Gerald Ostrov '71, Former Baush & Lomb CEO, Discusses Leadership and Innovation
Gerald Ostrov '71 recently gave the Enterprise Engineering Colloquium four principles by which to judge a proposed innovation. "It should be unique, be relevant to a target audience, provide value, and entail efficient manufacturing and logistics," he said. He illustrated these principles with specific products with which he has been associated during his career with Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, Ciba-Geigy, and Bausch & Lomb.
Ostrov, who earned an MBA from the Harvard Business School, headed Johnson & Johnson's worldwide vision care businesses for eight years before retiring from the company in 2006. In 2008 he was"coaxed out of retirement" to serve as Chairman and CEO of Bausch & Lomb, where he restructured the business after its sale to private equity investors.
Ostrov described several products that illustrate his four principles: Pringles (recently sold to Kellogg by its originator, Procter & Gamble), Alza's transdermal drug delivery systems, J&J's Acuvue lenses (the subject of a Harvard Business School case), Hepatitis C and HIV detection self-test Orasure technology, and ModifEye focusable reading glasses.
For example, he recounted that the automated molding of contact lenses had been rejected as a manufacturing process by many in the industry as yielding insufficient savings to justify capital investment, before J&J used the process to create a new category of frequent replacement lenses that satisified all four principles. The result was that more Acuvue lenses were sold in their first year (1990-91) than had been sold of all products in the prior history of contact lenses.
Ostrov provided the students with several pithy "leadership thoughts," including "don't believe everything you think" and "good enough is never good enough." He also discussed the Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute, part of the New York City Technology Campus that is being created as a consequence of Cornell's winning a highly publicized competition to create an applied sciences and technology campus in the city. Through his involvement with Israeli innovation in health care, Ostrov learned how valuable a partner the Technion can be to Cornell.