PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 13, 2006 (PRIMEZONE) -- Art Collins, chairman and CEO of Medtronic, discussed leadership lessons from his career during a wide-ranging discussion with participants in Wharton Executive Education's Advanced Management Program (AMP). Collins, head of the world's largest medical device and technology company, emphasized the need for strong values, an independent board, and a focus on long-term impact.

Collins' own career and leadership were shaped by experiences from leading sports teams as a child, to serving as an officer in the United States Navy, to taking on a difficult overseas assignment at Abbott Laboratories before joining Medtronic. Collins, who assumed leadership of the company in early 2001, said the collapse of Enron and other companies has highlighted the importance of core values. A great deal of focus initially was placed on the lack of sound financial control systems at Enron. However, Collins thinks that the biggest problem at Enron was not having a strong sense of mission and core values at the top of the company. "From senior management on down, you need a good solid understanding of what the company is about and the core values that underpin decisions and actions at all levels of the organization," he said.

Medtronic is focused on the impact its products have on patients. Its most important internal metric is that every five seconds somewhere in the world a Medtronic product is used to save or substantially improve someone's life. The company is also committed to sustaining organic growth through investments of well over $1 billion per year in R&D. "The basic premise," said Collins, "is that no competitive advantage is sustainable unless you invest and innovate in order to maintain world-class status." He observed that companies that have lost their number one position generally have not deteriorated from the outside in, but rather from the inside out. He said that great companies are confident, but at the same time continually worried that someone will overtake them. Collins also thinks that many of the factors influencing the competitive position of a company translate well across country borders even though customs and laws may vary around the world. He also shared some of his thoughts on the traits of a successful CEO.

Collins was one of a diverse set of guest speakers who addressed the 50th class of the Wharton Executive Education program. In addition to sessions with top Wharton faculty, other visiting speakers included Jim Citrin, best-selling author and senior director of SpencerStuart; Eric Pillmore, senior vice president of Tyco International; and Jeremy Rifkin, author of 17 books on the impact of scientific and technological changes, including The Hydrogen Economy and The Biotech Century, which are the focus of his AMP sessions.

There are now approximately 2,000 Wharton AMP alumni, including participants from companies such as AT&T, Bayer, Boeing, BUPA, BBC, Fluor Corp., Fujitsu, Heineken, Hewlett-Packard, Mitsui, Parsons Corp., Philips, Renault, Saudi Aramco, UBS, Unilever, and United Parcel Service. Participants are internationally diverse and come from a wide range of industries, including financial services, energy, manufacturing, services, petroleum and mining, engineering and construction, government, communications, media, and services.

About Wharton Executive Education

Each year, Wharton Executive Education works with more than 8,000 business leaders on its campus in Philadelphia, at Wharton West in San Francisco, and at sites around the world. The Wharton Learning Continuum is Wharton Executive Education's model for delivering Impact Through Education(tm) -- supporting companies and individuals in a 9- to 12-month learning process that is designed collaboratively with clients, delivered by Wharton faculty, and monitored to produce specific outcomes.

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The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania -- founded in 1881 as the first collegiate business school -- is recognized globally for intellectual leadership and ongoing innovation across every major discipline of business education. The most comprehensive source of business knowledge in the world, Wharton bridges research and practice through its broad engagement with the global business community. The school has more than 4,600 undergraduate, MBA, executive MBA, and doctoral students; more than 8,000 annual participants in executive education programs; and an alumni network of more than 81,000 graduates.

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