With the world changing at a rapid pace, businesses require leaders who can quickly adapt to the changing expectations of customers, employees and other stakeholders – and trust is the currency that will enable businesses to be successful. How does building trust impact business? How can companies cultivate it?
In this inaugural episode, Tim Ryan, PwC US Chair and Senior Partner, is joined by Carol Tomé, CEO at UPS. Listen as they discuss the importance of building trust in business, developing talent and navigating transitions in today’s world.
To learn more on the topics discussed today, visit PwC’s Tomorrow Takes Trust commitment.
Tim Ryan is PwC's US Chair and Senior Partner. A forward-thinking leader committed to driving human-led, tech-powered outcomes to build trust in society and solve important problems, Tim has a proven record advancing strategy, growth, innovation, and upskilling. He reimagined PwC leading a complete digital transformation and launching a bold new strategy – The New Equation – to get ahead of the rapid pace of change bringing the best people, capabilities and technology together to support clients in building trust and delivering sustained outcomes. Equity is foundational to Tim’s trust-based leadership – he is also the founder of CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion.
Carol B. Tomé is the Chief Executive Officer of UPS. She is the 12th CEO in the 114-year history of the company. Before joining UPS, Carol served as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of The Home Depot, Inc., one of the world’s largest retailers. She joined the company in 1995 as Vice President and Treasurer.
Find episode transcript below.
00:00:00:23 Welcome to PwC Pulse, a podcast to provide insights to help you solve today's business challenges.
00:00:09:21 I'm Tim Ryan, PwC U.S. Chair and Senior partner, and I'll be today's host. A year ago this week, PwC launched its new global strategy, The New Equation, which fundamentally reimagined our business to help our clients build trust and deliver sustained outcomes.
00:00:26:14 We launched The New Equation because of two fundamental and urgent realities. First, the world is changing at an unimaginable pace, and no entity is immune to disruption. Second, trust is the underpinning of everything we do and everything our society is built upon.
00:00:46:05 As part of that, we created the PwC Trust Leadership Institute to convene a diverse community of executives to explore this evolving world, navigate the complexities, and embrace the opportunities. And our goal as a firm is to help business leaders make bigger, better decisions as we help advance our society together.
00:01:09:02 On this podcast, we'll look to do just that through timely discussions with top business leaders, providing valuable insights to help you solve today's business challenges. With that, I'm thrilled to welcome our first ever guest, Carol Tomé, Carol is the CEO at UPS.
00:01:27:15 She was named the CEO of the 114-year-old company in March of 2020, one week before the COVID 19 outbreak became a global pandemic. She officially stepped into her role in June. Over the last two years, she's led the organization not only in accelerating essential fulfillment services throughout the crisis, but also in rethinking its services in
00:01:52:23 corporate purpose to build accountability and transparency in trust as they prepare for the future. Carol, thank you so much for being here today. It is great to see you and we're really happy to have you today. We're going to talk about some of the issues you're leading at UPS as you look into the year ahead.
00:02:10:06 We'll talk about issues like trust, talent, transition and a number of other factors. But before we do that, maybe we'll do a couple of questions just to get to know you better for our audience. So, if you're okay, I'll jump into those questions.
00:02:22:22 Of course. It's great to be with you, Tim.
00:02:25:01 Thank you, Carol So Carol, the first one is what is your favorite city in the world to visit? And I have a bet. I know the answer on this one.
00:02:31:14 Well, I might surprise you. I think my hometown of Jackson, Wyoming. But actually what…
00:02:36:09 That’s what I would have said!
00:02:37:09 Well, you know, my favorite city to visit as a tourist is Vancouver, Canada. It is so beautiful there.
00:02:44:02 Well, that's great. You surprised me. I still would like to plug for Jackson, but Vancouver is great. What book would you recommend to our audience?
00:02:51:11 I just finished The Digital Matrix by Venkat Venkatraman. It is fantastic.
00:02:57:00 That's great. And then what's your walk up song?
00:03:00:00 I think it would be This One's For the Girls …
00:03:04:04 Love it.
00:03:05:01 by Martina McBride.
00:03:06:04 And then the last question. Who is your inspiration?
