Ram Charan Profile

World-renowned consultant, author and speaker Ram Charan has made an extraordinary life journey, from working in the family shoe shop in a small town in northern India to an engineering degree then a job in Australian mines followed by an MBA and doctorate from Harvard Business School, from where he graduated with high distinction. He was then a member of faculty at Harvard Business School and Northwestern University before becoming a full-time consultant.

Ram’s clients, including General Electric, Bank of America, DuPont, Tata Group, Max Group and many more, have come to value his talent for cutting right to the heart of a business problem. This ability to provide relevant practical advice has made him invaluable both to his corporate clients and to the millions who read his books and articles.

Constantly travelling, Ram’s work with the highest end clients enables him to stay in touch with the rapidly changing business world and continually refine and innovate with his solutions. Ram mentored more than a dozen current CEOs, and many others whom he has taught recently will no doubt follow the same path. Former General Electric chairman Jack Welch said of Ram that, “[he] has the rare ability to distil meaningful from meaningless and transfer it in a quiet, effective way without destroying confidences,” and Ivan Seidenberg, former CEO of Verizon, called Ram “[my] secret weapon.”

Ram’s fifteen books have sold over two million copies in more than a dozen languages between them. Along with former Honeywell CEO Larry Bossidy he wrote Execution, which spent nearly three years on the New York Times bestseller list and was a #1 Wall Street Journal bestseller. His writing has appeared in Harvard Business Review, Fortune, BusinessWeek, Time, Chief Executive and USA TODAY, and he is a Distinguished Fellow of the National Academy of Human Resources.

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    Ram Charan is a world-renowned business advisor, author and speaker who has spent the past 35 years working with many top companies, CEOs, and boards of our time. In his work with companies including GE, MeadWestvaco, Bank of America, DuPont, Novartis, EMC, 3M, Verizon, Aditya Birla Group, Tata Group, GMR, Max Group, Yildiz Holdings, and Grupo RBS, he is known for cutting through the complexity of running a business in today’s fast changing environment to uncover the core business problem. His real-world solutions, shared with millions through his books and articles in top business publications, have been praised for being practical, relevant and highly actionable—the kind of advice you can use Monday morning.

    Ram’s introduction to business came early while working in the family shoe shop in a small town in northern India, where he was raised. He earned an engineering degree in India and soon after took a job in Australia. When his talent for business was discovered, Ram was encouraged to develop it. He earned MBA and doctorate degrees from Harvard Business School, where he graduated with high distinction and was a Baker Scholar, then served on the faculties of Harvard Business School and Northwestern University before pursuing consulting full time.

    Ram’s work takes him around the globe non-stop and gives him an unparalleled, up-to-date insider view of how economies and leading companies operate. Through keen observation and analysis, he forms powerful insights that help business leaders face their toughest challenges in the areas of growth, talent development, corporate governance, and profitability. His timely concrete advice is a powerful tool in navigating today’s uncertain business climate. Former Chairman of GE Jack Welch says Ram “has the rare ability to distill meaningful from meaningless and transfer it in a quiet, effective way without destroying confidences,” while Ivan Seidenberg, the former CEO of Verizon, calls Ram his “secret weapon.”

    Ram has coached more than a dozen leaders who went on to become CEOs. He reaches many more up-and-coming business leaders through in-house executive education programs. His energetic, interactive teaching style has won him several awards, including the Bell Ringer award at GE’s famous Crotonville Institute and best teacher award at Northwestern. He was among BusinessWeek’s top ten resources for in-house executive development programs.

    He has authored 15 books that have sold over 2 million copies in more than a dozen languages. Execution, which he coauthored with former Honeywell CEO Larry Bossidy was a #1 Wall Street Journal bestseller and spent more than 150 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list. He also has written for publications including Harvard Business Review, Fortune, BusinessWeek, Time, Chief Executive and USA TODAY.

    Ram was elected a Distinguished Fellow of the National Academy of Human Resources and has served on the Blue Ribbon Commission on Corporate Governance. He has served on the boards of Hindalco in India, Emaar, Austin Industries, Tyco Electronics, and Fischer and Porter. His newest book, Global Tilt, is a guide to leading your business through the radical shift in economic power currently underway.

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Ram Charan's Speech Descriptions

Charan has a number of highly praised programs which help his audiences think about the ways in which they can achieve true repeatable and measurable innovation.

Whether he is talking about corporate innovation, new sales techniques or leadership development, Charan employs his trademark real-world practicality to give his audience a valuable toolkit of solutions to take away with them to apply to their businesses.

Charan is continually refining his talks according to what he sees as he travels the world training global leaders, and so he can address such up-to-date issues as how to manage in a downturn and how to provide leadership in an era of economic uncertainty.

