Honoring the leaders of today, who inspire the leaders of tomorrow.
On November 29, 2016, Junior Achievement, along with the business community, honored the Central Ohio Business Hall of Fame’s two newest Laureates: Dr. Steve Allen, CEO of Nationwide Children’s Hospital, and Alex Fischer, CEO and President of Columbus Partnership.
Joining a distinguished group of noted Central Ohio business and community leaders, the two were selected by past Laureates based on criteria including demonstrated business excellence, visionary and innovative leadership, and community involvement. In the selection process, past Laureates praised Fischer as a “shepherd, integrator, thought leader, and true leader of leaders.” Allen was noted for his focused, caring, and collaborative leadership.”
The induction was co-hosted by elementary, middle, and high school JA students whose skilled presentations to over 400 people provided those in attendance a glimpse of the positive impact of JA programming.
Also honored that evening were Volunteer of the year Roger Madison, Founder and CEO of iZania, and Educator of the Year Samantha Smith, Internship Coordinator at Columbus Alternative High School.
“I’m doing what I love, I’m doing what I do well, and the children we serve certainly need the programs that JA offers. The fulfillment for me is far greater than any compensation I could receive…I want to thank the kids I worked with for letting me be a part of getting them ready for the business of life,” spoke Roger Madison upon receiving his award.
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In a highlight of the event, the two Laureates joined Cristo Rey High School senior Arturo Vallejo and JA Board Chair Dwight Smith for a panel discussion regarding leadership and the community’s role in guiding future leaders. Vallejo participated in the JA Company Program and Dwight Smith is a JA alumnus and founder of Sophisticated Systems, Inc. Following are excerpts from that engaging and informative dialogue.
[caption id="attachment_146" align="aligncenter" width="5071"] From left to right: Dr. Steve Allen, CEO of Nationwide, Arturo Vallejo, Cristo Rey High School Senior, Alex Fischer, CEO and President of the Columbus Partnership, Dwight Smith, Founder, President, and CEO of Sophisticated Systems Inc.[/caption]
Vallejo: As CEO of a school spirit store, I felt very accountable managing my company’s finances and inventory. As CEO’s yourselves, I’d like to know, what keeps you up at night?
Fischer: I think the responsibilities that go with serving the community and the pressure that you put on yourself to make sure you get it right and are achieving on behalf of those who are relying on you can often be an overwhelming feeling that may jolt you awake in the middle of the night. You want to make sure you don’t disappoint the community that you’re serving, but rather serve it with distinction.
Allen: I have a great deal of confidence in the remarkable people who work at the hospital. What I do worry about is the safety of our patients and our staff. There are many things in a complex environment like contemporary healthcare that can go awry and it’s very important that management leadership has a very intense focus on ensuring that it is safe for everyone who comes in through the doors.
Vallejo: What about when things do go wrong? How do you stay calm when there’s a whole company that’s looking up to you as the leader and things don’t go the way they need to?
Allen: From painful experience, I’ve learned that when things don’t go the way I want, invariably it’s because I did not explain my expectations very clearly. One of the challenges in management is to make sure that staff understands exactly what you expect of them. Of course, if I set up expectations with the staff, I need to follow up and say “How did that go?” If I don’t follow up and hold them accountable, they’ll think I don’t think it’s important. So it’s a two-way interaction.
Fischer: I think curveballs inevitably come your way. You have to fall back on your basic principles and the teams that you’ve built to be able to help you lead in crisis. You have to have confidence that the plans you put in place will see you through an outcome. But you also have to not be so rigid that you’re unable to adjust and make shifts in your strategy as you go along with the unexpected.
Smith: The workplace and job trends are changing at such a dramatic pace, what can we do to be better prepared for the future?
Fischer: As I think about how the world is changing and how quickly that change is coming our way, I think it requires us to think about the preparation of our workforce in different ways. I believe that teamwork is more important today than it was decades ago when single individuals could perhaps get more done. It’s being able to adjust to a world of chaos and know that it’s ok not to know exactly what the answer might look like tomorrow or next week or next year, and be comfortable with that. Making sure that our young students and leaders have the experiences that get them comfortable in those sometimes uncomfortable settings in which the outcome can’t be predicted is very important in this society we’re living in and in which change is happening so rapidly.
Allen: I’d add is that it’s a key job of leadership to articulate a compelling vision that says, “This is where we’re going to go. We may not know the exact roads we’re going to take to get there, but here’s where we’re trying to get to.” I always did better when I believed that leadership had thought this through - it gave me the confidence to be able to deal with whatever came along our way.
Vallejo: As a future leader myself, what is my role in the Columbus Smart City initiative?
Fischer: Smart Cities was a great opportunity for Columbus to compete with 78 cities around the country, and win the ability to demonstrate where the future of mobility and transportation is headed. Whether you’re riding the Smart Bus, buying an electric vehicle, or getting on an autonomous vehicle that’s going to transport you without a driver, there are so many things we’re going to be demonstrating to a world that is watching us. There’s a place in Smart Cities for everybody. Our hope is that all residents of Columbus will begin to think about how they can showcase our city.
Allen: With health care a lot of our business is going to depend on being better able to mine the advanced analytics of all the data that we now can capture and will continue to capture in the future. We’re very excited about how this [Smart City Initiative] will further improve our ability to deliver high quality healthcare to all the children in Franklin County.
Smith: What an appropriate way to honor our current leaders and inspire our future leaders. Thank you, gentlemen, for this discussion.
The 2016 JA of Central Ohio Business Hall of Fame rose over $178,000 which will go toward getting kids ready for the business of life.
Junior Achievement congratulates our two newest Laureates and looks forward to their continued contributions to the Central Ohio community. Save the Date for November 16, 2017 where two more Laureates will be inducted into the Central Ohio Business Hall of Fame.
[caption id="attachment_144" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Congratulations to all of our 2016 Central Ohio Business Hall of Fame Awardees![/caption]