Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Road Not Taken: The Papal CEO

Pope Benedict is retiring.  So the religious, politicos, and newsy folks await for the Vatican smoke to announce the new Catholic CEO. I thought it would be timely to share a couple water-cooler thoughts on how Vatican CEOship compares to a corporate CEOship.

As Pope, Benedict was "CEO" of over 500,000 employees (410,000 priests, 5,000 bishops, 40,000 deacons, 180 cardinals, and 55,000 nuns) and held official operations  in 195 countries around the world.  (I could only find two countries that either reject the authority of the Vatican (China) or ban the religion (Saudi Arabia) outright. Size of the Catholic market:  1.2 Billion. Of course, a good chunk of these Catholics are not loyal customers. But, some anecdotal evidence suggests there is more loyalty than you might first think.  For example, in the USA where practicing rates are among the lowest in the world, 9/10 Catholics still make their first communion, the principle act of the religion's worship. Moreover, globally, more than 25,000,000 new Catholics make their first communion every year, and many repeat the Catholic sacrament every week.

Now let's hit a direct comparison with a global organization that has powerhouse brands.  Since Benedict was a German, let's draw his comparison to the Martin Winterkorn, the Chief Executive Officer (and Chairman) of Volkswagen.  Volkswagen here refers the Volkswagen Group which includes subsidiaries Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche, SEAT, Skoda, Volkswagen, MAN, Scania, Ducati and VW Commercial vehicles. Average number of employees at the VW conglomerate last year: 454,000. Total number of new cars sold in 2011 from the VW group: 8.2 million in 153 countries. From an employee, geographical reach, and customer base perspective, this job is a demotion from Papal CEOship. But don't fear for Winterkorn.  He's not eligible for the demotion (at 64 he is too young to be Pope!), and his compensation last year based on  pretty good performance  was €12,926,206.

Lamborghini or Popemobile?

Soon we'll hear about the smoke announcing the new pope. And when you see him for the first time, think of the what he might be doing if he taken the corporate route. Then think this, would CEOs like Winterkorn ever want to take on the Vatican CEO job that forbids luxury and a super hot trophy wife?

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