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The Handy Guide to the Gurus of Management
Charles Handy was, for many years, a professor at the London Business School. He is now an independent writer and broadcaster. He describes himself, these days, as a social philosopher.
Sao Paulo
São Paulo, Brazil
Episode 11: Ricardo Semler- biography

Ricardo Semler's company, Semco, manufactures pumps, high volume dishwashers, cooling units for air conditioners. It does all this in the difficult economic conditions of Brazil.

In his book 'Maverick', Ricardo describes how he took over as chief executive of the company from his father at the beginning of the eighties, when he himself was not yet twenty, straight out of Harvard.

He started out by doing things the traditional way, wielding the corporate axe to cut a failing organization into shape. He ran the company himself, from the top, with tight disciplines and controls. The stress he created was enormous.

Semler himself was being physically destroyed by the workaholic lifestyle he had to adopt. Something had to give. And it did! Semler's sickness forced him to make a dramatic change to his work patterns, more than that, he had to rethink his whole way of managing the business.

Ricardo has been voted Brazil's Leader of the Year and Latin American Businessman of the Year and has served as Vice President of the Federation of Industries of Brazil.

'Managing Without Managers', Harvard Business Review, 1999
'Maverick', Warner Books, 1993
'Why My Former Employees Still Work for Me', Harvard Business R., 1994

Back to Ricardo Semler

More useful words :

took over
to gain control over and responsibility for something

chief executive

executive or manager in charge of a company

wielding the corporate axe
using the power to cut costs and jobs in a company


workaholic lifestyle
a way of living where a person works all the time and is unhappy when not working

had to give
had to bend or stretch under pressure

dramatic change
exciting and unusual, like something that could happen in drama, a noticeable change

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