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Executives on Campus: Aaron Bujnowski, Texas Health Resources

Executives on Campus: Aaron Bujnowski, Texas Health Resources

Creating a winning strategy for the largest health care system in the Dallas/Fort Worth area may seem like a daunting task. But Aaron Bujnowski, Senior Vice President of Strategy and  Planning for Texas Health Resources feels that striving to provide the best quality care for patients gives his work deep meaning. “If we decide to build a new hospital, maybe in the long run, someone’s child or grandchild will be helped because of that decision,” he said. Bujnowski spoke recently to a group of University of Dallas business students about the role of strategic planning in a large corporation.

Aaron Bujnowski

Bujnowski told students that the key to strategic planning is to get the best return on limited resources. “You don’t need a strategy if you have unlimited resources,” he said. “But if your resources are limited, you have to make tactical choices to set the direction of the company. It’s hard to say no, but limited resources require that you must.”

According to Bujnowski, companies must understand that there is an important distinction between goals and strategy. “Vision statements and goals are aspirations,” he said. “But a good strategy is a clear definition of the choices required to achieve those goals.”

Perhaps the primary job of a strategic planner, Bujnowski said, is insight–insight into customer habits, analytics, market forces, and how current trends could possibly lead to disruption in the marketplace. “Strategy is always looking to see what’s coming down the road,” he said. As an example, Bujnowski described how Kodak did not see the disruption that cell phone cameras would have on its core camera business until it was too late for them to become a force in the market. “Disruption happens,” he said. “And strategists are constantly looking for ways in which things like new technology can cause that disruption.”

Bujnowski said that Texas Health Resources is paying close attention to how healthcare is changing in order to stay ahead of the innovation curve. “Consumerism is an important force in health care now,” he said. “Since people are paying more out of pocket of their healthcare costs, they expect a certain level of customer service to go along with that, a level that’s not been traditionally associated with healthcare.” According to Bujnowski, companies like Texas Health Resources are adopting strategies that focus on customer satisfaction, with features like online scheduling and app-based wait-time calculators to decrease time spent in the actual health clinic.

Starting a career in strategic planning often means going to work for a large consultancy firm and then specializing in a particular business sector. This can lead, then, to an in-house strategy position at a firm within that sector. “Good consultants look for patterns,” Bujnowski said. “They also look for anomalies, analogies, and compromises. But the best consultants can figure out how to break those compromises and get the maximum result.”

The University of Dallas Executives on Campus program was founded to further the University’s mission of providing practice-based education by inviting successful business leaders to share their experience with graduate and undergraduate students in the classroom. Through this program, alumni, business leaders, and their companies are invited to partner with the University in our shared pursuit of management excellence.

For help with your resumé or to make an appointment with a career counselor, click here.

 

UD Students and Alumni Discuss Social Entrepreneurship and Responsibility

UD Students and Alumni Discuss Social Entrepreneurship and Responsibility

Although many business leaders focus solely on the bottom line, those who understand and embrace the social implications of starting and growing an ethical company often have the greatest impact on their communities while still creating jobs and realizing profits. A group of local entrepreneurs with ties to the University of Dallas participated in an Entrepreneurship and Social Responsibility panel event on October 6 to discuss these issues. The event was co-sponsored by the Entrepreneurship Society and Market Share Marketing Club and moderated by Dr. Laura Munoz.

Rachel Sullivan, President UD Entrepreneurship Society   Photo by Anthony Garnier
Rachel Sullivan, President UD Entrepreneurship Society
Photo by Anthony Garnier

In making the connection between business and social responsibility, Michael Hasson (Politics ‘08), a digital campaign strategist and executive at Red Metrics LLC, said that entrepreneurs have responsibilities to various constituent groups. “First, you owe your funders integrity and responsibility,” he said. “You also owe your customers your focus, you owe your employees your loyalty, and you owe society the value of creating jobs.”

Simone Meskelis, a student in UD’s Doctor of Business Administration program and Regional Sales Analyst at Essilor, shared a personal story from her native Brazil about the important role entrepreneurs play in the community. “My father traveled the country trying to find a city where he could start a business,” she said. “And our entire family lived and breathed that business. But in 1995 when the Brazilian economy collapsed and he lost his job, his biggest concern was having to let 50 people go. Those 50 families depended on my father’s business.”

