U.S. Business Head of HR, Prudential Financial; Former Executive VP & Chief Human Resources Officer, National Football League
In his six seasons as executive vice president and chief human resources officer for the National Football League, Robert Gulliver T’97 has helped manage the NFL through some major cultural shifts: a push for more diverse head coaches, a re-thinking of NFL values in the wake of the Ray Rice domestic violence controversy, and most recently a major initiative to bring more women into executive roles.
And this is just the latest chapter in his 20-year career in human resources, at companies like Citigroup and Wells Fargo. Here he shares his tips on how to shape the culture in an organization.
Prioritize diversity. While there are times to allow things to be organic, diversity is an area where it’s important for leadership to be intentional and vocal. We recently expanded the NFL’s “Rooney Rule”: when there’s a head coach or general manager opportunity, at least one diverse candidate has to be considered. Now for all executive-level jobs at the NFL League Office, we must consider at least one woman.
Create a “truth to power” environment. The NFL is very consensus driven, and we work to find common ground in driving change. But at the same time, it’s critical that the leadership of any company fosters an environment where employees feel comfortable putting their voices in the room, and it’s okay to respectfully disagree.
Think of leaders as coaches. We talk a lot about our leaders throughout the organization as “coaches,” and coaches are essentially teachers. They provide those on the team with candid feedback, and they’re the people who can drive and affect change. Coaching is a literal part of football, but it’s a valuable metaphor for any business.
Win hearts and minds. Make the business case for change, but also work to win the hearts and minds of those who can help drive and influence change.
Look for high EQ in your hires. I find the people who are most successful as leaders have the technical expertise and excellence required and combine that with good people skills. They have high emotional intelligence—EQ—as well as high IQ.
Listen and understand. Our leadership team realizes that it doesn’t have all the answers. We’re doing a lot of listening. Two seasons ago, we had some challenges related to domestic violence and sexual assault, and we rolled out an enhanced personal conduct policy to better address these societal issues within our community. That wasn’t simply a top-down edict. We took a step back and listened, conducting focus groups, interviews, and discussions with players, owners, executives, employees and experts in the field. In addition, we used this moment to rearticulate the NFL values from the vantage of the people who are living them.
There’s no one best source of ideas. We recently rolled out what we’re calling an “employee hack.” It’s a page out of the tech world’s hackathons where programmers get together for a short, intense period to find new ways to solve problems. We’re pulling together a bunch of our employees who have great ideas and asking them how we can move the needle on our culture. What are the “even better if...” opportunities to live the NFL values day in and day out? It’s a deliberate act to create a forum for dialogue, ideas, insights, and brainstorming.
Value competitors’ ideas. One of the most important focuses for us is diversity, and five years ago I joined with a group of sports and media diversity experts with the goal of sharing best practices. Diversity is one of those areas where a rising tide lifts all boats. It’s been a productive forum, and we continue to meet annually.
How to Be a Successful Operations Leader
To succeed in operations, says ZOE COO Nicole Xu T’11, you need the short-term vision to run the business day-to-day, but you also need to be able to think three to five years ahead to build for the future.Read More
Improving Financial Health in the COVID-Era
Prudential President Jamie Kalamarides T'94 on how to improve your financial health during the COVID-19 era.Read More
Melissa Llarena T’10 on Feeling Empowered Amid Uncertainty
As a career coach and host of the An Interview with Melissa Llarena podcast, Melissa Llarena T’10 is driven by helping marketers and creative professionals rediscover their sellable strengths.Read More
How to Create a Customer-First Culture
Alison Elworthy T’11, SVP of customer success at HubSpot, offers advice on how to put customers first—no matter the size of your organization.Read More
How to Build Your Personal Leadership Style
Successful leaders develop their own authentic and personal leadership style, says long-time PetSmart CEO David Lenhardt T’96.Read More
Peter Lengyel T’64 always knew he wanted to work in the movie business, but it took him nearly 35 years of working in finance to get there.Read More
Despite having no formal training in film, Jim Butterworth T'91 co-founded NakedEdge Films, a production company whose documentaries have earned an Oscar, two duPonts, and four Emmy nominations.Read More
As a consumer and retail reporter for CNBC, Lauren Hirsch T'12 covers transformative corporate events of the country’s biggest retailers and consumer packaged goods companies.Read More
When Jeffrey Hirsch T’99 was hired by Starz in 2015, his task was essentially to fix things—and the fix is working.Read More
Carey Albertine T'05 is changing media for the better, starting with books made for children and young adults.Read More
By taking extra time to research and develop ideas and lean on fellow writers as a sounding board, Greg Thompson T'92 figured out a way to write on his own.Read More
