Leadership Profile – Sanjay Jha Co-CEO of Motorola

Sanjay Jha Co-CEO of Motorola

Sanjay Jha Co-CEO of Motorola

When I discovered a month ago that Verizon Wireless was getting an Android device by the end of the year, I became very excited. I had been sitting on a contract renewal for some time now but did not want to renew just yet because there really weren’t any cool phones available from Verizon. Historically, Verizon has always had the lamest phones of any major carrier but almost everyone on Kauai has Verizon so it is so hard to give up that free In-Network calling. I started digging up as much information about it as possible and learned that it was Motorola that would be putting out the phone. Along with all the info about the Sholes, now called the Droid, I kept reading similar stories about how Motorola is now positioned to regain its prominence it had lost since they released the insanely popular RAZR and that it was all due to their new CEO Sanjay Jha.

Being someone who a) is obsessed with almost all things business and b) someone obsessed with obtaining this new Motorola phone, I started digging for info about Mr. Jha and I can honestly say that while he is one of (if not the #1) the highest paid CEOs in the nation, he is looking to be worth everything his is earning. Here is what I like about his leadership style:

1. He can read through the BS - When Mr. Jha first came aboard as CEO of Motorola’s Handheld division, he had meetings with his top executives and asked them to give presentations of what they thought was wrong with the company. What he deduced from all the fluff and finger pointing were that the leadership were the problem. He quickly did away with the hierarchical company structure of separate departments and department executives and created central groups for engineering, marketing, product management, planning, etc coupled with council groups which would work out the problems. Without a department head, there is no “one throat to choke” if something goes wrong, this lead to everyone working harder for each other and striving for the same goal instead of inter-department competition.

2. He’s not afraid to pull the trigger - Mr. Jha has only been with Motorola for a little over a year, yet he has made numerous company changing decisions. Almost all of them hard decisions and most other persons in his position would shy away from to defer blame if something were to go wrong. He realized that Motorola had lost focus, they had a hit phone with the RAZR years ago but the company was now inundated with phones that were either using technology that would be gone in a few years or phones that consumers just didn’t want. He cut Motorola’s entire Symbian (Nokia OS) line and all their outside contractors. When Microsoft failed to deliver changes to their mobile OS, he put all his chips into Google’s Android platform. Many of these decisions lead to massive losses earlier this year but he understands that when your company is in survival mode, you need to cut the fat. Since then, Motorola posted better than expected earning in the 3rd quarter and is in potion to make a more noticeable comeback post holiday season.

3. He makes his decisions with logic and reason - When deciding which processor chip to use in the Droid, Mr. Jha had the choice between the chip his team developed during his time at Qualcomm, or the faster TI OMAP. He chose the OMAP despite the fact he still had many close friends and colleagues at Qualcomm. The same logic applied to firing excess staff. If there were no future in those phones, the company could not afford to keep them on board. Many people will often choose to make the emotional decision rather than the logical one because its simply easier. Though easier, its often not the right choice.

4. He hits his benchmarks - When he came aboard Motorola, Mr. Jha knew his company needed a product that could compete with the iPhone or it would not even stand a chance in the coming years. He set out to deliver two smart phones that could do just that by Christmas of 09. With the recent launch of the CLIQ on T-Mobile and the upcoming DROID release on Verizon, he has delivered on schedule. This shows how effective he has been in getting his team to execute efficiently and effectively.

It is extremely rare that I admire anyone in corporate America. I usually consider them overpaid and incapable but Sanjay Jha has joined a very small group of CEOs that I openly admire. I think he has done a phenomenal job in turning around Motorola not only in terms of getting new exciting phones out but also creating a company culture that is key to the long term success of the business

Will the DROID save Motorola? No one can really say for sure until it is all done, Sanjay Jha has gone all in with the bet and the future for Motorola hasn’t looked this promising in years.

References:

NY Times – Strategy of new Chief at Motorola Appears Posed to Pay Off

NY Times – How Sanjay Jha Overhauled Motorola’s Culture

Business Week – Motorola’s Promising Comeback