CEO Reflections on Steve Jobs

Chief Executive asked a number of CEOs to assess Steve Jobs' impact on business and leadership. This is a compilation of their responses.

Chief Executive asked a number of CEOs to assess Steve Jobs’ impact on business and leadership. Their observations follow:

“Steve Jobs’ was a passionate driver.  His passion created energy in the people around him, and Apple unleashed incredible innovation.  The Apple comeback has inspired innovation comebacks at companies such as Bausch + Lomb.”

Fred Hassan
Chairman, Bausch & Lomb
Former CEO, Schering-Plough

“My first thought is the sadness over his loss. It seems a pitiful that after all these years we do not have a cure for cancer. What a damn shame! Yes, there are 208 types of cancer but with all the billions of allotted funding for research we don’t seem very close to a cure.

Second, I think we, as a generation, are lucky to have lived during the time of Steve Jobs. He changed the way my employees operated. The iPhone changed their lives…my executives couldn’t buy them fast enough. They were more connected, better informed and efficient all at the same time.  The iPhone made the work of work more fun for them.  We were all lucky to benefit from the delight he created.”

Christine Jacobs
Chairman, president  and CEO

“Steve Jobs was not just a business leader – but a genuine folk hero.  He is a reminder that in this age of self-directed work teams, employee empowerment, and strengthened board governance oversight – the entrepreneurial verve of significant individuals is still one of our most cherished assets.  Great leaders do not always come through the assembly line of HR development processes or the messianic search of external recruiting.  Sometimes, the tolerance for quirky and even explosive personalities is worth restoring and the wisdom gleaned from those resilient from adversity is worth celebrating.   No matter where you go on the planet, no town or village has a monument to a board committee or a management team – but rather to courageous individuals who took wise risks to the benefit of us all.”

Jeffrey Sonnenfeld
President and CEO
The Chief Executive Leadership Institute,
Yale School of Management

“Steve Jobs was one of the greatest disruptive innovators of all time. His innovations completely changed how all of us function on a daily basis. Steve showed CEO’s/managers not to be afraid of failure, not to manage for the existing state of affairs, have a continuous stream of new ideas and (I believe time will validate this) build a great team to support your vision.”

Thomas J. Quinlan III
President and CEO
RR Donnelley

“Steve Jobs demonstrated two qualities that distinguish good CEOs from the really great ones – vision and courage.  He had the ability to see what is possible before anyone else, and the courage to work through adversity and bring his vision into a reality that has transformed our society.”

Thomas J. Saporito
Chairman & CEO
RHR International

“Steve Jobs was the greatest inventor of our time. I can think of no one other than Henry Ford who has had such an impact on the true definition of innovation. We think of Steve Jobs as a technology innovator, but think about his innovations beyond technology such as supply chain, business model and process innovation. He has taught me much about technology innovation and even more so about the definition of the word.”

Bill Nuti
Chairman and CEO
NCR Corporation


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