Education: Western Illinois University, bachelor’s degree; Northern Illinois University, MBA
First job: Motorola
Favorite business periodical: The Wall Street Journal
Whom do you admire most in business and why? David Jones, chairman of Hospira. He started Human Health back in the 1960s.
What is your most important business lesson? You’ve got to change, because if you don’t, both you as an individual and the company you’re running will get left behind.
What are the three most important leadership characteristics that a CEO should possess? Integrity, passion and the ability to listen. I think too many CEOs talk first and don’t listen.
How would you describe your leadership style? I think I’m direct, decisive, open and approachable.
Begley on breaking down barriers: On a recent, rainy morning, Begley arrived at work later than usual and had to park in a space in the last row of the Hospira headquarters lot and got soaked running to the building.
“We don’t have reserved spaces,” Begley says.
But he’s not complaining. One way to ensure that employees buy in to the leadership’s program is to break down the barriers between the two groups. That means no lavish perks for executives.
“I eat in the cafeteria,” says Begley. “When I do, I typically go down by myself, get my tray and sit with a different group each time. If I don’t know who they are, we introduce ourselves to each other. I don’t want a different standard.”
Begley on integrity: Financial performance is not the only bottom line for success. Conducting business with integrity when it comes to customers, shareholders and employees is a value Begley has emphasized at Hospira since the outset. Soon after the company was spun out, Begley had a book titled “The Integrity Advantage” distributed to every employee.
“It has a summary in the back so that if you don’t want to take the time to read the book, you can read the summary and still walk away with the understanding that you need,” Begley says. “So we’ve tried to do things like that, whether it’s our values or our business concepts, to make them easier to understand and then implement them.”
The role that integrity plays is important enough to Begley that Hospira includes a survey about it in its Sarbanes-Oxley compliance audit, even though it’s not a requirement by law.