How CEO Carol Tomé reset focus at UPS

October 23, 2020, 12:49 PM UTC
SHIPPING MAGNATE: UPS CEO Carol Tomé oversees the handling of more than 21 million U.S.packages per day.
Sally Montana—Redux

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination advances, Ghislaine Maxwell’s deposition is unsealed, and Carol Tomé put UPS on a path to “better, not bigger.” Have a relaxing weekend.

– What’s up at UPS. We’re ending our unofficial Fortune Most Powerful Women week with an interview with an executive who previously appeared on our ranking as CFO of Home Depot: Carol Tomé, who was named CEO of UPS in June.

Tomé (No. 5 on this year’s list) tells our colleague Aaron Pressman that she’d planned on spending this year gardening after retiring from Home Depot in 2019. But UPS’s board—where she’s served since 2003—had other plans. So rather than pass 2020 minding her perennials, Tomé has been guiding UPS through a massive pandemic-fueled spike in demand, as well as narrowing the company’s focus and presiding over an improvement in stock performance.

There’s a lot to unpack in their Q+A, but one exchange really jumped out for me. Aaron asked about Tomé about her vow to make the company “better not bigger”—and how the company had done the opposite in the past. The CEO recalled an early exercise she did with the leadership team:

“[W]e put all our initiatives up on the wall around the conference room. I gave everybody 10 green dots and 10 red dots. Green were for those initiatives that we thought were wildly important. Red were for those we should stop doing.

All the green dots went up. No red dots. I said: You have to. So we went around again, and everybody used the red dots, which is very helpful, because it allowed us to say this is not important, right? We can put that on the shelf right now.

It allowed us to narrow our focus. It’s so critically important. You know, what is Lewis Carroll’s saying? ‘If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.’ That’s effectively where we were.”

I suspect many in corporate America can relate! Under Tomé’s watch, the shipping giant is resetting its compass and choosing its path with care. Read the full interview here.

Kristen Bellstrom

Today’s Broadsheet was curated by Emma Hinchliffe


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