||Ward Klein '79
Profile: Ward Klein '79
keeps going and going...
CEO's 'energized' climb to the top takes dedication and
by Nicole Joseph
Ward Klein, CEO of Energizer Holdings Inc., does not exactly
know where the Energizer Bunny is going, or if it's ever going
still trying to catch him," Klein says, laughing.
'79 played an integral role in the launch of the Energizer
Bunny campaign more than 15 years ago when he served as Energizer's
director of marketing for the United States from 1988 to 1990.
He says that his team was "struggling with creative strategies,"
when the idea of the bunny arose, and it has since turned
into one of the most recognizable, successful and long-lasting
drum-toting pink rabbit in sunglasses and flip flops is a
symbol of the perseverance and durability of Energizer batteries
and flashlights --- qualities also shared by the company's
CEO himself who has grown with the company through numerous
changes over the past 25 years.
a way, I've been with the same company for my entire career,"
dedication has paid off. He has held a variety of positions
with the firm, affording him a wealth of opportunities, such
as the chance to explore diverse areas of brand management,
initiate a global business unit for the company and live and
work in Hong Kong.
graduated from St. Olaf College in 1977 with a bachelor of
liberal arts degree, having majored in economics. He immediately
enrolled in the Kellogg School, attracted by the school's
marketing and brand management program.
not in the classroom, he worked as a resident assistant and
residence hall coordinator for Northwestern Undergraduate
Housing to help fund his Kellogg education.
was an RA in a fraternity house," he recalls. "That
was an unusual experience."
graduation, Klein began working with the company that would
eventually lead him to his current position. He worked in
brand management for the cereal and cat food groups at Ralston-Purina,
then turned his expertise to doing acquisition work for the
firm's specialty foods division.
culture of Purina was a very decentralized, 'push decision-making
down' [environment]," Klein says. "I thrived in
this culture. There were opportunities there that kept me
challenged at all times."
Purina acquired Eveready in 1986, Klein moved from food to
batteries. He has remained there through its switch to Energizer
Holdings, and the company's separation from Purina in 2000.
the years, Klein has held many leadership roles at the company,
including vice president of marketing for the United States
from 1992 to1994; area chairman for Latin America in 1996;
and COO for the past year until being named CEO in January.
says this new role presents different challenges and opportunities
compared to his previous situations, since he now must extract
himself somewhat from day-to-day operations and focus on the
corporation as a whole.
of Klein's fondest memories is of his time spent living and
working in Hong Kong from 1998 to 2000, as Energizer's area
chairman for Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
was a very deep learning experience for me and my family,"
he says. "We got to appreciate new points of view. The
freedom to run a corporation like that was a very positive
credits much of his success to his team-leadership skills,
qualities emphasized in the Kellogg
must have very good team-building skills, leadership and listening
skills, an appreciation for diversity, and tolerance,"
he says. "And you must be able to motivate people."
also attributes his success to the fact that he never limited
his career goals.
never actually knew what I wanted to be when I grew up,"
he says with a laugh. "I kept my options open. That approach,
along with my desire to work with people, has been a good