00:03:09:22 Oh, gosh, Tim. I'm inspired every day by our over 500,000 UPSers
00:03:15:06 That is amazing, Carol. And as your leader, I know they also look up to you, and I'm going to use that to pivot now to get into one of the first topics I was hoping that we could cover, and that is trust.
00:03:26:19 So as you shared during the pandemic, it was transformative for you and for UPS. You navigated providing an essential service, and what you were doing was very clear. But why was it so clear? How did COVID help you in UPS crystallize your purpose and in turn help build trust with your people and your customers?
00:03:50:22 Well, Tim, I love talking about trust. I love talking about purpose. You know, when the pandemic hit in the spring of 2020, it was chaotic here. We knew we were essential employees. We had to deliver goods to everyone who was sheltering in place, but we didn't have what it took to do it safely.
00:04:09:09 We didn't have the PPE that was necessary to ensure the safety of our UPSers. So, it was a mad dash to get the masks and the gloves and all the protective gear we needed to have to keep our people safe.
00:04:21:01 But we did that because we realized we were essential and we were delivering an unprecedented number of packages every day to customers around the globe in over 220 countries and territories. So, we knew what we were doing, but we hadn't declared our why.
00:04:37:06 And to me, it was really important in this time of unprecedented challenges to declare our why. So, we put together a cross-functional team of UPSers and we said, this is your mission, determine our why. And they did a masterful job of interviewing other UPSers.
00:04:53:04 They interviewed retirees. They interviewed our customers, our suppliers, the communities in which we operate. Now. I'll share it with you. Here it is. Moving our world forward by delivering what matters. I just love that because it encapsulates who we are.
00:05:09:13 It's not just about moving goods, but doing good, too. And that was a real rallying cry for our people, because while many people were at home sheltering in place or working from home, our UPSers got up every day, put on their uniforms, they drove packages and they flew planes around the world.
00:05:27:05 So understanding the purpose was really important to them and to our customers.
00:05:33:00 Carol, that is amazing to see in such challenging times, that purpose bubbling up. And I love the engagement that you had with your different stakeholders to get that. Now, maybe a related topic as we get to trust. Many CEOs, boards, executives, they believe that trust builds from the ground up.
00:05:51:09 As we survey people in our different surveys at PwC what we've found is customers, employees may disagree and they believe it starts at the top down. Maybe your perspective both as a CEO and board member. How do you think the role of the CEO and board plays in building trust?
00:06:07:22 I think we have a critical role in building trust. In today's world, where there's a lack of trust and confidence in our elected officials. Our stakeholders are turning to companies and looking for us to instill that trust, that sense of confidence that things are going to be okay.
00:06:23:21 So we believe we have a responsibility there and we take it so seriously that we establish goals to deliver our strategic initiatives. We measure ourself against those goals and then we report on them so that we are authentic and transparent and not afraid to share bad news.
00:06:42:00 At the same time, we're sharing good news to build that trust in us. Because when you have an army of people like our 500,000 plus UPSers, we can actually deliver upon the trust promise that we make. But it starts at the board.
00:06:58:01 Carol. One of the things that I think our listeners would find amazing. UPS is an amazing company, complex, large, global. Most people don't realize that you operate one of the world's largest airlines and you also operate the world's largest fleet of alternative powered vehicles.
00:07:17:06 Sustainability is a cornerstone to who you are, what you're doing in your strategy and future success. You've set a goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. How do you see this commitment play into building trust with your different stakeholders?
00:07:33:08 We're just not making commitments for the sake of making commitments. We're putting our money and our resources behind the commitments that we've made. So, while we said we would reach carbon neutrality by 2050, we've set milestones along the way.
00:07:47:17 I can share one of those with you. By 2025, 40% of our ground operations will be powered by some sort of an alternate fuel. As you mentioned, we already do that today. We have a rolling laboratory of over 13,000 vehicles that are powered by some sort of an alternate fuel.
00:08:04:13 And get this, Tim, we started to electrify our vehicles back in the 1930s. Now, that wasn't sustainable, but it's something we've always experimented with. For example, we're taking 10,000 electric vehicles from a company in the UK starting this year.
