Bob Seelert speaks to students about career building
Saatchi & Saatchi chair focuses on staying true to priorities and taking a stance
February 29, 2012, 1:09 am·
When he was in high school, Saatchi & Saatchi chair Bob Seelert applied to colleges based on their French study abroad programs. He did not know what career he would pursue when he set foot in Harvard College, realized he wanted to learn “what makes our economy tick” and went on to graduate from Harvard Business School.
The Wharton Communications Advisory Board hosted Seelert to speak about leadership and how to build a successful career on Tuesday afteroon in Hunstman Hall.
He outlined a three-step process which started with two questions: What are my strengths and what is it that I really like to do? After, he said, “Pick a function, industry and company that will highly value those attributes.”
Seelert also told the audience to leave “footprints in the snow.”
“You don’t need to leave a lot of them,” he said “but you must be leaving footprints behind if you want to make it to the top.”
Seelert began his career at General Foods Corporation — where he worked for 23 years — and became president and CEO of Worldwide Coffee and International Foods.
He became Saatchi & Saatchi chair in 1997 and helped stabilize the company through a merger that increased share prices by 450 percent. Now Seelert is involved with the company’s strategy and management.
Attendees at the event received a handout which contained 10 tips for building a successful career from Seelert’s book, Start with the Answer (And Other Wisdom for Aspiring Leaders).
Wharton MBA student Prathima Rodrigues liked that the handout was concise.
Seelert was happy to speak to Wharton students, especially given the intended readership for his new book.
“[The] target audience for the book were what I called aspiring leaders,” he said. “They’re going to be movers and shakers, people just like you.”
College senior Alexander Czik, who is interested in advertising, said he came to the event because Saatchi & Saatchi is a leader in the industry.
“You don’t see many people from the advertising industry,” Wharton MBA student Siddharth Narayan said. “Seelert has a very different profile from the speakers who usually come [to Wharton.]”
Wharton and College senior and Wharton Communications Advisory Board co-chair Sachi Sobti said the board jumped at the opportunity to have Seelert speak at Wharton, saying that Seelert was a refreshing speaker. “He gave us day-by-day strategies,” she said.
Wharton junior Sam Tang and fellow Advisory Board co-chair said his favorite part of the event was when Seelert emphasized staying true to his priorities, which included going home for dinner with his family every night.
“He didn’t compromise what he really believed in,” said Tang, “and he has had incredible success as a result.”
Seelert attempted to instill the idea that leadership is a unique attribute extending beyond mere logistical work.
“While management is all about planning, directing, controlling and measuring,” he said, “leadership is all about standing for something.”