(L to R) Michael Hasson, Simone Meskelis, Kyle Callahan Photo by Anthony Garnier
(L to R) Michael Hasson, Simone Meskelis, Kyle Callahan
Photo by Anthony Garnier

Kyle Callahan (Economics ‘10), Client Success Executive for Care Continuity, pointed out the challenging relationship between social responsibility and business profitability. “In our business, 30% of our clients are complex cases because they don’t have health insurance,” he said. “And our caseworkers sometimes spend a disproportionate amount of time coordinating their care. But they still need our help.”

Beyond the mechanics of business itself, the panelists also discussed how companies can publicly demonstrate a commitment to social responsibility. “Spending all day with your employees doing something like building a house–think about the lessons that can teach,” Hassan said. “And it can make a real difference in the company as well. You want employees to grow and you hope that they eventually outgrow you.”

Photo by Anthony Garnier
Photo by Anthony Garnier

Meskelis explained that increasing employee engagement can result in a win-win for both the company and the employee. “When employees receive meaning from what they do, it helps them connect their work to making the world a better place,” she said. “Work becomes more than just a paycheck.”

Callahan added that simply treating everyone well and with respect also makes employees feel connected to the company. “Understanding things like family emergencies is important,” he said.

The panel also discussed how a company might market or promote their commitment to social responsibility. “Unfortunately, hacks take what sounds best at the moment,” said Hassan. “But obligations to society have been around forever. Trying to just look social responsible doesn’t work.”

Meskelis agreed. “Social media is every liar’s worst nightmare,” she said. “If you’re not going to do the right thing in your core business, it will come out sooner or later. It doesn’t matter what foundation you serve or which cause you support.”

The University of Dallas Executives on Campus program was founded to further the University’s mission of providing practice-based education, by inviting successful business leaders to share their experience with graduate and undergraduate students in the classroom. Through this program, alumni, business leaders, and their companies are invited to partner with the University in our shared pursuit of management excellence. For more information click here.

Executives on Campus: Jennifer Boyanovsky, AT&T

Executives on Campus: Jennifer Boyanovsky, AT&T

AT&T is a Fortune 5 company, and, as you would expect, its marketing program is complex. Jennifer Boyanovsky (MBA ‘03), Executive Director, Brand Management for AT&T, spoke on September 15 to Dr. Laura Munoz’s Marketing Theory and Practice class at the University of Dallas about approaching the market, market segmentation and her own roles at AT&T.

Boyanovsky began her marketing career making cold calls. “I was literally doing door-to-door sales. It not only forced me to get outside of my comfort zone,” she said, “but it also helped me learn to deal with different types of people.” After moving on to business acquisition sales, Boyanovsky eventually took a role in consumer marketing at AT&T, helping to establish the company’s early online presence. She then worked in channel marketing, where she served as a liaison between the marketing and distribution channels. “I was really a negotiator in that role,” she said. “It was my job to make sure marketing’s plans got executed on the front line.” From that experience, Boyanovsky learned marketing departments can’t sit in a silo making plans: “Marketing has to figure out how the front lines can improve the customer experience.”

Jennifer Boyanovsky
Jennifer Boyanovsky

According to Boyanovsky, one of the keys to marketing a big brand like AT&T is balance: “The trick is to keep the brand stable, yet evolving.” Marketing plays a key role in that process by continuing to evaluate customers’ needs. “Our business marketing is a great example of how we are evolving,” she said. “We want to provide solutions to everyone from mom & pops to huge corporations like IBM. So our marketing has to show them how AT&T can help them optimize their networks, manage their data, but also answer the phones.”

Boyanovsky said that in order to become an integrated communications company, AT&T has had to break down barriers between departments. “Our marketing plan focuses on advertising broader solutions rather than just individual products,” she said. Despite the brand evolving in this way, Boyanovsky said that the it remains consistent: “Our ads are predominately blue, they contain a particular font and include the iconic AT&T tone.”