00:08:21:22 So that's one of the measurable goals. Another of the measurable goals is to power all of our buildings by renewable energy. We want to have 25% of our buildings powered by renewable energy by 2025. We're well down the path there.
00:08:35:04 In fact, we have two data centers that power all of our computing activities around the world. Those two data centers are powered by renewable energy. To put that into perspective, that's enough energy to light up 5000 homes. So, we're not just making statements.
00:08:51:20 We're acting against those statements. And I think that's how you build trust.
00:08:56:21 Now, UPS like PwC is also making big investments in its people to stay competitive and its talent. One of the areas that our world is changing and transitioning is around digital, and the world is becoming digital. How have you approached digital transformation at UPS and what do you see going forward?
00:09:17:01 You know, it's really interesting when you unpack the workforce of UPS because the majority of our workers are actually sorting and delivering packages. And we have a number of individuals who are flying planes around the world. In those instances, we use technology to simplify the experience and to drive productivity.
00:09:37:04 So inside of our buildings, we're introducing robotics and automation in ways that we never have before, which is really exciting, I think, for anyone who's working on those projects because you get to work with robots, right? So, it's a very cool place to work.
00:09:52:16 You might think of us as a tracking company, but actually we're more of a technology company. When you think about the automation and robotics that we're introducing into our network. For the people who are in the corporate office, who are working on strategy or marketing or sales or the customer experience, we've really deemed that we need to lift our digital fluency.
00:10:15:00 We've had a pretty good track record of creating a digital experience that is seamless and frictionless. But I would say the fluency of the team broadly isn't where it needs to be.
00:10:27:00 So, we've invested in that in a major way. In fact, we put together a two-week digital fluency-training program with the university here at Atlanta.
00:10:36:00 And I have to tell you, I won't train anybody unless I personally go through the training. So, I didn't go through two weeks. I went through an abridged form of the training. It was awesome. It was fantastic.
00:10:45:00 So, we've got our second cohort that will be graduating from this training program this week. The feedback has been terrific. So, we will put the top of the house, the top 150 leaders through the digital fluency training.
00:10:57:00 And then we're going to take it lower into the organization because I think it is the way of the future. And if anybody's confused by this, the train's already left the station.
00:11:07:10 The world is being consumed by the Internet of Things that everyone needs to think about a simple and frictionless experience for their customer.
00:11:14:08 Carol I love that. I love the tone at the top of you and the top 150 taking that training, embracing it, and using it as a way to say, we did it and we're at different points in our careers.
00:11:23:08 We can do it. At PwC. We've been on a multi-year journey and I was excited during my digital acumen badge, my human centered design badge and nothing beats that experience yourself, and it then gives us the ability to inspire other people within our organization to do it as well.
00:11:37:19 What I love about it is we're also raising the skills of our employees that make them more relevant, more confident in a world that's changing fast. But we give them security that we're investing in them. So, thank you for that leadership. It so good
00:11:50:02 Yeah. I'm happy to do that. I think it's so important for our people, isn't it? You know, those folks that are moving packages inside of our buildings. I'm like, come on, we've got an IT University. If you have a propensity to code, I'll teach you how to code.
00:12:02:06 I need a lot of coders here, and I taught myself how to code in Python. It's just a language. We can teach you how to code. We can give you a different opportunity to grow your career other than just moving packages around.
00:12:12:22 I love it, Carol, and it is a perfect pivot to the last topic. So, we talked about trust. We talked about the transitions happening in our world and it gets to something I know you're very passionate about which is talent.
00:12:24:05 The world is changing. We have more jobs than we have employees in many cases, or people to fill opportunities out there. Talent is hugely important to you. You've often said that you're a people led organization. What does that mean to you when you say people led? How does that come out at UPS?
00:12:41:12 So, in a couple of different ways. You know, I was very fortunate to spend the majority of my career at the Home Depot where I started working for the founders of that company, Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank.
00:12:52:09 And they taught me the importance of the inverted pyramid management construct, where the leaders are at the bottom of the pyramid and the workers, the people of the company are at the top of the pyramid. The leaders are at the bottom of the pyramid because we bear the weight for the actions that we take and the decisions that we make.
