James Kilts: On Razor's EdgeWilliam Symonds
After Gillette's board asked Michael C. Hawley to resign last October, director Warren Buffett commented that the board was "looking for a .360 or .370 hitter" to be the next chief executive. It may have found one. James M. Kilts, 52, who steps up to the plate on Feb. 12, has an impressive career under his belt, including a turnaround of Nabisco Group.
Kilts confronts monumental challenges at Gillette. Growth is anemic. And while it remains the king of razor blades, its Duracell batteries, Oral-B toothbrushes, and Gillette toiletries lost U.S. market share last year. But Kilts wasn't fazed by similar problems when he became CEO of Nabisco three years ago.
The first outsider to run Gillette in 70 years, Kilts inherits a company dominated by engineers. His first move will likely involve instilling more marketing pizzazz. He's likely to beef up advertising and improve relations with retailers.
Reenergizing Gillette won't be easy. Those who know him say Kilts is the man to do the job. The question is how soon.