10 Things You Didn’t Know about Abbott Laboratories CEO Miles White

Miles White is the current head of Abbott Laboratories, which is a health care company based in the state of Illinois. Generally speaking, he is a well-respected figure in the world of business, as shown by the various publications that have labeled him as one of the more capable as well as one of the more powerful executives that can be found out there. Here are 10 things that you may or may not have known about Miles White:

1. The Meaning of Miles Is Uncertain

The exact meaning of the name Miles is uncertain, not least because there is an excessive number of potential explanations. For example, it is possible that it comes from a Slavic element meaning something along the lines of “gracious.” However, it is also possible that it comes from the Latin for “soldier.” In fact, it is perfectly possible that Miles is a name with multiple origins.

2. White Is a Very Common Name

White is a surname that popped up in reference to someone who was either fair-haired or fair-complexioned. Perhaps unsurprisingly, White is a surname that has popped up in a wide range of cultures. For example, the Romans are known to have used Albus as a cognomen. Likewise, there were a lot of Scottish and Irish people who adopted White as a translation for Scottish and Irish names with similar meanings.

3. Born in Minneapolis

Regardless, White was born in Minneapolis, which is the bigger of the Twin Cities that can be found in the state of Minnesota. Supposedly, the name translates to something along the lines of “water city,” being a combination of the Dakota Sioux word for water and the Greek word for city.

4. Has Two Degrees from Stanford University

Education-wise, White went to Stanford University for both his bachelor’s degree and his master’s degree. The first was for mechanical engineering. In contrast, the second was for business administration.

5. Started Out at McKinsey & Co.

Career-wise, White started out at a company called McKinsey & Co. For those who are curious, McKinsey & Co. is a company that specializes in management consulting. Although said company is based in the United States, it operates on a worldwide basis, which says much about its presence in its chosen market.

6. Serves on Various Boards of Directors

Currently, White is both the CEO and the Chairman of the Board for Abbott Laboratories. However, it is interesting to note that he serves on the Board of Directors for other corporations as well, with one being McDonald’s and the other being Caterpillar Inc. This is on top of his involvement with other organizations in other ways.

7. Believes Short CEO Tenures Based on Burnout

In an interview, White has stated that he believes that the short tenures of CEOs can be blamed on burnout. As he sees it, a CEO has a huge amount of responsibility to a wide range of stakeholders, meaning that their choices are inevitably going to be closely scrutinized. On top of that, CEOs don’t get a lot of sympathy when they make mistakes, not least because they are compensated a great deal for their expertise and experience.

8. Believes in Abbott Laboratories’ Mission

White’s own tenure as CEO has been much longer than that of most CEOs, seeing as how he reached said position in 1998. According to him, he believes that he has been able to perform in the position for so long because he believes in Abbott Laboratories’ mission, seeing as how there aren’t a lot of things that are more important than making products that improve human health.

9. Believes in a Need to Look to the Future

Over the course of his tenure, White has proven that he is interested in making sure that Abbott Laboratories will continue to remain relevant in an ever-changing business environment. To this end, he believes that it is important to keep a watchful eye on the future, which can enable businesses to maintain a good idea of how they should adapt instead of being forced to play catch-up.

10. Believes in a High-Discipline Business Culture

Different businesses have different business cultures. In the case of Abbott Laboratories, its business culture puts a strong emphasis on meeting performance goals and then proceeding to reach still higher, which is something that has resulted in a demand for a high degree of discipline. Perhaps unsurprisingly, White approves, both because he has shaped it and because he has been shaped by it.


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