By George A. Vandeman, Chair
When a colleague first told me about Global Growth last year, I was intrigued. Global Growth, he said, started as a newsletter company that the founder ran from his dorm room during the mid-1990s. It’s now a multi-billion dollar company with operations in more than 20 countries. The company’s holdings are diverse as well: health care, technology, financial services, media, and more.
Unlike many companies, Global Growth hasn’t grown organically from a single idea or a piece of software. Instead, it has grown by purchasing underperforming companies and turning them around within a year. Global Growth’s turnaround success rate is greater than 80 percent across divergent markets. “What’s behind the success?” I wondered. “What is Global Growth?”
When I first met with the leadership team, I began to find the answers to my questions. I was sitting in a room with CEOs and portfolio managers from the US, the UK, Europe, and Asia. I had never worked with a more geographically segregated company. There is diversity of location, nationality, and markets. Even so, there’s an unusual camaraderie among the leaders at Global Growth. They are a group of entrepreneurs held together by common values.
The company’s most distinctive value is its decentralization. There is almost no top-down bureaucracy. The companies are driven by the employees who know their customers best. The holding company is lean, with fewer than 150 employees. And yet, by insisting on a culture of independence and accountability, they had brought 8,500 people together, including me.
When I joined Global Growth as its chairman, I joined a truly global company. We have CEOs in India who have employees in the US and Europe. We have CEOs in Europe who have employees in India and the Philippines. And we have CEOs in the US with employees in Eastern Europe and Central America. And yet, despite this geographical diversity, there is something clearly “Global Growth” about all the leaders I now work with—a set of beliefs:
The world is in a constant process of improvement and we must be too. Change is necessary to serving our customers optimally.
Our employees constantly challenge themselves, stretching and learning to meet the needs of our growing companies.
Meaningless paperwork drives away great people. Therefore, we limit top-down policies and procedures to those necessary to ensure compliance, serve the customer, and improve the lives of our employees.
Global Growth contains multiple portfolios. The portfolios are the engines of the company and drive its growth. While we share a set of values, the customers are served by the portfolios who know them best. They are the essential building blocks of Global Growth.
We are a global company with officers and customers across the world. We respect the cultures and customs of our employees and customers and strive to make them feel equally connected to the company’s mission.
We must be trustworthy, truthful and transparent in all aspects of work. We keep commitments to external and internal parties and hold ourselves strictly accountable.