Transformational Leadership: How to be a Catalyst for Change with Cynthia Carroll and Frances Frei

This week, Gautam Mukunda talks to two leaders who have extensive experience with transformational leadership. Tune in to hear the approach and takeaways each has from their time leading organizations through times of change.

Great leaders have the insight to see what the right thing to do is, the skill to do it, and the courage to do it even when it is hard. When those three things come together, the impact a great leader can have and the number of lives they can touch is vast.

In this episode, Host Gautam Mukunda speaks with two phenomenal leaders who have completely upended, transformed, and positively impacted the culture of their respective organizations. As CEO of Anglo American, Cynthia Carroll was the first female CEO of a major mining organization and in 2008, Forbes listed her as the fifth most powerful woman in the world. In 2017 Frances Frei served as Senior Vice President of Uber, and radically changed the toxic culture into one the employees could be proud of. She is currently a Professor of Technology and Operations Management at Harvard Business School.

I was relentlessly optimistic and rigorous about the future, and I think if you have a rigorous and optimistic way forward, coupled with honor and reverence for the past, I think that’s what facilitates change, and maybe an insider or outsider helps but I think those two might be more important.

Frances Frei

I think you need a catalyst for change, and that’s what I aimed to do at Anglo American, through prioritizing safety as had never been done before.But it really woke everybody up that we were on a different path, and starting with the protection, the care and respect of each and every person who worked in our operations, or within our walls.

Cynthia Carroll

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Books Referenced on World Reimagined, Season 2 Episode 2: 

Unleashed: The Unapologetic Leader’s Guide to Empowering Everyone Around You, by Anne Morriss and Frances X. Frei

Guest Information – Transformational Leadership: How to be a Catalyst for Change:

Cynthia Carroll has spent most of her career leading global businesses in the industrial sector. Cynthia began her career as an exploration geologist at Amoco Production Company in Denver, Colorado before joining Alcan Aluminum Corporation. She held various executive roles at the company including President of Bauxite, Alumina, and Specialty Chemicals, and Chief Executive

Officer of the Primary Metal Group, Alcan’s core business. From 2007 to 2013, Cynthia served as the Chief Executive Officer of Anglo American plc. At the time, Anglo American was one of the largest and most diversified mining companies in the world employing approximately 160,000 people with operations on six continents and a market capitalization of approximately $40 billion. Anglo American ranked in the top 20 companies on the London Stock Exchange’s FTSE 100 Index.

Cynthia sits on the boards of Hitachi Ltd, Baker Hughes, Pembina Pipeline, Glencore, American Securities, and Prince (an American Securities company). She previously chaired the boards of Anglo American Platinum Ltd, De Beers Société Anonyme, and Vedanta Resources Holdings Ltd. and has also served on the boards of BP, the International Council on Mining and Metals, the International Aluminum Institute, the American Aluminum Association, and the Sara Lee Corporation. She is a fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineers and a Fellow of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining.

Cynthia holds a Bachelor’s degree in Geology from Skidmore College, New York, a Master’s degree in Geology from the University of Kansas, and a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) from Harvard University. She has also been awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science from the University of Exeter, Honorary Doctorate of Laws from Skidmore College, and an Honorary Doctorate of Economics from the University of Limerick. In 2009, Forbes ranked her the fourth most powerful woman in the world. She is the only woman to have held a CEO position of a major mining company. Cynthia and her husband have four children ranging in age from 21 to 27.

Frances Frei is a Professor of Technology and Operations Management at Harvard Business School. Her research investigates how leaders create the conditions for organizations and individuals to thrive by designing for excellence in strategy, operations, and culture. She regularly advises senior executives embarking on large-scale change initiatives and organizational transformation, including embracing diversity and inclusion as a lever for improved performance.

A global thought leader on leadership and strategy, Frances is widely recognized for her dynamic teaching style and breakthrough courses optimized for rapid, lasting impact. She developed one of the most popular classes at HBS, which explores business models that reliably delight customers. She also led the design and launch of HBS’s innovative FIELD curriculum built around learning experiences that are experiential and immersive.

In 2017, Frances was tapped to be Uber’s first Senior Vice President of Leadership and Strategy with a mandate to help the company navigate its very public crisis in leadership and culture. Her firsthand experience in Silicon Valley gave her a new lens on the urgent topic of trust, and in May 2018, Frances delivered a widely-viewed TED talk on “How to build (and rebuild) trust.” This powerful framework delivers a crash course on stakeholder trust: how to build it, maintain it and restore it when lost.