Because AT&T values new talent acquisition, Boyanovsky said that the company has two programs aimed at college students and recent graduates. The summer internship program targets freshmen and sophomores and allows students to rotate through different departments within the company over three summers, with the potential to move into full-time employment after graduation. AT&T’s 16-week B2B Sales Program is a graduate apprenticeship-type program that Boyanosvky said allows for “excellent career and learning potential.”

The University of Dallas Executives on Campus program was founded to further the University’s mission of providing practice-based education, by inviting successful business leaders to share their experience with graduate and undergraduate students in the classroom. Through this program, alumni, business leaders, and their companies are invited to partner with the University in our shared pursuit of management excellence. For more information click here.

 

Executives on Campus: Terry O’Halloran

Executives on Campus: Terry O’Halloran

If Terry O’Halloran learned anything during his years managing global companies, it is that no two cultures are the same and can’t be treated as such. “Every country, every territory, even every city is different,” he said. O’Halloran (MBA 1983), University of Dallas Trustee and retired CEO of Air Distribution Technologies, spoke on September 13 with Dr. Richard Peregoy’s Managing Global Organizations class at the University of Dallas to discuss global leaders learning from others and change.

Terry O'Halloran
Terry O’Halloran

One topic of discussion Dr. Peregoy brought up during the class was the barriers of communication that can arise from differences in culture between the parent company and its subsidiaries in different countries. O’Halloran said that he learned, for instance, that correcting an employee’s mistakes at a plant in Mexico had to be handled differently than at plants in the U.S.: “In Mexico, the employees feel a great sense of pride in their work. If you need to correct someone, it’s important to do so in private, so that you are not damaging that person’s standing in front of the other workers.”

O’Halloran told the class leaders must carefully assess the cultural implications of any proposed changes, especially in international situations. “The CEO of the company I worked for wanted me to institute lean manufacturing in India,” he said, referring to a system of manufacturing that reduces waste to improve customer value. “But it just wouldn’t work there. I visited several times over a long period, and I eventually realized that the system was not appropriate for the culture.” The bottom line, O’Halloran said, was that American manufacturing techniques don’t work in every country.

The class discussion on global business cultures eventually led to a conversation about the rapid change taking place in traditional manufacturing and retail businesses. “Companies are scrambling to try to figure out how to adapt to the tastes and habits of millennials,” O’Halloran said. “And the ones who figure it out are the ones who will make it.”

The University of Dallas Executives on Campus program was founded to further the University’s mission of providing practice-based education, by inviting successful business leaders to share their experience with graduate and undergraduate students in the classroom. Through this program, alumni, business leaders, and their companies are invited to partner with the University in our shared pursuit of management excellence. 

 

Executives on Campus: Jack Gibbons, CEO, Front Burner Restaurants

Executives on Campus: Jack Gibbons, CEO, Front Burner Restaurants

Everybody loves restaurants. And we all have opinions about what makes a good one. Ask your family members, neighbors, and coworkers and they’ll surely tell you about their great—and not so great—dining experiences. Jack Gibbons (MBA, ’05) is passionate about eating out, too. But he has taken his passion and turned it into his vocation. As the CEO of Front Burner Restaurants, Gibbons lives and breathes restaurants every day. On February 23, he shared his experiences as both a restaurateur and an entrepreneur with the University of Dallas Entrepreneurship Society.

Gibbons began his career in the restaurant industry as a waiter with the Pappas family of restaurants, a favorite in the Dallas area. He worked his way into management and eventually became brand manager for the group. While employed by Pappas, Gibbons came to UD’s Satish and Yasmin Gupta College of Business.

Gibbons said that obtaining his MBA from the University of Dallas helped him become a better businessman. “I would hear things in class—like what the great business minds have to say about something—and I would realize that it could help me solve problems I was dealing with in the restaurants,” he said.

Gibbons eventually realized that what he really wanted to do was take a risk and follow his own vision of what makes a great restaurant. He and partner, Randy DeWitt, created Front Burner Restaurants in hopes of addressing consumers’ unmet needs in a creative way. And they have been wildly successful.

According to Gibbons, putting together a strong team has been integral to the success of Front Burner. “I have surrounded myself with people who are smarter than me,” he said. “My team helps me create the unique brand for each individual restaurant.”