00:13:08:00 We bear that weight to free our people up, to grow their careers. So, for me, people led is about being a servant leader, putting the people and their needs in front of mine and certainly the leadership team.
00:13:22:23 It's also about creating an environment where you want to be, this is the best place to work and that, you know, the likelihood to recommend would be at a record high level.
00:13:31:04 I had to tell you the truth, Tim. When I started here a couple of years ago, our likelihood to recommend was only 51%. I was not happy with that.
00:13:39:03 I'm like, No, no, no. That is not what I want to stand for. And we set a goal of 80%. We are not there, but we've moved the needle in a big way. Our likelihood to recommend now stands at 61%.
00:13:51:01 So, we've got a ways to go. But we are committed to creating this place to be the best place to work, a place where you can reach your highest potential, whatever that may be. You may remember that I was retired for a little bit before I came back to work and took this amazing opportunity.
00:14:09:13 And one of the reasons I came out of retirement is I love to develop people. I love it. It just brings joy. And so to me, people led is serving them, investing in them and helping them reach their highest potential, whatever it may be.
00:14:24:17 Carol. The idea that you learned at Home Depot in that amazing organization that you brought to UPS employees first, creating an environment where they can be successful, they can realize their full potential. That's novel thinking. But I think, would you say that's necessary thinking in the days going forward? In the years going forward?
00:14:44:09 Well, maybe I'm biased, but I can't imagine it being any other way. There's a war on talent right now, and if we want the best and brightest working for us and we do, we have to think about our people first.
00:14:58:19 I couldn’t agree more, brings me to another thing I know you're passionate about the idea of delivering what matters. What does that mean for employees in this concept of impactful jobs? How do you think about that at UPS?
00:15:11:23 Yeah. For sure, we're working on some really interesting things. As I mentioned, we're working on robotics. We're working on enterprise data strategy. We're working on the UPS digital delivery, which is sort of investing on the edge and disrupting ourselves.
00:15:24:14 And we're working on some really cool things. So, that's part of having an impactful job. But there's more to it. It's about giving back. It's about making a difference in the communities that we serve. I am so proud of our UPSers who volunteer of their own time to give back to the communities we serve around the world.
00:15:44:13 That could be providing, mentoring or supporting educational programs for youth at risk to planting trees. I mean, our people are engaged in the community because that gives them joy. It makes their lives richer. We also are proud of our philanthropic efforts.
00:16:01:13 We have a foundation that's been with us for now 70 years. And through the foundation, we're focused on health and humanitarian efforts, on economic empowerment, on local engagement, and then, of course, on the planet. And that helps enrich your job, too.
00:16:15:13 And, you know, the company that you work for is giving back of its money, not just of its time. So we're super proud of that. And one of the things that we were most proud of during the pandemic is we have a commercial health care logistics business, and we delivered a lot of vaccines commercially.
00:16:31:00 But we also delivered a lot of vaccines philanthropically. And delivered vaccines using cool technology like drones in parts of the world like Rwanda. If that doesn't give you joy, if that doesn't make your job feel like it's more impactful. Well, I don't know what does.
00:16:47:06 Carol, it's amazing. And I know when I got a chance to visit you in Atlanta, I thanked you and your 500,000 employees for the work that you did during the pandemic. But I want to say it again as well, because it is tremendous.
00:16:56:20 You get chills up your spine because that is purposeful which brings me to my second to last question. Many talk about purpose and organization. Talent strategies are evolving and developing. Why is it so important for employers to evolve their talent strategies to bring purpose to the forefront for their employees? Like why?
00:17:17:19 It's how you get the best out of people. We all need to declare our personal purpose, you know. And I talk to the team a lot about what will your tombstone read. Now, that's an interesting question because many of us like me, I won't have a tombstone.
00:17:31:07 But, you know, we talk about it a lot. What do you want your legacy to be? What do you want it to be? And when you declare it, how can we help you get there? And legacy will be different for each of us.
00:17:42:14 It will. Our DNA is unique. So, our legacy will be unique, but declare it and then let us help you get there. And we can do that through our philanthropic arm. We can do that through educational assistance. We can do that through rotational assignments.
