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JAB’s Peter Harf: hire ambitious talent and give them a mission
February 16, 2019 | | Financial Times | by Leila Abboud and Arash Massoudi.

JAB oversees its portfolio of coffee, beverages, and casual dining companies. .....When everything was going wrong last year at Coty, the cosmetics company backed by investment group JAB Holdings, Peter Harf reacted with characteristic ruthlessness, replacing Coty’s chief financial officer and chief executive, and taking back the Coty chairmanship from his longtime associate, Bart Becht. Describing last year’s share price decline of more than 60% as “unacceptable” for JAB and its co-investors, Mr Harf says the situation “had to have serious consequences” even for his inner circle......Harf believes that identifying talented people — and incentivising them through performance-based pay — have been key to his success over his nearly 40-year career..... just as important to Harf is knowing when to jettison those who are no longer serving the mission he has overseen since he was 35: growing the wealth of Germany’s reclusive Reimann family who are behind JAB....Harf's vision was for JAB to be modelled on Berkshire Hathaway, the investment conglomerate built by his idol, Warren Buffett. Success would come not only from backing the right leaders but by patiently building brands, embarking on deals and taking companies public to cash in on bets....Harf felt he had assembled a dream team: “My mantra has always been that I need to hire people who are better than me. Lions hire lions and sheep hire other sheep.”

Three questions for Peter Harf
(1) Who is your leadership hero?

“Warren Buffett. Hands down. All this stuff that I intend to do to make JAB into a long-term investment vehicle, he does it to perfection. He’s the greatest investor in the world, and I want to be like him. If we invest as well as Warren, we’ve won. Very simple.”

(3) What was your first leadership lesson?

One of my biggest role models was Bruce Henderson, the founder of Boston Consulting Group. When I worked for him, I prepared a three-page analysis about a problem. It had 10 bullet points as the conclusion. He dismissed it as way too complicated and said: “Don’t try to field every ball.” He meant that if you wanted to be a good leader, you have to be able to focus on the important stuff first.
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The trouble often starts when leaders start listing five or seven or 11 priorities. As Jim Collins, the author of the best-selling management books “Good to Great” and “Built to Last,” is fond of saying: “If you have more than three priorities, you don’t have any.”
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february 2019 by jerryking

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