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Business

Western Digital is 'committed' to its joint ventures with Toshiba

CEO of US hard-drive maker says 'healthy conflicts' are good for a company

Western Digital CEO Steve Milligan

Steve Milligan, the chief executive of U.S. hard-drive maker Western Digital, said his company is "committed" to its joint ventures with Toshiba and wants to ensure they can "continue to be successful."

His message on Nov. 8 comes amid a dispute over Toshiba's sale of its profitable flash memory unit, Toshiba Memory, to a consortium led by Bain Capital. Western Digital and Toshiba have a joint venture that owns production equipment at the Japanese conglomerate's flagship chip plant in Yokkaichi, in central Japan.

Milligan stressed that Western Digital's relationship with Toshiba is "critically important for both companies," and that his side is "very committed to the joint ventures we have with Toshiba Memory."

"The commitment to the longevity and the success of the joint ventures is our No. 1 priority," he said. "We are very resolved to making sure that things get resolved in a way that enables our joint ventures to continue to be successful well into the future."

Both sides, he suggested, should "continue to find a way to make each other better."

Milligan's session at the forum focused on "leadership in the age of disruptive change," and he shared lessons gleaned from his own experience. One concerned the importance of debate.

"You need to have healthy conflicts in your organization," the CEO said, as they make leaders better. "Yes people," on the other hand, provide no value.

Enabling debate, in turn, requires a diverse team -- both in terms of gender and culture. The "right team," Milligan said, challenges leaders by asking basic questions like, "Where do we want to take the company?" and "What kind of future do we want to create?"

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