Leadership Minor, Speaker Series Probe Question of What Makes a Great Leader

The University of Colorado Boulder is sharpening its focus on leadership, offering a thriving minor, a speaker series launching next month with a visit by former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and new courses aimed at fostering leadership in students with a diverse array of backgrounds and career paths.

“It is a common refrain you hear from employers in both the nonprofit and for-profit sectors. We need more leaders, better leaders and more effective leadership,” says former CU Boulder President Alexander Bracken, who now holds the Quigg and Virginia S. Newton Endowed Chair in Leadership.

According to one recent survey by Payscale.com, 44 percent of hiring managers say recent college graduates lack leadership skills. To fill the gap, CU Boulder in 2014 launched a new Leadership Studies Minor designed to reach across all colleges, complement any academic major and be open to any undergraduate. Today nearly 400 students – from artists and dancers to physicists and future physicians - are pursuing it. To manage the rapid growth of the program, now housed in the School of Education, CU Boulder recently hired a new program director and is adding course sections to keep class sizes small.

Courses for the 16-credit minor cover everything from leadership theory to the exploration of benevolent and toxic governmental leaders across the globe and throughout history and the value of good writing in affecting change. Students also put their leadership lessons to work via partnerships with community organizations.

Integral to the minor, and to the university’s broader leadership focus, is the idea of exposing students up-close and personal to people who have effectively led people.

To do that, CU Boulder launched the Leo Hill Distinguished Leadership Speaker Series, which kicks off Tuesday, Feb. 28, with a public lecture and classroom visit by Gates. Gates served as secretary of defense under George W. Bush and became the only secretary of defense in U.S. history asked to remain in that office by a newly elected president, Barack Obama.

“He was an amazing bi-partisan leader who was not afraid to ask questions and challenge the normal ways of operating across party lines,” says Kira Pasquesi of Gates. Pasquesi is the program director and an instructor for the leadership minor.

Pasquesi says effective leaders are good listeners, team builders and critical thinkers who have moral courage and keep ethics in mind when framing their decisions. But she says students often have to unlearn certain things they assume about what a leader looks like or what position leaders hold in companies and organizations.

Today’s effective leaders are “less hero” and “more host,” less “all-powerful knower and manager” and more “facilitator who is attentive to people’s needs and recognizes leadership as a process of shared visioning,” she said.

Most importantly, according to Paquesi, students are encouraged to do some self-reflection and identify their own unique leadership skills and the ways they might be able to apply them today in their daily lives and relationships with co-workers.

Lakshmi Karamsetti is doing just that.

She will graduate this May with a major in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology and a minor in leadership studies, which she credits with helping her discover leadership qualities she never knew she had.

“You don’t have to serve in a leadership position specifically to be a leader, but you do need to believe that you can affect change,” says Karamsetti.

She’s now applying to medical schools and hopes to ultimately get a combined medical and master of business administration degree. Someday, she’d like to craft health care policy.

Tickets for the Gates event are free. They will be available to CU Boulder students, faculty and staff on Wednesday, Jan. 25, and to the public on Wednesday, Feb. 1, at http://www.robertgates.eventbrite.com.


Business Roundtable’s Gov. Engler Issues Literacy Challenge to Inaugural Colorado Governors Fellows

The call to public service comes in several forms. Some people seem to be born leaders, the kids who declare in kindergarten that they want to be president. Some find it through a passion for community service or political issue that elevates to a leadership level. Others might not see themselves as potential officials until a mentor gives encouragement. Quarterly Forum (QF) and The Leaders Initiative (TLI) have joined forces to ensure that Colorado cultivates top candidates to serve in public sector leadership roles with the Colorado Governors Fellowship Program.

The program kicked off with enthusiasm at the Governor’s Mansion on June 29, 2016, and Colorado Business Roundtable was pleased to be a sponsor. It presented us with an excellent opportunity to bring Business Roundtable CEO and former governor of Michigan John Engler back to our state to serve as a guest speaker. Two Business Roundtable Executive Committee members were in attendance: John A. Hayes, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Boulder's Ball Corporation; and Jacqueline Hinman, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of CH2M, headquartered in Englewood, CO. Business Roundtable member R.A.Walker, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Anadarko Petroleum Corporation flew in from Houston, and Colorado President Roberta Robinette represented for AT&T, another member of Business Roundtable.

