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Carroll School of Management

Thomas J. Falk

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Kimberly-Clark Corporation

Excerpt from remarks to Boston College’s Chief Executives’ Club of Boston

April 3, 2014

TAKEAWAY: Developing Talent

The question was, How do you accelerate the development of a team? So you’ve got to have really built-up HR capabilities. So today everyone we hire in China, day one, has an individual development plan. And then, you know, for those people that are in critical roles, you’re finding accelerated development experiences. 

We’ve done a lot of cross-border moves, but doing big expat assignments is really expensive, so we’ve done some three-month swaps, where we’ll have—you know, we had a person in China who was working on a project. That same project needed to be reapplied in Brazil. We sent them on a three-month assignment to Brazil, where they got a great cross-border experience. 

We’re doing some cross-functional moves, where we’re giving people a chance to manage in a different function. 

And so where I’d say, years ago, you tended to move people to fill vacancies, and if you got some development out of it, that was kind of a nice thing, today you have to be much more purposeful and actually force moves to create the development so that you’ve got the people that are ready with the skills that you need. 

And maybe it doesn’t apply—that same level to everybody. We’ve done a better job of identifying what are those critical roles, what’s the succession planning for those roles. And for those key, you know, near-ready now successors, they’ve got to have all those right development moves and prioritize those and make them happen and hold the leadership team accountable for that. 

And so, we set goals every year on number of development moves for top talent and how many of them were cross-functional, how many of them were cross-geography and start to track that. And then you can start to see the momentum happening over time.