How a $26 Billion Industrial Company Guards Against Disruption
By Dave Hendrick
Fortive President and CEO Jim Lico is trying to position a relatively new company with a long history at the forefront of industry trends while staying true to the principles and practices responsible for its past success.
Speaking to students at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business as part of a Leadership Speaker Series event, Lico said Fortive, which spun off from Danaher in 2016, was positioning itself to take advantage of three broad trends: the rise of the internet of things, software-enabled workflows, and advanced analytics and data.
An industrial growth company with a historic focus in instrumentation and sensor technologies, Lico said Fortive is embracing these important trends through a combination of organic growth investments, acquiring new businesses with relevant specializations, and accelerating internal innovation via the creation of a startup incubator.
The 27,000-employee company integrates its businesses and priorities within the culture of deep customer focus, team and business growth and continuous improvement .
After stints at General Motors and Allied Signal, Lico said he’s made his career choices based on culture, prioritizing people over industry.
“Who you work with and what you do is arguably more important than the industry or the specific company name,” Lico said. “It was the first time I ever made that decision that way. I decided to bet on people and culture and not on industry or business.”
The head of a growing industrial growth company, Lico said he sees his role in part as the “chief optimist,” reasoning that as leader of Fortive, it’s important that he inspire the team with a deep belief in our future and the team.
Fortive has recruited heavily at Darden, with roughly 20 Darden MBAs working in its operating companies.
The company has been a success since spinning off, with a rising stock price and the successful integration of roughly $7 billion worth of M&A activity.
“We’ve had a good couple of years, but we’re working on years five and 10 right now,” Lico said. “What we are doing today is going to make a difference in 2020, 2021 and 2025.”
The University of Virginia Darden School of Business delivers the world’s best business education experience to prepare entrepreneurial, global and responsible leaders through its MBA, Ph.D. and Executive Education programs. Darden’s top-ranked faculty is renowned for teaching excellence and advances practical business knowledge through research. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Director of Media Relations
Darden School of Business
University of Virginia