Christine Amirian T'96 likes to be challenged and try new things, so in 2016, she took another leap and accepted a job at The Walt Disney Company.Read More
As the vice president for Latin America and the Caribbean, Andrei Belyi T'01 leads TechnoServe’s mission of providing business solutions to poverty in 11 countries.Read More
Nykia Wright T'09, an Atlanta native and newcomer to the news business, comes to the job with a background in consulting, the instincts of a problem-solver, and a work ethic honed from childhood.Read More
At the 2018 Super Bowl, Russell Wolff T’94 was sitting between his wife, a fellow Tuck alum, and a VIP client. Wolff, the executive vice president and general manager of ESPN+, takes a lot of clients to sporting events. It’s part of his job description.Read More
What if learning how to play golf could mean the difference between advancing your business career and not? That’s the thinking that Leslie Andrews T’90 has built her business on.Read More
Soccer has long been a part of the life of Peter Grieve T’84. He played soccer growing up and at the U.S. Naval Academy. After graduating in 1977, he spent five years in the U.S. Marine Corps as an infantry officer. Then, he had a decision to make: law school or business school?Read More
Kurt Zwald T’12 is walking through an empty Fenway Park on a Tuesday evening. It’s not always this quiet at his workplace. “When we have 38,000 fans in the ballpark—that energy from the fans is really what invigorates me every day to come to work.” Zwald says.Read More
Fay Gosiengfiao T’11, VP of finance for the NBA, never set out to work in sports. It was never part of her master plan.Read More
Ask Kevin Demoff D'99, T'06 what he loves most about his job, and he’ll tell you that it’s that feeling he gets standing on the sidelines of an NFL game, watching 75,000 fans cheer at once.Read More
Growing up in North Carolina, Catie Griggs D’03, T’09 was a goalkeeper for her soccer team. She loved the sport but she never imagined that one day, she’d have a career on the business side of professional soccer.Read More
How to Keep Your Company Data Secure
What Alison Connolly T’11 finds fascinating, most corporate leaders find terrifying. The director of strategic partnerships at DarkOwl is an expert on the darknet.Read More
How to Make a Successful Startup Pitch
In her seven years as a venture partner at LaunchCapital in Cambridge, Mass., Heather Onstott T’07 has heard about 1,000 pitches from startups.Read More
Marketing a Disruptive Brand
Together, two Tuck alumni, Kate Jhaveri T’03 and Michael Aragon T’01, led marketing and innovation at the growing global brand Twitch.Read More
Alex Smith T’99 has always been a major sports fan. So when a fellow alumnus called about a job at ESPN, he jumped at the opportunity.Read More
How to Promote Diversity and Nurture Talent
After Tuck, Suzanne Schaefer T’02 went into management consulting, figuring that eventually she might connect with a particular industry—to her surprise, she instead felt a strong pull toward recruiting and talent development.Read More
Gibson “Gib” Biddle
NerdWallet's Gib Biddle T'91 came to Tuck as a marketer, but then realized he was more of a builder.Read More
For Tom Christie T’85, the COO of Showtime, show business has been the proving ground for an unforgettable lesson from Tuck.Read More
David Chemerow D'73, T'75 uses big data to watch what you’re watching.Read More
Not many people in ball bearing sales finish their careers in venture capital. For Mike Carusi T’93, now one of the most successful health care investors in Silicon Valley, that unlikely journey started with two eye-opening years at Tuck.Read More
Bill Achtmeyer T’81 has worked with hundreds of senior executives at Fortune 500 companies and shares five pieces of advice for managing a large organization effectively.Read More
On Establishing Your Personal Brand
Helen Kurtz T’97, chief marketing officer and senior vice president of Foster Farms, Inc. talks establishing your personal brand.Read More
Tips for Transforming Your Career
After positions of increasing seniority at Morgan Stanley, McKinsey, and JPMorgan, Kate Grussing T’91 decided she wanted to transform her career by helping others transform theirs.Read More
Disruption doesn’t scare Roger Lynch T’95. Since leaving Tuck, he has headed three industry-changing companies and continues to innovate at the intersection of media, technology, and developing new markets.Read More
On the Rewards of Nonprofit Board Service
Amy Houston T’97 was inspired to attend Tuck after seeing firsthand how a board with for-profit management experience can help a nonprofit, and she kept this lesson in mind when she joined the Robin Hood Foundation.Read More
As general manager, North America soccer for Nike, Andrea Perez T’08 is sharing the transformative power of athletics with anyone who has ever wanted the opportunity to play. Just like she did.Read More
After a successful career in everything from finance to manufacturing, Gene Hornsby T'73 is now the vice president of the Firebirds, a Cape Cod Baseball League team.Read More
How Small Businesses Can Use Online Marketing Tools
After gaining experience at several software startups, Gail Goodman T’87 launched her own in 1999. As CEO of Constant Contact, Goodman has helped more than a half-million small-business customers navigate a rapidly evolving industry.Read More
Eduardo Pokorny T'01 Pokorny is the newly appointed chief financial officer for the Spanish-speaking businesses of ESPN Latin America.Read More