Bill Sullivan, CEO of Agilent Technologies is a Chief Engagement Officer

In my quest to highlight CEO’s that are truly game changers, believers & practitioners of the thoughts and concepts written in this space, I came across Bill Sullivan of Agilent Technologies.

What a gem!

If you’ve never heard of Agilent Technologies, a few fast facts:

  • Agilent at its core is a measurement solutions company focusing on Electronic Measurement,  Chemical Analysis and Life Sciences
  • It was a spin-off of Hewlett-Packard (officially) in 2000
  • There are roughly 18,500 employees worldwide with headquarters in Santa  Clara, California
  • Revenues are appproximately $5.4b for FY2010
  • Bill Sullivan was appointed CEO in March of 2005

As the “world’s premier measurement company“, it’s not hard to understand why Bill has ensured his transformation efforts at Agilent included measurement itself.

But it starts with his people.

sullivan2-200x300In Bill’s eyes, the people of Agilent are its greatest asset. So much so, Agilent has stated that one of its strategic priorities involves all of its employees to:

create a culture of people who thrive in a high performance, results-oriented company based on a foundation of uncompromising integrity, speed and innovation.”


It gets better.

Bill’s passion for his people extends to the company dashboard. There are four quadrants that make up the relative success of the company: customer satisfaction, markets, financial … and employees, leadership & culture.

I know.

Totally cool.

In my mind, as a “Chief Engagement Officer”, Bill has recommended and/or approved a whole host of options that help drive overall leadership and culture for the employees of Agilent.

For example, Agilent surveys all employees twice a year and benchmarks against the top quartile of external data points to assess whether their leadership development and culture practices are hitting the mark. They built out a leadership framework that was developed to ensure clarity and consistency of behaviours and practice throughout the organization, but it was developed for all employees and at a level that everyone would understand.

Want even cooler?

Bill teaches in a hugely successful internal leadership development business simulation program for Agilent’s 400+ senior leaders. That’s right, Bill rolls up his sleeves, and puts his reputation on the line as ‘CEO’ to ensure leaders see him walking the talk, being engaging, and driving the high performing culture quest of Agilent. Furthermore, to ensure organizational capabilities and to build teams, Bill insists that collaboration be rampant throughout the org, and that open and transparent communication be applied at all times.

The results?

  • 20% operating profit (highest in Agilent’s history)
  • Highest employee leadership survey scores ever
  • #1 customer satisfaction and loyalty score
  • Total Shareholder Return is now greater than S&P 500 for healthcare, industrial and IT indices

Is an open, engaging and results driven model working for Agilent? Is Bill a Chief Engagement Officer?

I dare you to say no.




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4 comments on “Bill Sullivan, CEO of Agilent Technologies is a Chief Engagement Officer”

  1. The fact that Bill puts his money where he mouth is and actually teaches in the leadership development program says it all: supporting leadership development is one thing, putting himself in front of the leaders to model the behaviour he wants to see in a teachable way is on a completely different level.

    Inadvertently he’s also modelling the behaviour other CEOs can follow to show that they truly understand that the leverage derived from investing in people is one of the greatest ROI’s available to an organization.

  2. My admiration about Agilent goes to the fact that they did take the risk to trust the public media.
    Speaking about the Hand-held DMM division.

    And they did past the test successfully for now.

  3. Really refreshing to hear how a CEO rolls up his sleeves and goes out on the filed to contribute and influence outcomes.  Talk about a vision of work, culture of giving and setting the example by walking the talk… This goes without say that act of delegation of crucial tasks to others is not always healthy and does not represent the true intentions of the one delegating. Some key messages will be lost in translation when someone else carries out our most desired actions.

    In fact, delegating can be seen as a quality in management however in this case, this CEO demonstrates clear good judgment as to when was the right time to stop delegating and do things  himself.   He probably felt that the true message of passion can only be carried out by himself. 

    Chapeau Mr Sullivan

Hey! I'd love to read what you think. Surely you have an opinion. Love, Dan.