“I have a lot of love for the company. It’s an icon in the Netherlands. For me, bringing it back to relevance was the justification to take whatever tough decision we had to,” he is quoted as saying. “The best proof is the brand is stronger, the value of the company is stronger and we are growing.”
As evidence of Philips’ willingness to invest in its relevance as a company committed to improving people’s health and well-being through meaningful innovation, Frans points to the company’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. That response included EUR 100 million investments to scale up production of products and solutions to help diagnose, treat, monitor, and manage COVID-19 patients.
“Normally it would have taken a year or longer. Because we are all acting as an operating company, that helps a lot, because then all your functions work in sync,” he is quoted as saying.
The interview also touches on Frans’ personal experiences, highlighting that ‘one of Frans van Houten’s earliest memories of Philips is an electronic calculator shown to him as a child in the 1960s by his father, who worked in the Dutch company’s research laboratories.’ Asked to elaborate, Frans says: “He always came home with the most fantastic prototypes. He also came home with stories around innovations that didn’t work. And that was also fascinating — how do you make inventiveness work?”
The FT’s How to Lead interviews are a prestigious section of the newspaper that focuses on a particular leadership challenge a business leader has confronted.