UPS CEO on Innovation: ‘Stay Grounded in Core Values, But Focus on the Future’

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CEOs on INNOVATION
This interview is from our CEOs on Innovation report, in the Fall 2017 issue of Innovation Leader magazine.
David Abney started working for UPS as a part-time package loader in 1974 while earning his bachelor’s degree from Delta State University; he became CEO 40 years later. UPS’s 96,000 vehicles and 500 aircraft serve more than 220 countries and territories. Last year’s revenues were $61 billion—a record.

How would you say you divide your time between working on short-term, medium-term, and long-term business issues—what McKinsey calls Horizon 1, Horizon 2, and Horizon 3?

My job involves balancing priorities and dividing my time between all three horizons. I am particularly focused on our long-term strategies. We have a long history of optimizing for maximum efficiency. In the end, one person can’t generate the best solution alone. The trick is to surround yourself with smart partners you can trust to help you prioritize the short-, medium-, and long-term strategies and related investments. That’s how I do it, or I should say, that’s how we do it.

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