That uniqueness is important to Gibbons, so when he is cultivating a vision for a restaurant, he draws inspiration from a variety of areas. “I love to travel and experience new adventures in food. I study restaurants from around the country and decide what I like and what I don’t like about them,” he said. Gibbons takes what he’s learned through his research back to his team, and together they mold his vision into the DNA of the brand—what he defines as its “differences, nuances, and attitudes.”

Front Burner Restaurants certainly have attitude. A prime example is Whiskey Cake, located in Plano. Gibbons chose the area because he felt the DFW suburbs were missing out on unique dining opportunities. And despite the restaurant’s conservative surroundings, “counterculture” best describes the restaurant’s vibe. “We wanted the staff to really fit the ethos of the brand,” Gibbons said, “So our servers have dyed hair, tattoos, and piercings.” A farm to fork menu and a commitment to freshness and sustainability (they press their own juices and even recycle rainwater) have resulted in Whiskey Cake’s becoming the top-rated restaurant in DFW on the popular user-review app, Yelp.

Gibbons and his team are working on several exciting dining and entertainment projects that will take advantage of the phenomenal growth of the DFW area and its reputation as a testing ground for new restaurant concepts. With these new projects, Front Burner will continue to attract top chefs and culinary trendsetters. Anyone who likes a good meal will be looking forward to that.

For more information about the University of Dallas Entrepreneurship Society, click here.

Executives on Campus: Eddie Caldwell, Managing Director, Northwestern Mutual

Executives on Campus: Eddie Caldwell, Managing Director, Northwestern Mutual

Sometimes taking the wrong path can lead to the right career. That’s what happened to Eddie Caldwell, Managing Director of Northwestern Mutual in Addison. “It took me three years of working as an engineer in Corporate America to realize that it wasn’t for me,” he said. “I learned that I wanted to work with people, not with computers and spreadsheets.” Caldwell spoke on April 5 to Dr. Greg Bell’s Business Foundations class as part of the University of Dallas’ Executives on Campus program.

Caldwell also credits UD’s MBA program with showing him that there were other avenues for him to find a more satisfying career. “I found the financial side of things really interesting,” he said. “And because the program at UD is practical and full of professors and students with real-world advice that I could apply in my own career, I felt I could make the change” he said. Caldwell left the large technology firm he was working for to start a financial services practice, a career that’s based on building trust and confidence. “I can’t believe I get paid to do what I do,” he said. “I get to meet with people I like and talk to them about their dreams and aspirations for themselves and their families. And then I get to help make those dreams happen.”

The way Caldwell builds trust with his clients is through listening. “I sit down with them to find out just what it is they want to accomplish. I found out how well they can tolerate risk, and what they hope to do during their retirement years,” he said. “And then I design a plan that will help them reach their goals. But the key is listening.”

Listening also plays an important role in Caldwell’s other responsibility at Northwestern Mutual, that of a manager whose goal is to recruit new financial advisors who are just as passionate about serving clients. “I love what I do,” he said. “And I want to recruit people who are motivated to be the best they can be. The only way I’ll find out what motivates them is to ask and listen.”

Caldwell added that he has grown into his role as an effective leader through trial and error. “I made some mistakes along the way,” he said. “And the biggest was confusing management and leadership.” A manager, Caldwell said, will make sure that his or her team is functioning on a day to day basis. “But leaders are different,” he said. “Leaders look to the future and ask, ‘Where are we going?’”

According to Caldwell, another key characteristic of good leaders is that they learn what motivates their team members. To that end, Caldwell takes time out of every week—undisturbed “think time”—to thoughtfully consider each of his team members: what motivates them, what excites them, what they really care about. “Good leaders help their team members achieve at their highest capacity,” he said. “The number one test of leadership is to look behind the leader to see if anyone is following.”

Caldwell recommended that students look for just such leaders when they begin their careers. “Look for the leaders you want to follow in an organization,” he said. “Affiliate yourself with them and they will help you.” In the meantime, Caldwell advised students to build a strong foundation while in school by learning as much as they can about as many things as they can. “You’re laying the groundwork now for what the rest of your life is going to look like,” he said. “You may not be able to plan every step but you can build the foundation that everything else will rest on.”

