Call it a double celebration: As Proctor & Gamble executive A.G. Lafley was celebrating his 30th wedding anniversary in San Francisco in 2000, a telephone call from Cincinnati temporarily disrupted the merrymaking. It was a board member at the headquarters, offering Lafley the job of CEO at the consumer goods giant.
A 23-year P&G loyalist, Lafley had no reason to turn down the offer. If anything, he was more than ready to run things from the top. After graduating from Hamilton College in 1969, Lafley began working on his PhD in Medieval and Renaissance history at the University of Virginia. But he quit and joined the Navy, which would take him to Japan. Returning from his tour of duty, Lafley began his MBA at Harvard Business School.
In 1977, Lafley entered P&G as a brand manager for Joy dish detergent, and was responsible for introducing to households across America liquid Tide in 1984. A decade later, he would head the Asian division and then, later, the company's North American operations.
Under his stewardship, P&G is going through a period of renewed growth. Lafley's approach, taking the company's signature asset of brand management, was to make the P&G name more flexible and expansive. The strategy has proven to work, judging from the company's rising stock price.
Lafley is married to his wife Margaret, and they have two children.