Innovation and Growth: Cultivating The Game-Changers
Companies need innovation for revenue and profit growth. But many people think innovation is unpredictable or out of reach. Ram Charan demystifies innovation and explains how powerhouses Procter & Gamble, Nokia, LEGO and Honeywell do it. With his penchant for real-world practicality, he translates insights from the best companies into concrete steps that make innovation repeatable and measurable.

This session, based on Charan’s book The Game-Changer: How You Can Drive Revenue and Profit Growth with Innovation, covers the following:

  • Putting the customer at the center of innovation.
  • The building blocks of innovation.
  • Innovation as a social process.
  • Reducing the risk of innovation failure.
  • How to be an innovation leader.

    Reinventing How You Sell: What the Customer Wants You to Know
    Too often selling becomes a war over price. Ram Charan shows the way out with a new approach to selling that starts with helping customers reach their business goals. Does it require new skills and ways of working? Yes, with salespeople leading the charge. Here Charan discusses companies that have made the shift and escaped from commodity-pricing hell.

    This session, based on Charan’s book What the Customer Wants You to Know: How Everyone Needs to Think Differently About Sales, covers the following:

  • How to put the fun back into selling.
  • Learning to see your customers holistically.
  • Adopting a new role for salespeople—and everybody else.
  • Shaping offerings so that costumers will willingly pay more.

    Leadership Know-How: Developing Leaders at All Levels
    Charan brings realism and specificity to a subject that is often vague and amorphous: leadership. Why do so many leaders fail? Very simple, he says, they don’t know how to run a business. Charan breaks through the façade of leadership to explain the capabilities leaders must possess. He gives aspiring leaders a blueprint to take charge of their own development and help other leaders grow.

    This session, based on Charan’s book Know-How: The 8 Skills that Separate People Who Perform From Those Who Don’t and his book Leaders at All Levels: Deepening Your Talent Pool to Solve the Succession Crisis, covers the following:

  • What leadership training tends to omit.
  • The 8 capabilities leaders really need.
  • When and how personality matters.
  • Examples of leaders who have outstanding know-how in critical areas.
  • How to build and improve your know-how.
  • How to build a pipeline of leaders who deliver.

    Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done
    For many leaders, creating a strategy is the easy part. Making it happen is the bigger challenge. Why is flawless execution so hard to achieve? Because few leaders understand what it demands. Execution takes personal discipline, and more important, a systematic approach to synchronizing the moving parts of the organization.

    Based on the best selling and highly praised book Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done, this session explains:

  • Why execution cannot be delegated.
  • How companies like Wal-Mart, Dell, and GE use execution to outperform competitors.
  • The framework of flawless execution.
  • Tools to develop your own discipline of execution.

    Managing in the Downturn – Tools to Use
    Preparing a company to survive a prolonged period of slow growth or even contraction is one of the most difficult tasks that will ever confront management. Leaders must recognize the new reality confronting their companies and take the necessary steps to shore up the company and weather the storm. Ram Charan will show you the tools leaders and managers need to implement to prepare for and steer through these tough economic times and also how to seize the opportunities that invariably arise out of difficult environments.

    This session is based on Ram Charan’s 2009 book, Leadership in the Era of Economic Uncertainty: The New Rules of Getting Things Done in Difficult Times.

    Leadership in the Era of Economic Uncertainty
    Ram Charan helps you steer your business through the minefield of contracting markets, cash shortages, and ongoing uncertainty. No matter what your leadership role, Charan’s insight will help ensure that your business emerges leaner, stronger, and well in front of the competition.

    The chaos of global economic meltdown has imposed an urgency you have never before experienced. It’s a scary thing, but it can also be exciting if you’re prepared. Hear how leaders at DuPont, Hanesbrands, Wipro, and other companies have used Charan’s techniques to get results.

    Charan provides practical actions you can execute immediately to:

  • Protect cash flow vigilantly, even daily, and use cash more efficiently
  • Use ground intelligence to survive the storm and position your business to thrive in the aftermath
  • Develop a better understanding of your customers
  • Reevaluate your pricing strategy and capital expenditures
  • Use cost cutting strategically

  • Ram Charan on Speaking

    Whatever I do, it has to pass the following test: is it useful to people? It has to be practical; it has to simple; it has to be useful.

    SPEAKING.COM: What would you like audiences to learn from your work?

    CHARAN: My mission in life is to help people succeed. Whatever I do, it has to pass the following test: is it useful to people? It has to be practical; it has to simple; it has to be useful.

    I have worked in a number of areas and on various boards of directors. I’m very actively engaged across the globe in improving the practice of corporate governance. I wrote a book on execution with Larry Bossidy. I help companies and leaders to execute their plans. I help executives create innovation processes that generate profit.