Dr. Geoff Smart, Chairman & Founder of ghSMART & Company, Inc. and author of the book Leadocracy was also a guest speaker. Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, QF President Meegan Moszynski, and QF co-chairmen Erik Mitisek and Ryan Heckman also gave remarks. Other featured attendees were Former Colorado Governors Bill Owens and Bill Ritter.

Colorado Governors Fellowship Program works across all sectors including government and non-profit, but it has a specific lean toward identifying potential public servants currently working in private industry. The inaugural fellowship has 22 of the state’s best and brightest from a variety of top companies such as Anadarko Petroluem Corporation, Arrow Electronics, Inc. and DaVita Healthcare Partners, Inc. For a complete list, see here.

Gov. Engler posed a challenge to the new Fellows to make this program so renowned that it would become a model for others states and for Washington, D.C. He commended the work of the CH2M Foundation promoting science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.

In the vein of Colorado’s commitment to education and workforce, Engler posed an even greater challenge: achieve reading proficiency by third grade for all students. He mentioned that only about one-third of students in the United States meet that level of proficiency, and he is still looking for the state which can change it.

While meeting that specific challenge is not necessarily the goal of this inaugural class of Colorado Governors Fellows, it is clear that these are the people, the groups, the mentors and the experiences to make major progress even more achievable. Best wishes to the 2016-2017 Colorado Governors Fellowship! We can hardly wait to see what you make of it.

Check out the event with a few of our favorite photos, courtesy of ICOSA Media:

More Than 350 EMBA Graduates Gather in Downtown Denver

It was an evening of conversations and connecting as more than 350 Executive MBA graduates gathered at the program’s first reunion June 25 at the History ColoradoCenter. Members from 66 of the 67 cohorts were represented at the event. The Daniels Executive MBA program was initiated in 1973 and was one of the first EMBA programs in the United States.

Tia Furcht (Executive MBA 2015) flew in from Las Vegas to attend the reunion.

“I came to catch up with people in my cohort and the faculty,” Furcht said. “I flew on a plane each week to come here for school. It was a big commitment. I was really searching for a good program, not just a degree. I met incredible people and faculty; they are like a second family to me.”

The attendees mingled, enjoying food, drink and music before the program. In attendance were doctors, business and community leaders, entrepreneurs, lawyers and educators, all of whom graduated from the Daniels EMBA program.

“I’m thrilled to be with you this evening as we celebrate the success of the EMBA program and the impact of its alumni on the regional, national and international community,” said University of Denver Chancellor Rebecca Chopp. “The program’s emphasis on social impact through its capstone projects aligns with the University’s mission to serve the public good. Many nonprofit organizations in our community have benefited from these student projects and through the projects we continue Bill Daniels’ philanthropic legacy.”

Dean Emeritus Bruce Hutton and Associate Dean Barb Kreisman reminded attendees about the Daniels College of Business’ namesake—cable industry founder Bill Daniels—who  introduced ethics in business education to the College with a gift of $11 million in 1999.

“Bill believed people should use their business capabilities to give back to those less fortunate,” Kreisman said. “Our program is not just about business. It’s about life.”

Kreisman recognized five people who reflect the values of Bill Daniels and are great representatives and ambassadors of the EMBA program. The honorees were:

  • Kent Bradley (Executive MBA 2011), physician, former U.S. Army Colonel, founder of BTN Advisors and the Downtown Artery, recognized for his outstanding contributions as an alum
  • Lowell Miller (Executive MBA 2011), assistant teaching professor at Daniels, recognized for his outstanding contributions as an alum and faculty member
  • Members of Team “Helmet Heads” for their ongoing commitment to community service and for their life saving measures to provide helmets for children engaged in sports activities
  • Maclyn Clouse, professor of finance at Daniels, recognized for ongoing commitment to student learning over the past 38 years
  • Bruce Hutton, dean emeritus, in recognition for 40 years of service to DU and Daniels

Daniels Dean Brent Chrite also presented Kreisman with an award for her years of service to Daniels and the EMBA program.

