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Driving Purpose From the C-Suite to the Boardroom with Dan Hesse

In 2007, the recently merged Sprint Nextel was only six months away from going bankrupt. But under Dan Hesse, its new CEO, the company focused on a new strategy and internal culture that prioritized employee satisfaction to improve customer experience. This led to Sprint Nextel placing first in the wireless industry in customer satisfaction and ranking in total shareholder return among all S&P 500 companies in his final two years as CEO, 2012 and 2013. 

Dan believed in the power of stakeholder-based capitalism to build culture and drive business success before many of his peers. Now retired from the C-suite (he also served as President and CEO of AT&T), Dan serves on various boards to help companies build and elevate purpose-driven cultures that support ESG commitments. 

We invited Dan, Board Member of JUST Capital, PNC, and Akamai Technologies, to share how purpose remains the driving force behind his leadership, business success, and counsel for companies today.

Listen for Dan’s insights on: 

  • The three things CEOs and boards must do to advance purpose initiatives that build both stakeholder and shareholder value.
  • The biggest barriers to boards embracing purpose as a business strategy, and how leaders can overcome them.
  • The three principles of a culture that creates business success: employees, customers, and purpose.
  • How the role of boards in overseeing purpose has changed and what boards expect in terms of ESG today.
  • How employee input, company values, and culture come together to shape strategic decision-making.

Links & Notes

  • (00:00) – Welcome to Purpose 360
  • (00:13) – Intro to Dan Hesse
  • (02:20) – Who Is Dan Hesse?
  • (03:51) – Four Topics
  • (04:55) – Stakeholder-Based Capitalism
  • (09:36) – Response
  • (10:24) – Senior Team
  • (11:49) – Joining Sprint
  • (19:06) – Six Months
  • (24:43) – Sprint’s Board
  • (26:19) – How Boards View Purpose
  • (32:00) – Barriers
  • (33:21) – Purpose in Conversation
  • (35:05) – Embedding
  • (38:49) – Activism
  • (44:42) – Suggestions for C-Suite Execs
  • (46:56) – Last Thoughts
  • (49:21) – Giving Speeches
  • (50:35) – Wrap Up

Business is an unlikely hero: a force for good working to solve society’s most pressing challenges, while boosting bottom line. This is social purpose at work. And it’s a dynamic journey.

Purpose 360 is a masterclass in unlocking the potential of social purpose to ignite business and social impact. We illuminate the growing impacts of purpose, from engaging employees and fostering deeper consumer loyalty to inspiring product innovation and increasing market share.

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