00:17:55:17 The one thing at UPS is you can have a lot of different careers here at UPS, just given the scale and scope of our business. So, purpose is really important for personal development and satisfaction. There's too much mental anguish in the world, we all know.
00:18:11:14 That's right. And it's been exacerbated over the past couple of years. But you land on purpose, you can work through that.
00:18:19:15 So, it's funny. I like to think of it not as a tombstone, but your retirement party. And one CEO said to me, Tim, at our retirement parties, we don't talk about percentage increase in sales or gains in market share.
00:18:32:17 What we talked about is how we made people feel, how we helped other people rise up, realize their full potential. I think that's what you're talking about.
00:18:40:11 It is what I'm talking about. And, you know, I've been really self-reflective on this over the past couple of years and have actually landed on a new purpose for me. And I'll share with you it's lead to inspire, serve to create, give to remain.
00:18:55:01 Because I'm like, why am I here? Why did I come out of retirement? Why am I here? But it's pretty clear I'm here to inspire our people. I'm here to create and invest in them and create leaders. And I'm here to give, to remain.
00:19:08:21 Carol, I cannot think of a better piece of advice than what you just shared. And thank you for sharing that. I'll come to my last question now.
00:19:17:09 You have had an incredibly impactful career at Home Depot and now at UPS, arguably in the most important time in the company's history and the ability to impact the world. When you look at the next year, what are you most excited about for UPS going forward in the next year?
00:19:33:22 Yeah, so we are looking at the company legacy. What do we want to leave behind is the company legacy and it of course starts with purpose and then performance. I'm a big believer in delivering on the commitments we make, the financial commitments we make, and so far we've done so good on that.
00:19:50:07 It's all about people and people development, and then platforms. And platforms is laying out the rails for the future. Some of those rails will reach the train station sooner than later. Some will be long in coming. For example, carbon neutrality.
00:20:03:22 We won't reach that until 2050. So, I'm excited about leaning into these rails to lay out the tracks for the future. One of those is what we're calling UPS Digital Delivery, which is from click to doorstep. We are investing in the creation of a digital platform that's going to transform the logistics industry.
00:20:24:13 I'm super excited about what that's going to mean for the future in terms of experiences for our customer and value created for our shareholders.
00:20:33:05 I'm also super excited about what we're doing with health care logistics. We will be a $10 billion health care logistics company next year on our way to $20 billion.
00:20:41:15 It's so exciting to think about the power of culling logistics. Nobody's better than we are than that. So, that's going to be a real leg of growth for us and just fun to work for a company that's growing.
00:20:51:01 It's great to work for a company with purpose and doing good, but you like to grow too. And we like to win. We love to win in the marketplace and we've been winning a lot. So, I'm excited about the opportunity to continue to win in the next year.
00:21:03:00 Carol, what's exciting about growth is when a company is growing, it's creating advancement opportunities, promotion opportunities, career opportunities to develop. And I thank you for that focus because it really drives a great experience for employees. You've been great with your time.
00:21:16:03 We talked about trust and I want to thank you for the courage to be trustworthy and transparent. You said something earlier, which is when you don't get it right. When we make a mistake, we talk about it. And that takes courage.
00:21:27:04 It's easy to talk about trust, it is a lot harder to do it. Thank you for that. Also, it takes courage to be a company in transition, going to a healthcare company, going to a digital company. And we talked about the importance in transition.
00:21:37:18 And lastly, your passion for talent. Thank you for the focus on talent people because they make organizations like UPS go. It's really great to have you. Thank you so much for being here and best of your time.
00:21:48:01 Well, it was my pleasure, Tim. Thank you for the conversation.
00:21:51:11 Yeah, thank you, Carol. And to our listeners, thank you for tuning in for this inaugural episode. We hope that this was helpful for you as you build your own strategies around trust, talent and much more.
00:22:05:17 Please visit PwC.com for even more information on these topics as well as PwC’s tomorrow takes trust commitment. We look forward to you joining us again soon. Please take care.
00:22:16:18 Thank you for joining us on the PwC Pulse podcast. Subscribe to PwC Pulse wherever you listen to your podcasts or visit PwC.com/PulsePodcast to hear our next episodes.
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