“Barb brings such an energy and quality to her work,” Chrite said. “It is truly special. We rely on her abilities and are privileged that she’s allowed us to be recipients of her energy and commitment for so many years.”

The audience gave Kreisman a standing ovation, as they did for many of the award recipients. Following the program, attendees continued to connect with their fellow graduates.

“It’s great to be part of something so impressive,” said Jayson Gitt, who is expected to graduate in August 2017. “This is so different from other programs, where they focus just on academics; here they are concerned with the whole package. It’s unique.”

This article was originally published at daniels.du.edu

Education Needs CEO Activism

Op-ed by Scott Laband, President, Colorado Succeeds

Remember when political and social activists targeted CEOs and their companies for various alleged sins? Nowadays, it’s big business and big-name executives carrying the protest signs.

Top corporate executives, such as Apple’s Tim Cook, PayPal’s Dan Schulman and Salesforce’s Marc Benioff, among others, have admonished politicians, and, in some cases, threatened economic reprisals against several Southern and Midwest states because of legislative action on hot-button social issues.

CEOs are using their wealth as well as the bully pulpit, too. For instance, not long ago, Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg donated $100 million to Newark, N.J., school system; EBay founder Pierre Omidyar has used his wealth to back public interest journalism; and PayPal co-creator Peter Thiel, in the recent Gawker case, has spent some of his billions, controversially, to fight salaciousness-seeking journalists who invade the privacy of public figures.

Regardless of what you think of these issues, it shouldn’t surprise us that a CEO’s voice can lead to major changes in a state or nationally. CEOs have the ability to direct conversation and wield significant influence. At their best, they are leaders who think strategically, can persuade through direct discussion, networking, and exert political influence.

And certainly enough needy causes exist for their concern, everything from cancer cures to gay rights. But doesn’t one area in particular – education – have the biggest direct impact on businesses?

What would happen if we replicated the CEO activism we are seeing on social issues and injected it into the issue of educational equity? After all, it’s been over 62 years since Brown v Board of Education, and our country is still facing pernicious achievement gaps and a majority of students leave high school ill-equipped for higher education or the workforce.

I recently spoke with Zack Neumeyer, chairman of Sage Hospitality in Denver, which he co-founded and served as the chief executive officer of for nearly 20 years. Sage is one of the nation’s largest hotel companies with over 7000 employees in 35 states.  He is an advocate for both CEO activism and school reform. Neumeyer believes the time is ripe to speak loudly and boldly, which he often does.

This piece originally appeared in Fox Business. To read the entire piece, click here. It's posted at the Colorado Succeeds blog.

Global Leaders in Education Convene in Downtown Denver

Colorado Business Roundtable and ICOSA Media were pleased to be part of the GlobalMindED conference on Access, Equity and Opportunity as panelists and media service sponsors, respectively. The event was held on June 9-10, 2016 in downtown Denver. Educational leaders from 20+countries, eight national foundations, ten college presidents, and thirty five non-profit/government partners were featured. The theme of the conference was Collective Impact: Who Will Magnify Your Work and Results? 

Featured speakers were from industry-leading companies including Intel Corporation, Google, Microsoft and Gallup as well is innovators like Uncharted Play and University Ventures and educational organizations like Institute for Global and Online Education in the College of Education at University of Oregon and American Indian College Fund.

COBRT Founder Gayle Dendinger was a panelist for "Policies that Promote Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Examples from Colorado that Can Scale Nationally, Internationally" on June 10. Speaking on this topic is a natural fit for Dendinger whose work in leadership and best practices has led to several companies starting with transportation and logistics (CAP Logistics in Denver 34 years ago) to media services including a radio show and weekly news subscription service. 

COBRT President Jeff Wasden was a panelist at "Higher Education's Role in Promoting Workforce Skills: Producing Capable, Practical, Professional Graduates" on June 9, continuing to speak on behalf of Education and Workforce as one of COBRT's Key Issues. COBRT radio host Stephanie Veck of Colorado Workforce Development Council and COBRT contributor Scott Laband of Colorado Succeeds were also among the distinguished speakers.