The University of Dallas Executives on Campus program was founded to further the University’s mission of providing practice-based education, by inviting successful business leaders to share their experience with graduate and undergraduate students in the classroom. Through this program, alumni, business leaders, and their companies are invited to partner with the University in our shared pursuit of management excellence. For more information click here.

Executives on Campus: John Ridings Lee, Insurance Entrepreneur

Executives on Campus: John Ridings Lee, Insurance Entrepreneur

John Ridings Lee holds the distinction of being one of the first freshmen at the University of Dallas. And although he didn’t graduate from UD, perhaps the university can stake a small claim to the success he has achieved in his career. Lee spoke recently to Dr. Greg Bell’s Business Foundations class on March 31 about what he’s learned during his 50-plus years in the insurance industry.

Lee’s first job (after a stint in the military in Special Forces) was working for an insurance syndicate in London called Blackwell and Green. They assigned him to work on the offshore oil rigs near Aberdeen, Scotland. “I think Scotland is about the coldest place in the world, so I was ready to head back to the states,” he said.

Upon returning to the U.S., Lee took a job as a salesman at Southwestern Life Insurance Company. “After a couple of years, I realized the janitor was making more money than I was,” he said. “Because he was a better salesman.” In hopes of improving his bottom line, Lee took a look around the industry and determined that he should head in a different direction. “Employee benefits was just beginning to break through,” he said. “So I decided to start my own company as a benefits administrator.” That company, Employee Plans Management, administered group health and life insurance plans for large companies.

After about four years as CEO of Employee Plans Management, Lee decided to sell the company and start a holding company that could serve as an umbrella for other businesses. Over the next several years he founded a succession of companies that provided the insurance industry with new and innovative tools. For example, Lee’s North American National Re was one of the first to spread the financial risk of large life insurance policies to more than one company. “My dad told me I was a glorified bookie,” he said. “But we paid back our initial debt in the seventh year, and the company sold recently for $770 million in capital and assets.”

That wasn’t the only bet that paid out for Lee. In 1982, he and a partner started Management Compensation Group, a company dedicated to compensation and executive benefit planning. The company, which grew to twelve offices and over 400 employees, sold in 2013 to insurance giant, Prudential.

Lee also holds patents on unique financial instruments including a product which pays salaries to the survivors of deceased employees. In addition, he invented a product that offers a paid-up life insurance policy to retiring employees. As a result of his patents, Lee receives royalties every time a new one of these policies is written.

Lee credits his ability to stay on top of industry trends to his moving around from company to company. “Don’t stay with one company your whole life,” he advised students. “Look for a different hill to climb. Look for a different way to skin a cat if you want to improve your personal bottom line.”

Lee said another crucial component of success is to surround yourself with the right team. “There’s no substitute for smart people,” he said. “Your math-inclined people, like actuaries, keep your business running. And your ‘people-people’ can get more you more yeses than anybody else.”

Lee also advised students to trust their first instincts when trying to solve a problem. “If you’re sure you’re right, don’t let anybody talk you out of what you know to be true,” he said. “Whether you end up being right or wrong, you’ll learn something.” Finally, Lee told the group to be aware of wolves in sheep’s clothing. “Somebody is always going to be trying to sell you something,” he said. “So do your homework and know what it is you’re buying.” Good advice from a man who built an enormously successful career around making the right bets at the right time.

The University of Dallas Executives on Campus program was founded to further the University’s mission of providing practice-based education, by inviting successful business leaders to share their experience with graduate and undergraduate students in the classroom. Through this program, alumni, business leaders, and their companies are invited to partner with the University in our shared pursuit of management excellence. For more information click here.

Executives on Campus: Hon. Doug Lang, 5th District Court of Appeals

Executives on Campus: Hon. Doug Lang, 5th District Court of Appeals

Ethics can mean different things to different people: morals, values, principles. To the Honorable Doug Lang of the 5th District Court of Appeals, it’s a combination of honesty, integrity, and civility. Justice Lang, currently a student at the University of Dallas’ School of Ministry, spoke to Dr. Greg Bell’s Business Foundations class on March 31 about the importance of ethics—in the public areas of law and business and in the private areas of our personal lives. “Although some people say that ethics are fuzzy and can’t be articulated, the truth is, they are very simple,” Lang said. “They can be summed up by the rules you probably learned in kindergarten: don’t lie, don’t steal, and don’t hit anyone.”

