delivered on John Bennett’s rallying cry. “Not one single diaper”.
Launching Always in the UK and taking it to leadership, starting with a test market in Carlisle where the stores were perfect because I personally inspected them on Fridays on the way to see Karen who was still studying back in Glasgow.
Some of my most special memories come from the 7 years spent in Greater China. We turned around losing positions in Laundry and Feminine Care, built an outstanding Chinese Marketing organisation and took our Beauty business to new heights. I also managed to pick up a radio show on 102.7 FM and present a prize at the China Music Awards. That was fun. But, most importantly, Karen and I left Greater China with our three daughters Catherine, Rebecca and Abigail, all born on The Peak in Hong Kong in the Matilda Hospital. We also left with many friendships that will last a lifetime.
Developing and mentoring our talent in Asia will always be a source of pride for me. Every single young leader that I worked with from that time left me with a sense of responsibility and an equal amount of optimism. I have been a regular visitor back over the 8 years since. Every trip re-energizes me.
I will always regard myself as part of the P&G China team.
I enjoyed leading the restructuring of DACH in 2006-2007 and helping to lay foundations for the success that Pirjo and her team have driven over the past 7 years. Also, my time in Germany prepared me well to do what was needed on Babycare, Gillette and Braun. It reinforced the importance of facing reality, broadening the portfolio and of trusting the local team with superb execution.
I returned to Babycare to lead Western Europe and 2 of the global Product Lines. We delivered a "three-peat". 3 record years of profit, sales, volume, share and equity growth. I was also proud of our partnership with UNICEF to eliminate neonatal and maternal tetanus around the world. Seeing the program at first hand in a small community in Sierra Leone [with Salma Hayek] showed me the power of a business to make good things happen.
I was able to adopt Boston as my own American city, and became "Gillette Blue", building a stronger innovation pipeline that will benefit us in the years to come. I will also never forget the Bruins lifting the Stanley Cup, and having the chance to ride through Boston on the Duck Bus with the trophy.
Braun has been the final business challenge. Leading the business as President back to growth behind the new OGSM choices and better execution. This fiscal will be the first year of organic volume growth in the past 7 years. We are beating all our top line and bottom line targets. Shares are growing. We are creating value. We defined a winning Braun Business Model and are executing it better each day. The Company has now recognised Braun has a strategic role in our Grooming portfolio, shown in the recent announcements. I'm very proud of the Braun team. The future is bright for them.
Beyond the business, I will miss the organization. I always gained personal energy from recruiting, coaching and developing our young talent. I also saw at firsthand how we perform better when we make our organisations more diverse. In Boston and in Geneva, I was very proud to be an Ally and Executive sponsor of GABLE to help create an inclusive environment where every single employee including LGBT employees can bring all of themselves to work every day.
I have grown in experience over the years and have developed as a leader. But, the essence has remained the same. I believe in rigour, focusing on what really matters, being courageous and unafraid of failure, a passion for winning not taking part, the power of agility, resilience, analytical thinking to get to Why Why, a demand for high standards, authenticity and the responsibility to connect emotionally and to inspire everyone to be their best. The most important are courage and resilience.
One of my favourite poets is Robert Frost. He grew up in Lawrence, New Hampshire. We passed his farm on the way to ski in New Hampshire and Maine when we lived in New England. His poem “ The Road Not Taken” has been an inspiration to me for some time. It is a good metaphor for career choices. “I took the one less travelled by and that has made all the difference”. It is guiding me now. Here’s a recording of Robert reading his own poem.
It will be very difficult to leave behind these teams, these friendships and these brands. It has been my life and part of my family for 25 years. In particular, I want to say a special thank you and goodbye to the organisations in China, in Babycare and in Braun.
I'm grateful to the Company for all of these special experiences which allowed me to grow. I was also happy with the positive perspective on future opportunities. But, in the end the decision to retire from the Company at this time came down to family. After so many moves over the years, Karen and I will put education continuity for our three daughters first. To make that a reality, we have made a decision that my short-term and long-term career centre will be in Europe. My aspiration will be to lead European based businesses. I will let you know more about my future plans after P&G as they develop.
I will be cheering you all on in the future. And, if you need any personal advice or counsel, remember you can always reach me on my personal email email@example.com and on Facebook and LinkedIn.
Finally, let’s go out with attitude. I’m going to be at Caribana all this week. The highlight will be to see The Pixies tonight for the second time this year. Here’s an anthem to sum up the change. “Don’t Look Back Into The Sun” by my favourite band in the past decade, The Libertines.