    I co-wrote the book, Game Changer, with the CEO of Proctor&Gamble. Business strategy has changed. It’s a new game, a new context, so I’m developing new ideas about how to strategize effectively, because the old ways are no longer relevant. I also help companies change their organizations’ culture. These are the major things I talk about, in addition to global strategy.

    SPEAKING.COM: What projects are you currently working on and are excited about?

    CHARAN: No company wins without people, so I’m working on a book with two authors, People Before Strategy. It will be out next fall. People before strategy means people determine strategy; strategy does not determine people. So focus on people first. Exclusive Interview with Ram Charan
    Perspectives on Leadership and Entrepreneurship from Ram Charan
    In this interview, Ram Charan discusses:
    • What makes a good leader.
    • Turning economic downturns to your advantage.
    • Invention vs. Innovation.
    Read the Full Interview

    "Economic downturns offer opportunities, if you can read the messages in them."
    - Ram Charan

    What People are Saying about Seeing Ram Speak

    Rating Entries

    “Ram Charan is a wise counselor and keen observer on the front lines of the American board revolution.”
    —William Adams, retired chairman and president of Armstrong World Industries and former director of Bell Atlantic

    “His valuable views and opinions come from years of consulting with some of America′s best-known and most successful chairmen and CEOs, who also share their direct insights on the most controversial of topics.”
    —Jerome Meyer, chairman and CEO, Tektronix Inc., and director of AMP

    “Ram Charan′s depth of experience and leadership in the area of business management is unrivaled.”
    —Ron Meyer, President and COO, Vivendi Universal Entertainment

    “Ram Charan [consults] for the largest and most powerful companies . . . even more than his dedication, it′s his insights that have won him the ear of hundreds of top managers. . . . What Charan loves to do is to solve business problems. With his plainspoken Socratic approach, he helps demolish organizational silos or persuade entrenched executives to change their points of view. . . . Companies seek him out for his ′wise man′ approach rather than choosing a consultant with a narrow specialty.”
    —Fast Company

    “Meet a wise man: Ram Charan′s frenetic pace, fierce intelligence, and deep access have made him an unrivalled source of real world insights into what business does right -and all too often wrong.”
    —Fortune magazine

    “Among the world′s most sought after CEO advisers, Charan has worked closely with executives at General Electric and DuPont.”

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    Books by Ram Charan:

    Boards That Lead

    Boards That Lead
    When to Take Charge, When to Partner, and When to Stay Out of the Way
    Is your firm’s board creating value—or destroying it?

    Change is coming. Leadership at the top is being redefined as boards take a more active role in decisions that once belonged solely to the CEO. But for all the advantages of increased board engagement, it can create debilitating questions of authority and dangerous meddling in day-to-day operations. Directors need a new road map—for when to lead, when to partner, and when to stay out of the way.

    Boardroom veterans Ram Charan, Dennis Carey, and Michael Useem advocate this new governance model—a sharp departure from what has been demanded by governance activists, raters, and regulators—and reveal the emerging practices that are defining shared leadership of directors and executives. Based on personal interviews and the authors’ broad and deep experience working with executives and directors from dozens of the world’s largest firms, including Apple, Boeing, Ford, Infosys, and Lenovo, Boards That Lead tells the inside story behind the successes and pitfalls of this new leadership model and explains how to:

      • Define the central idea of the company
      • Ensure that the right CEO is in place and potential successors are identified
      • Recruit directors who add value
      • Root out board dysfunction
      • Select a board leader who deftly bridges the divide between management and the board
      • Set a high bar on ethics and risk

    With a total of eighteen checklists that will transform board directors from monitors to leaders, Charan, Carey, and Useem provide a smart and practical guide for businesspeople everywhere—whether they occupy the boardroom or the C-suite.

    The Leadership Pipeline: How to Build the Leadership Powered Company

    An updated and revised version of the bestselling The Leadership Pipeline – the critical resource for how companies can grow leaders from the inside.

    In business, leadership at every level is a requisite for company survival. Yet the leadership pipeline –the internal strategy to grow leaders – in many companies is dry or nonexistent. Drawing on their experiences at many Fortune 500 companies, the authors show how organizations can develop leadership at every level by identifying future leaders, assessing their corporate confidence, planning their development, and measuring their results.

    New to this edition is 65 pages of new material to update the model, share new stories and add new advice based on the ten more years of experience. The authors have also added a “Frequently Asked Questions” section to the end of each chapter.

    The book that shows how to get the job done and deliver results . . . whether you’re running an entire company or in your first management job

    Larry Bossidy is one of the world’s most acclaimed CEOs, a man with few peers who has a track record for delivering results. Ram Charan is a legendary advisor to senior executives and boards of directors, a man with unparalleled insight into why some companies are successful and others are not. Together they’ve pooled their knowledge and experience into the one book on how to close the gap between results promised and results delivered that people in business need today.

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