Winning attitude Featured

8:00pm EDT August 26, 2007

Back in the dot-com boom of the late ’90s, everyone talked about a new economy, in which can-do attitudes and creative solutions to everyday problems would change the world.

Despite the subsequent economic bust, much of that promise has been fulfilled. We live in a digital world where connectivity is ubiquitous, and those businesses that embraced the technological revolution are better off than those that didn’t.

Today, innovation continues to be a critical component of competition. At its core, innovation means making improvements by introducing something new, be it a product, process or service. Change is the only constant, and it can be either gradual or radical.

CEOs who embrace innovation as a core principle and take on the associated risk can do tremendous things for their organizations. All because they refuse to operate with a business-as-usual mentality.

We are honored to present three such leaders at the ninth annual Smart Business Innovation in Business Conference, presented by Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Ohio. The combined companies of these three executives employ more than 60,000 people and generate more than $70 billion in annual revenue.

Angela Braly is president and CEO of WellPoint Inc., the largest health care company in the nation and Anthem’s parent company.

WellPoint’s success is due, in part, to its focus on developing innovative health care solutions by analyzing comprehensive health care data and creating new solutions through unique plans and products. With health-related issues on every CEO’s mind these days, people hang on Braly’s every word.

As chairman and CEO of diversified chemical company Ashland Inc., Jim O’Brien is a leader who isn’t afraid to tackle change. When he took over in 2002, he faced a weak energy market, a falling stock price and a business in need of a facelift. He reorganized the company into more strategic divisions, implemented new processes and procedures, and re-energized Ashland, whose brands include Valvoline, into a leaner organization.

Four years ago, Steven Demetriou’s company, Aleris International, didn’t exist. He formed it in 2004 through the purchase and merger of two independent aluminum companies and with the recognition that there was a niche market to be conquered. In a short period of time, he’s built an industry leader with more than $5 billion in revenue.

If you’re looking to innovate, please join us later this month at the conference to hear what these leaders have to say.

Contact Editor Dustin Klein at dsklein@sbnonline.com