The Howard file Featured

8:00pm EDT October 25, 2007
Born: Waukesha, Wis.

Education: Bachelor’s degree, finance, University of Wisconsin-Madison

First job: Detasseling corn at age 14

Whom do you admire most in business and why?

No one person in particular. There are a lot of people that I admire who bring different attributes to their positions that I think allow them to be great. I admire them for different reasons, and they’re not just business professionals. So there isn’t any one person in particular, but there are certainly a lot of things that I want to emulate in my own professional career, so I either spend time with these individuals or read about them, but if you asked me, ‘Who’s your hero?’ I can’t name that person because there are a lot of people that satisfy that role.

What is the most significant challenge you’ve encountered in business?

Motivating and inspiring in times of trouble within an organization. In my opinion, the only way to overcome that is to lead with conviction. You can’t show your weakness. I’m a parent, and I have three children who are teenagers, and there are times when you are in a situation where your kids are looking to you for guidance or security or comfort, and even though you may not feel it, you look at them and say, ‘We’re fine; this is OK.’ It’s the same thing when leading an organization. The hardest times in business are when the company is facing a great challenge and you need to be motivating and inspiring in the face of that.