Seán Meehan

Seán Meehan
Over two decades I have developed unique insights into customer centricity and how difficult it is to do well. I can show companies how to achieve it and maintain it.
Seán Meehan

Seán Meehan, Martin Hilti Professor of Marketing & Change Management and Dean of Faculty at IMD, is an award-winning author on customer centricity and how organizations can deploy customer-led strategies to deliver superior performance. He works with senior executives from companies across the globe to help them deliver strong results through a tireless focus on customer value creation.


Meehan's work shows how businesses that believe putting customers interests ahead of those of all other stakeholders perform better for all stakeholders. While this might seem obvious, it is incredibly difficult for organizations to become truly customer-led, and even harder to maintain, as he shows in his 2021 book, The Customer Copernicus. The book’s insights won praise from former Unilever CEO Paul Polman, Danfoss President and CEO Kim Fausing and DBS CEO Piyush Gupta, among others.


This research provides a toolkit for how businesses can become and stay truly customer-led, particularly as they face the new challenges of the post-pandemic period. The key component is an outside-in approach that involves taking a lead from customers and pioneering on their behalf, rather than the prevailing inside-out belief systems of most organizations, who see things from their own perspectives and are driven by their own internal agendas and more immediate, proximate and accessible concerns.


Meehan has applied this analysis to companies such as Amazon, Deliveroo, easyJet and Sky, which have all succeeded by putting the customer at the center of value creation, but also to Tesco, O2 and Wells Fargo, former customer-led successes that ended up losing their way.


He has co-authored two other important books on the subject: Simply Better: Winning and Keeping Customers by Delivering What Matters Most and Beyond the Familiar: Long Term Growth through Customer Focus and Innovation. The first of these was named Marketing Book of the Year by the American Marketing Association in 2005 after it challenged the widespread notion that companies succeed by small differentiations in their offering and showed that getting the basics right was far more important.


He has also been published in Harvard Business Review, MIT Sloan Management Review, Business Strategy Review, strategy+business, Marketing Research, Marketing Science Institute Reports, the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal.


At IMD Meehan has designed and delivered leadership development programs for companies such as Agricultural Bank of China, Air France-KLM, Caterpillar, COFRA, Geberit, Hilti, Julius Baer, Lindt & Sprüngli, MasterCard International, Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings, PWC, Sandvik, Schindler, Swiss Re, Telefonica, Toyota and Vodafone.


He has also directed the IMD MBA program, IMD's Chief Marketing Officer Roundtable, its flagship program Orchestrating Winning Performance and its most senior leadership program the Breakthrough Program for Senior Executives.

He joined IMD in 1997, having previously worked with Deloitte where he was a Marketing Director and Arthur Andersen where he also worked in consulting and qualified as a Certified Public Accountant.

Selected publications

The Customer Copernicus – How to be Customer-Led (Routledge, 2021)

How customer-led beliefs lie behind Handelsbanken’s extraordinary success (Global Banking and Finance

Review, 2021)

Leaders of the future will need to be socially aware, and entrepreneurial (Forbes India, 2018)

FIFA - A can of worms and an unprecedented opportunity (American Marketing Association blog, 2015) How A.T. cross rewrote its future (Financial Times, 2014)

Beyond the Familiar: Long Term Growth through Customer Focus and Innovation (Jossey-Bass, 2011)

Why Nokia’s Collapse Should Scare Apple (Harvard Business Review online, 2011) An unstoppable megabrand (Business Strategy Review, 2011)

Die Kunden verstehen lernen (Harvard Business Manager, 2011)

The One Thing You Need To Get Right When Building A Brand (Harvard Business Review, 2010) Is You're Company as Customer-Focused As You Think? (MIT Sloan Management Review, 2010) So You Think You're a Good Listener (Harvard Business Review, 2008)

Developing a Customer-Focused Mindset, (Journal of Direct, Data and Digital Marketing Practice, 2005) Simply Better: Winning and Keeping Customers by Delivering What Matters Most (Harvard Business School Press, 2004)

The Customer Puzzle: Keep it Simple and Think Outside the Box (Walls Street Journal Europe, 2005)



American Marketing Association’s Berry prize - Marketing Book of the Year (2005) CEEMAN Research Champion award (2011)

Academy of Marketing Houghton Mifflin award (1996) Marketing Science Institute Alden G. Clayton award (1995)


After receiving an MA from the College of Marketing, Trinity College Dublin, Meehan took an MSc in Marketing at the University of Manchester. He earned his PhD in Marketing from London Business School.

Master of Business Administration
Develops young and experienced international professionals into future corporate leaders through an intense one year program focused on leadership and general management.
High Performance Boards
Exposes board members to the latest research on top performing boards and shares best practice from different global governance regimes.
Orchestrating Winning Performance
IMD's signature program, OWP, brings you the latest business trends, thought leadership and insights to revitalize your business, drive innovation and lead you forward. Fully customizable schedule. For executives and teams.
All IMD programs
Seán Meehan's Publications
Customer-Led Success Stories
How to create and sustain a customer-led business
Clarify customer centricity and your business will flourish