Carl H. Lindner College of BusinessCarl H. Lindner College of BusinessUniversity of Cincinnati

Carl H. Lindner College of Business

Executive Summary: Q&A with Kirk Perry

The inside perspective—both business and personal—from an alumnus, friend and supporter of the college and university.
  • Kirk Perry is president, global family care, for the Procter & Gamble Company. He has been with the company since graduating from UC in 1990 with a BBA in finance and marketing. He started his career with P&G in marketing and became a general manager in 2001. Perry spent six years of his career in Asia with three-year assignments in both South Korea and Japan. He is actively involved with UC today, serving as the chair of the marketing and communications committee for the UC Foundation and has been a loyal UCATS member since graduation. He, along with his family, endows a scholarship for Carl H. Lindner Honors-PLUS program and until recently served as the leader of the P&G UC recruiting team. Perry was UC’s Homecoming King in 1989, Mr. Bearcat in 1990 and was the Outstanding Graduate and Marketing Student from the Lindner College of Business in 1990. Perry and his wife Jacki have four children. Outside of work and family, he serves on the national board of the March of Dimes and the Citylink foundation as well as coaches youth sports.

Who is your role model and why?

My great-grandfather. He was on his own at a very early age. He valued education but wasn’t able to get the formal education he desired. He spent his whole life learning as much as he could and passing it on to others. He instilled in me a desire to continue learning every single day, go to college no matter what and to never give up. I think his proudest day would have been when I graduated from UC because I was the first person in my extended family to get a four-year degree.

What are your natural strengths and how have they contributed to your success?

I am glad you didn’t ask about my opportunities, or we would be here all day! I am fortunate to have had assignments that really enabled me to effectively use my strengths. First, I am able to break complex problems into smaller, more manageable pieces. Regardless of what the issue is, it’s key to get people working on manageable chunks versus trying to solve the whole problem at once. Second, I bring an expertise to help teams align and focus on the few most important priorities. A shared goal is a great enabler for each team member to step up, lead and deliver the unique capability and results they bring to the business.  

What is your proudest career moment?

I was part of the global leadership team in baby care that took over a tough business in the early part of the last decade. We had made some missteps on the business in the mid-1980s...and had not delivered the results over that period that the company needed from us. During the first decade of the new century, we expanded our global market share, Pampers grew three-fold in sales and we made major progress in North America. It was a thrill to be part of this turnaround and to work with an amazing team.

What is the most influential/favorite book you’ve ever read? 

I love reading so that’s a tough one, but I have three that stand out. The Bible is first. It’s timeless and a roadmap for me on how to try and live a life I can look back on and be proud of. I fall short every day in my personal journey, but I know that grace is there to pick me up. Good to Great by Jim Collins is the best business book I’ve ever read. Again, a terrific roadmap with seven practical principles for what separates good from great businesses. Finally, I love history and John Adams by David McCullough is an amazing piece of work, portraying Adams in a way that is human and honest. His passion for his country and desire for sacrifice to leave something behind was amazing.

You served as chairman of the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Division of the March of Dimes from 2006 to 2008, and have been a member of the national board since 2010. What has been the most rewarding experience during your service?

It’s an incredible organization that is all about babies getting off to a healthy start in life. The U.S. has one of the highest infant mortality rates of any industrialized country in the world—which is a travesty—and one in eight babies is born prematurely. To see these numbers decrease with the progress in research and programs to help combat prematurity is fantastic. And when you meet families whose lives were impacted because of this, you see the power in the mission.

If you were able to provide one-on-one mentoring to a student today, what advice would you give him/her?

First, become a citizen of the world. In his book The World is Flat, Thomas Friedman talks about how kids today don’t just compete with kids in the “NATO” block for jobs/opportunities, they compete with Chinese, Indians, Siberians, etc. The days of an economy, or company, totally insulated from the world are over. Either embrace it or be frustrated for the rest of your working life. Second, I would tell them to work hard now, work smart later. Someone gave me this advice when I started at P&G and I have embraced it and lived it. There will always be someone better or smarter than you in something. However, there doesn’t have to be someone who works harder than you. You will be rewarded for this early effort many times over during the course of your career.

What are your fondest memories of your time at UC?

Friendships. To this day, I am connected to a core group of about 20 friends from college. I love those guys for who they are, not what they do or have. That is the mark of true friendship and it started for us 
on campus.

If you could grant any wish for the college, what would it be and why?

We have so much to offer as a university, college and city. We have a number of Fortune 500 companies that call Cincinnati home. We can and should be a top 20 program and a destination choice for top students—I hope to see that one day.