Professor Seán Meehan is the Martin Hilti Professor of Marketing and Change Management at IMD, Lausanne, Switzerland. He joined IMD in 1997 and since then he has designed and delivered management development programs for companies such as Agricultural Bank of China, Air France-KLM, Caterpillar, COFRA, Geberit, Hilti, Julius Baer, Lindt & Sprüngli, MasterCard International, Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings, PWC, Sandvik, Schindler, Swiss Re, Telefonica, Toyota and Vodafone. He has consulted with many leading companies such as GE, Novartis, Philips, Coloplast, and Masterfood. Seán has directed IMD’s Chief Marketing Officer Roundtable, IMD’s flagship program Orchestrating Winning Performance, IMD’s most Senior Leadership Program Breakthrough Program for Senior Executives and the IMD MBA (2002-2005). In addition, Seán has served on many of IMD’s institutional committees and was Dean of External Relations from 2008 to 2010.

He has been appointed as the next Dean of the IMD MBA taking up that position in January 2018.

He commenced his career with Arthur Andersen in Oil & Gas, Media, Retail and Financial Services. Prior to undertaking doctoral studies at London Business School, he was director of Marketing at Deloitte.

His research interests encompass the nature and effectiveness of customer orientation and customer value creation processes. In addition to developing case materials on Customer Focus issues, he has published in, Harvard Business Review, MIT Sloan Management Review, Business Strategy Review, strategy+business, Marketing Research, Marketing Science Institute Reports, the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal. He has received many awards for his research including the Marketing Science Institute’s Alden G. Clayton award, The Academy of Marketing’s Houghton Mifflin award, the CEEMAN Research Champion award and scholarships from the Economic & Social Research Council and London Business School. He is co-author of Simply Better: Winning and Keeping Customers by Delivering What Matters Most (Harvard Business School Press, 2005) which was named “Marketing Book of the Year” by the American Marketing association and Beyond the Familiar: Long Term Growth Through Customer Focus and Innovation (Jossey Bass, 2011).

Professor Sean Meehan in a interview with Casium

What area of research are you currently working on?
Building the customer-led organization. What is customer-led? How does it differ from customer-centric, customer-focused, or customer-oriented?

A case study that you think is important. Why?
BUSINESS MODEL INNOVATION: MICHELIN FLEET SOLUTIONS – FROM SELLING TIRES TO SELLING KILOMETERS (IMD-5-0793) by Ulaga, Wolfgang; Dalsace, Frédéric; Renault, Chloé. Because it makes complex issues of importance very accessible.

A management book you think highly of (written by someone else). Why? The 12 Powers of a Marketing Leader by Thomas Barta and Patrick Barwise. Because it is well grounded, insightful and full of practical guidance for marketers and businesses seeking to be more customer-led.  The authors offer a point of view on how marketers can more effectively contribute to the success of the business by driving the customer agenda. Their innovative and resource intensive research design is impressive with a very helpful use of a large number CMO interviews to deepen their understanding, validate and enrich their findings from their analysis of the impressive data set they collected and database they accessed. Their findings and recommendations are supported by examples from CMOs and other CXOs of some of the world’s leading companies.

What is one of your well-liked teaching moments (case, discussion topic, …)?
Being forced, by an unkind colleague J, to teach a case I had not only not prepared, I had not read. With the aid only of the guidance “they are trying to choose which route to fly” I found myself in front of 90 exceptionally well prepared MBAs. I marked board with an “X” and a “Y” and asked “ok, who would like to start”. The students drove the case discussion 100%. With the strategy fully articulated, and the dilemma well described and fully explored I handed back to my HR colleague who further explored the more interesting aspects of the case – employee morale and HR policies. Thanks to whoever wrote the Southwest Airlines case – they sparked an interest in the airline industry which I hold 20 years later. It was an amazing learning experience which taught me to trust the students and rely on their insights, to lead with questions and to list to them (not think about the script). Lessons learned for me. An amazing experience and fond memory – but, not recommended and not repeated.

What was your most interesting consulting assignment? Why?
Developing a turnaround/survival strategy for a state-owned bank. Because, unusually, I represented the employees in the multi-stakeholder discussion.

If tomorrow you could occupy an executive function in any company, what function and company? Why?
Turnaround the railway service in almost any country (except Switzerland where it works perfectly). Because doing so would have a direct and material impact on GDP (productivity enhancements for the customer base – imagine millions of folks getting to and from work as planned) and social morale.

Source: IMD website/Casium sources

The Case: Ryanair Strategic Positioning