Thursday, March 31, 2011


Some CEOs, when faced by disaster, seem almost paralyzed by indecision and hide from the press. Not Sony CEO Howard Stringer.

Despite the fact that he had just endured a 12-hour flight from Tokyo to New York — while suffering from a slipped disk — Stringer took charge instantly and was on the phone with his senior management team, “who had already started putting into place pre-established strategies for dealing with a major earthquake,” according to a recent report in The New York Times.

Everyone in Sony had a role to play…and they played it beautifully. From the U.S., Stringer marshaled various Sony departments — e.g., human resources, communications, corporate philanthropy —and wrote an inspirational email to all 167,900 Sony employees worldwide. Meanwhile, Sony's vice chairman, Ryoji Chubachi, and two senior managers in charge of manufacturing and logistics focused on Japan, rescuing stranded employees and delivering water, food and other necessities. Immediately after his surgery, Stringer returned to his command post, helping to push through a $3.6 million donation for relief efforts and attending to other recovery details.

No one is certain what the final cost of the disaster will be to Sony. The company's American-traded shares tumbled nearly 11% between Friday (the day the quake hit) and the following Wednesday, closing at $29.88 on the NYSE. Sony recovered somewhat since, closing at $31.54 on Friday. And at the close of business yesterday, the stock was at $32.28…a good sign for a good company.

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