The 2016 University of Nebraska–Lincoln Executive Insights featured four distinguished executives from Lincoln-area businesses participating in a panel discussion facilitated by Dr. Donde Plowman, James Jr. and Susan Stuart Endowed Dean of the College of Business Administration. More than 120 people attended the event held at the Sheldon Art Museum, before an audience of students from the BSAD 444 class, as well as faculty, staff and other visitors. Executives included Marc LeBaron, chairman and CEO of Lincoln Industries, Joann Martin, president and CEO of Ameritas, Angie Muhleisen, president and chairman of Union Bank and Trust and Tonn Ostergard, president and CEO of Crete Carrier Corporation.
Plowman emphasized to students the importance of using the event to better understand what it takes to lead. She also encouraged students to attend an hour-long networking reception with the executives following the panel.
“This is the chance for students to spend time up-close with executives in important leadership positions in our community,” said Plowman. “Students can ask questions to learn the qualities of a strong leader and what issues they face on a daily basis.”
The executives talked about the passions that drive them in their professions. They stressed building the right culture is crucial to success.
“Being available and accessible to all employees is where it starts,” said Ostergard. “I have to walk the talk by reinforcing core principles of our company that we all try to live by. People watch every day to see if I am representing those values.”
Muhleisen believes as an executive she must make extra time for employees going through difficult personal issues. She said it starts with caring about each other.
“We have 800 employees at our bank and if they are having a personal issue, I will write a note, pick up the phone or go see that person. It takes a tremendous amount of time but the connection it makes with employees is wonderful for the organization. Our core values are faith, family, friends and work, and I try to live that,” said Muhleisen.
The executives also talked about leadership traits. LeBaron mentioned the energy needed to run a company, and stressed the amount of time he devotes working with clients, suppliers and employees.
“You have to possess good communication skills and be strategic when leading an organization,” said LeBaron. “You cannot assign the vision to someone else. Ultimately, I am the one who has to set the strategy.”
Martin pointed out the value of knowing your strengths and weaknesses. She said it takes self-awareness to manage effectively.
“You have to know yourself because the organization takes on a little bit of your personality,” said Martin. “Whether you are using a tool like StrengthsFinder or something else, you need to come up with an effective way of working that suits you best. For me, long-term thinking helps the organization grow most effectively. Trying to fix everything immediately does not help the organization long-term.”
The School of Accountancy and Finance Advisory Boards sponsored Executive Insights. Dr. Kathy Farrell, chair of the finance department and State Farm Professor of Finance, believes students attending the event went away with a better picture of executive leadership.
“We prioritize this event because it provides students with more opportunities to interact with alumni who have demonstrated success in business,” said Farrell. “The questions students raised expressed specific points related to the various industries and how the executives progressed in their careers.”
Facebook Photo Album