Lang defined honesty as simply telling the truth and cited examples of professions which demand honesty of their practitioners. “The CPA’s code states that its members should have self-discipline above and beyond what’s required by the laws and regulations that govern them,” he said. “And attorneys must swear not to make false statements or to withhold material facts.” Lang added that businesses must be subject to moral principles as well, and that the way a business behaves is not separate from individual ethics—the same principles apply.

Lang went on to discuss how a business’ ethics and moral principles will serve as the foundation of its reputation and how the status of that reputation can translate into profits for the company. “Businesses that hold the highest ethical standards inspire trust and confidence. And when they establish a reputation of honesty, word of mouth brings in more business,” he said. “In that way, honesty pays.” Lang tied honesty to integrity, which he defined as reliability. “Integrity is when you know that someone is going to the do the right thing,” he said.

Also within this spectrum of ethics is civility. “Civility is respect for others,” he said. “And it envelops the concepts of honesty and integrity. They are all different concepts within a greater whole.” Lang said that civility is a respectful posture towards both customers and competitors. “We have to respect our adversaries,” he said. He also described civility by giving examples of its opposite: incivility. He cited the statistic that managers of Fortune 1000 companies typically spend seven weeks of every year dealing with the aftermath of incivility. “That’s lost productivity,” Lang said. “And it means that businesses must begin to manage, teach, and hire for civility.”

Finally, Lang discussed his decades-long career as a lawyer and the rewards and challenges he faced along the way. “To begin, law school will be the three most difficult years of your life,” he said. “It will be the hardest work you will have done.” Lang advised students interested in a law career to do their research. “Learn about what it really means to be a lawyer. Don’t just base your idea from what you’ve seen on TV” he said. “Read law magazines, go to law websites, and talk to lawyers about what they do.” Lang also said that working part time at a law firm can give students a clearer picture of what a career in law would be like.

Lang sees the future of the legal profession as more of the same. “There will always be real estate lawyers needed for the buying and selling of dirt,” he said. “And the amount of regulations on businesses–things like environmental laws and building codes–is only going to increase.”

Lang also said that there will always be a need for litigation and appeals, what he called hard, strenuous work that can be depleting and not always rewarding. “Losing is like being kicked in the head a thousand times,” he said. “But winning is—wow!”
The University of Dallas Executives on Campus program was founded to further the University’s mission of providing practice-based education, by inviting successful business leaders to share their experience with graduate and undergraduate students in the classroom. Through this program, alumni, business leaders, and their companies are invited to partner with the University in our shared pursuit of management excellence. For more information, click here.

Executives on Campus: Matt Victorine, Vice President and Relationship Manager, Fidelity Institutional Wealth Services

Executives on Campus: Matt Victorine, Vice President and Relationship Manager, Fidelity Institutional Wealth Services

According to Matt Victorine (BA ‘91), relationship selling is really needs-based selling. “Sometimes you just have to stop talking and listen for cues as to what the customer needs,” he said. “And then present solutions based on those needs.” Victorine, Vice President and Relationship Manager for Fidelity Institutional Wealth Services, spoke on March 29 to Dr. Laura Munoz’s undergraduate marketing class as part of UD’s Executive’s on Campus program.

In Victorine’s current role, his responsibility is to maintain and grow relationships with individual brokers who use Fidelity’s platform to manage their clients’ assets. “The sales team are like hunter/gatherers. They work on bringing in new brokers.” he said. “From there, I take over the relationship and work with the brokerage firm to determine how FIdelity’s suite of practice management tools can help them grow their business. I get resources from the inside to the outside. Hopefully, this will translate to more business for the firm and more business for Fidelity.”

