Colleagues from Canada, Australia & Ecuador with me and our CEO André at PMI HQ in New York City.

“In Conversation” with André

John R. Gagain Jr
3 min readDec 18, 2018


I think Philip Morris International (PMI) was the 33rd largest company in the world in 2018 — when I started working there — if I remember correctly. I have never worked for any corporation before — big or small. So, when I was chosen, after only 4 months of working at PMI, to sit with 3 other colleagues from Australia, Canada, and Ecuador to discuss the company’s transformation with our CEO; I was surprised, excited, proud, and nervous — all at the same time.

When the history books are written on “business transformations” (and this company’s transformation in particular), this discussion — more formally known as — “In Conversation” with Andre (the CEO) will have it’s own book chapter.

In Conversation is an open, honest, and provocative conversation between non-senior staffers at the company and the CEO. It’s a video show that is shared with PMI’s 80,000+ employees located across the planet in over 180 countries. The show is a key element driving the company’s transformation.

After working at the company for just a few months, this was an honor, a privilege, and a responsibility to speak candidly to the issues, obstacles, and opportunities driving or inhibiting the company’s new direction.

“In Conversation” recording session at PMI HQ in New York City.

I knew I had to put forth a genuine effort just 2–3 weeks before the show’s recording in New York City to learn:

1.) All I could about the company’s transformation,

2.) More about what my colleagues at the local (market) level thought about the progress of the company towards its transformation (especially because these local colleagues are farther from the company’s central operations in Switzerland and New York City), and,

3.) All I could about other companies and organizations undergoing a transformation of this magnitude or similar.

I thought a lot about — and read a lot about — Bridgewater [5th most important private company in the USA (Fortune) that “made more money for investors than any other hedge fund in history” (Bloomberg)] founder Ray Dalio’s principles of “Radical Transparency” and “Radical Open-Mindedness,” especially because we were asked to speak frankly, honestly, and openly with our CEO.

This episode of In Conversation was coined the “most provocative” of all episodes by its producers. Colleagues from all over the world have found value in the episode’s content, particularly because of its openness and honesty.

The episode, after taking place in New York City at the company’s corporate headquarters, already resulted in screening and watch parties in other markets and countries (i.e. Canada). It will surely lead to a more enriched discussion about our company’s new direction and transformation.

I was proud to have shared this important space and moment in our company’s history with our colleagues and CEO.

December 2018



John R. Gagain Jr

I’m a Change professional that loves facilitating workshops for teams looking to be more innovative & impactful; coaching, storytelling, & leadership.