CREATING BREAKTHROUGH TEAMS
“I presented four different programs to the sales and marketing team of the Merisant Company on the topics of paradigms, brainstorming, change, and leadership. The icing on the cake was having the privilege of working with and observing CEO, Paul Block in action.
In our first communication Paul wrote, “My personal style is to empower people to work in teams to find solutions, moreover, to work collectively, through a constructive dissention process and purpose. I am a big believer in the breakthrough thought process as a way to build and grow business.”
Paul’s unique, empowering and transformational leadership style inspired me, as did his ability to set aside his ego, ask questions, listen and teach. When Harvard Business School professor and expert on business strategy, leadership and change, Rosabeth Moss Kantor wrote, “Leaders are more powerful role models when they learn than when they teach,” she could have been referring to Paul Block.
Working with his team was both a privilege and a learning experience. It also cemented my thinking on the importance of guiding individual team members to play to their strengths, create ownership by collectively crafting a vision as well as clearly defining the responsibility that goes with being empowered.”
— James Mapes, best-selling author of Quantum Leap Thinking: An Owner’s Guide to the Mind, acclaimed business speaker, consultant, seminar leader and personal excellence coach
SITUATIONAL LEADERSHIP THAT DRIVES RESULTS
“Paul is a true value creator, both in the traditional operational and management sense, and in his ability to understand and take advantage of the impact that the balance sheet and capital markets have on stake holder value.
He combines an optimistic style with a realistic, pragmatic view of the range of potential outcomes, which makes him credible and inspiring. Perhaps most valuable and unusual is Paul’s ability to adjust and adapt quickly, which allows him to be a member of the Team when that is the most effective, to be the leader when that is the most effective, and to adopt the approach and style that is most likely to accomplish the objective. When a company faces significant challenge and opportunity, the experience, perspective, and style of Paul Block would be a very significant asset.”
— James Conlan, Partner and Co-Chairman, Sidley Austin LLP
A TRUE LEADER WITHIN THE COMPANY & WITH OUTSIDE CONSTITUENTS
“Over a 21-year career as a restructuring banker, I have worked with hundreds of CEOs, board members and members of senior management on complex and contentious restructuring transactions.
During the last two years, I have worked very closely with Paul Block on restructuring Merisant. Paul possesses the rare combination of skills required by a CEO to implement a truly successful restructuring. First and foremost, he has tremendous business judgment that has allowed him to make very difficult business decisions in the face of limited liquidity. More impressively, he was able to develop, market and launch a successful new product line while securing a world-class operating partner despite the company’s financial difficulties.
In addition, Paul has a very sharp understanding of the overall financial objectives and requirements of the ongoing restructuring. His understanding of the company’s capital structure and liquidity targets is consistently thorough and accurate. Lastly, Paul’s ability to keep his management team together during a difficult restructuring is commendable. Based on my experience, this is only achieved by a CEO who is truly a leader within and outside of his company—a quality that Paul clearly possesses.”
— Nicholas P. Leone Senior, Managing Director, The Blackstone Group
FIRST TO MARKET WITH FDA & PEPSICO
“I had the pleasure of working closely with Paul and his team at Merisant to comb the world to identify and evaluate a number of natural sweetener candidates and select the one that represented the best new product opportunity. Paul had the vision to put together an external team of regulatory scientists who were experts in evaluating the safety of sweeteners and obtaining GRAS status, paving the way for Merisant to extend its product line into the important natural sweetener area.
As the leader of the external safety and regulatory team, I was impressed by Paul’s deft ability to understand the complex scientific issues to be addressed and the rationale for the regulatory path chosen for Rebaudioside A. A crucial part of the strategy was to meet with FDA early in the process to explain the scientific rationale for GRAS status of Rebaudioside A and to proactively identify and address any safety issues.
As a result, Merisant was the first company to file a GRAS notification with the FDA, receiving a no-objection letter from the FDA in a timely manner. Further, Paul’s team of highly regarded scientific and regulatory experts was a major factor that led a multinational food and beverage company to partner with Merisant.”
— Harriott Butchko MD, Scientific Consultant
CHANGE LEADERSHIP COMBINED WITH IMMEDIATE TANGIBLE RESULTS
“In my experience, most CEOs and senior executive managers have a leadership footprint in either one of two camps: a chief executive who drives a highly pragmatic, activist agenda for the company and its brands, or an innovator who prefers to chart a more strategic, vision-centric course. Then there is Paul Block, who is one of the very few equally adept and comfortable in both camps.
I worked closely with Paul for nearly 20 years across a range of companies and sectors—from his days as a Marketing Director at Guinness to his first CEO position with Sara Lee, and most recently as Chairman and CEO of Merisant.
Among his considerable set of skills that I find most impressive is his ability to join up his ‘man-on-a-mission’ pursuit of ambitious, transformational value initiatives for moving brands and organizations into the future with a tenacity and desire to deliver immediate and tangible business results… and more than anything accounts for his record of success in managing high-growth as well as turnaround situations.
In both cases, Paul has proved to be an effective agent of change with the necessary vision to drive true organizational potential and the chief motivator in the boardroom who encourages others to take action and realize those changes.”
— Adam Stagliano, Chief International Strategy Officer, TBWA/Chiat Day; Board Director, Merisant Company
HIGH INTEGRITY, STRAIGHTFORWARD AND DECISIVE UNDER FIRE
“While serving on the Merisant Board of Directors, I saw Paul in action under formidable conditions. At a time when the company was facing and then operating under bankruptcy, he managed to retain a talented executive team, preserve and even expand strategic relationships with PepsiCo, maintain favorable supplier relationships and execute the launch of Pure ViaTM — an innovative new product with landmark implications for the company.
He navigated the regulatory process adeptly for securing FDA allowance of the key ingredient in Pure ViaTM, and his strategy to reposition the Merisant product mix in order to focus on all-natural ingredients yielded a growth path for the company.
Paul can stay focused on the business objectives and navigate the minefield of restructuring at the same time, and even under steady fire he is in the top tier of competence and ability to lead with trust and accountability. His integrity, straightforward assessments and decisive action plans have earned him a very strong sense of confidence from the board.
As a private equity investor, I have worked with scores of CEOs and management teams, and I personally find Paul’s approach, instincts and intelligence refreshing.”
— Greg Horn, Partner, Pegasus Sustainable Century; former CEO, General Nutrition Centers; Board Director, Merisant Company
LEADS WITH A CLEAR AND COHESIVE STRATEGIC VISION
“I had the opportunity to work with Paul when he was at Allied Domecq and Sara Lee. For both companies, his leadership transformed the business and the brands. Paul was able to quickly sort through complex, layered business and marketing issues, and thoughtfully unravel them until strategic clarity and focus were restored. I also observed his exceptional talent to restructure and re-cast an organization… he not only brought out the best in his organization but in mine, as well. In every situation, Paul aligns all of the important details… he is a positive force who inspires individuals and teams to achieve aspiration outcomes.”
— Tonise Paul, President & CEO, Energy BBDO