How a $26 Billion Industrial Company Guards Against Disruption

08 October 2018

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.”


About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business prepares responsible global leaders through unparalleled transformational learning experiences. Darden’s graduate degree programs (MBA, MSBA and Ph.D.) and Executive Education & Lifelong Learning programs offered by the Darden School Foundation set the stage for a lifetime of career advancement and impact. Darden’s top-ranked faculty, renowned for teaching excellence, inspires and shapes modern business leadership worldwide through research, thought leadership and business publishing. Darden has Grounds in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the Washington, D.C., area and a global community that includes 18,000 alumni in 90 countries. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.


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