In response to a question from the group about different sales approaches, Victorine pointed out that “sales training” is a billion-dollar industry. “You can see advertising for all sorts of courses and conferences that promise to teach you how to sell if you’ll just follow a certain process,” he said. “But, most large firms want to teach you their way of selling because they want consistency.” Victorine said this is the reason that most entry-level sales positions don’t require a particular degree. “History, philosophy–it doesn’t matter,” he said. “ As long as you’re eager to learn.”

Victorine polled the class about their jobs and internships. One student mentioned that he only took phone orders and wondered if that was really “sales.” “Every job is really sales,” Victorine said. “If you are the contact point with your company, you’re selling the company during that call. And,” he added, “you could always go for the upsell.”

Victorine also discussed the myriad opportunities at available at Fidelity for recent graduates, both in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and beyond. “Our Westlake campus employs over 6,700 people on a beautiful, 330-acre campus,” he said. According to Victorine, Fidelity has entry level sales positions in areas like retail investing and 401K customer service. “And the salaries are competitive,” he said. “It’s better than barista money.”

The University of Dallas Executives on Campus program was founded to further the University’s mission of providing practice-based education, by inviting successful business leaders to share their experience with graduate and undergraduate students in the classroom. Through this program, alumni, business leaders, and their companies are invited to partner with the University in our shared pursuit of management excellence. For more information click here.

Executives on Campus: Doug Lattner, Former Deloitte CEO

Executives on Campus: Doug Lattner, Former Deloitte CEO

University of Dallas students often hear about the importance of critical thinking. At a meeting on March 28, Doug Lattner (MBA ’73), former CEO of consulting firm Deloitte, told the university’s Accounting and Finance Society how to leverage a those critical thinking skills into a career as a consultant.

“What consultants do is help businesses solve complex challenges,” he said. “But good ideas aren’t enough. Those ideas have to executable.” That’s where critical thinking comes in. According to Lattner, consultants work with clients to drive positive change within the client’s organization by assisting with things like financial strategy or mergers and acquisitions. Consultants transfer their knowledge to their clients, and businesses value the objectivity that consultants bring to the table.

According to Lattner, consulting companies like Deloitte have changed their hiring process over the years. “When I started out,” he said. “I went straight from undergrad to graduate school and then was hired by a consulting firm.” Now, according to Lattner, consulting firms would prefer that an undergraduate gain work experience before pursuing an MBA. “This way, you can draw on your experience during your MBA program to give more relevance to what you’re learning,” he said.

When hiring entry-level consultants, Lattner said that firms like Deloitte are looking for a number of things: strong academic performance, the ability to think critically about a problem, and a combination of qualitative and quantitative skills. “If you’ve focused mostly on accounting, take a business strategy class. If you have been focusing on strategy, make sure to include technology classes as well,” he said. As far as personality traits, Lattner said that once a consultant gets that entry-level position, the firm will be looking to promote those who are hardworking and diligent. “They want someone who is always driving the ball,” he said. “That’s how you’ll get noticed.”

Lattner explained that as consultants move up the ranks at Deloitte, they gain experience in various practice fields that might interest them, in the same way a college freshman might experiment with different classes to settle on a major. “In the beginning, you may dabble in technology, energy, telecom or healthcare,” he said. “It’s important to find an area that interests you and in which you can share your skill set.” But as consultants move into management roles, they become subject-matter experts in their practice areas. For example, Lattner said that Deloitte has nurses and physicians consulting in their healthcare practice segment. “Imagine the credibility they could bring to a healthcare client,” he said.

Lattner went on to describe a consultant’s typical work week. “Consultants spend four days per week at the client’s site, then come back to the office on the fifth day,” he said. But Lattner emphasized that a consultant’s number one job is to meet the expectations of the client. “That means consulting is not an 8 to 5 job.”

But although consulting can be a demanding career, Lattner has found it to be rewarding as well. “If you want to be in a cube all day, don’t be a consultant,” he said. “But if you want to travel and gain experience across a variety of cultures, consulting can give you that.”

The University of Dallas Executives on Campus program was founded to further the University’s mission of providing practice-based education, by inviting successful business leaders to share their experience with graduate and undergraduate students in the classroom. Through this program, alumni, business leaders, and their companies are invited to partner with the University in our shared pursuit of management excellence. For more information, click here.