Interview with Robert Eckert, Chairman of the Board and CEO of Mattel, Incorporated

Mattel CEO Talks Leadership and Values for the New Economy

2010 Volume 13 Issue 1

What does it mean to be the CEO of the worldwide leader in toy design, manufacturing, and marketing? When you’re responsible for $6 billion in annual sales, how does your success impact the world at large? How do you stay on top of today’s trends in technology and corporate business practices?

On November 5, 2009, Robert Eckert, Chairman of the Board and CEO of Mattel, Incorporated, visited with David Smith, PhD, Associate Dean of the Graziadio School of Business and Management at Pepperdine University, to answer these questions and more.

Bob joined Mattel in May 2000 from Kraft Foods, Inc. A 23-year veteran of Kraft, he most recently served as its president and chief executive officer. Bob received a BS in business administration from the University of Arizona and an MBA in marketing and finance from Northwestern University. He serves on the McDonald’s Corporation Board of Directors, the J. L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management Advisory Board at Northwestern University, and the Board of Visitors at The Anderson School at UCLA.

Questions for Mr. Eckert

  1. How do you balance your career, family life, and personal needs? How do you address work/life balance with those who report to you?
  2. What was your career plan when you received your MBA?
  3. What are your core responsibilities as a CEO and how do you prioritize?
  4. What is the greatest challenge you’ve faced as a CEO? What have you learned as CEO that has surprised you?
  5. What is your personality type and how does that impact your leadership style?
  6. Today’s employees change jobs more frequently than ever before. How does this trend impact Mattel?
  7. How do concerns over the lack of environmental compliance from China affect Mattel?
  8. How is its business model being impacted by the declining dollar?
  9. In what ways does the success or failure of Mattel products impact the world?
  10. What do you see in the future for the toy industry?
  11. What are your core values as a leader?
  12. What’s the last book you read?
  13. What do you see in terms of your legacy for Mattel?

About the Author(s)

David M. Smith, PhD, is associate professor of economics at the Graziadio School of Business and Management at Pepperdine University. His economic expertise includes the areas of labor pay and productivity, forecasting, and analysis of specific labor markets. A labor economist with an applied focus, Dr. Smith has published numerous articles that have appeared in both academic and practitioner journals. In addition, he has a chapter in an edited volume, a monograph, and published book reviews to his credit. His research on credit unions research has been used in arguments before the US Supreme Court as well as in state legislative hearings. Dr. Smith closely follows current economic trends and has appeared on radio and television and in several newspapers and magazines, including most recently the London Times, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, the New York Times, and the Investor's Business Daily.

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