Birthplace: Rockford, Ill.
Education: MBA, Northern Illinois University; B.A., Augustana College, Rock Island, Ill.
First job: Stockboy in a grocery store
What has been your greatest business challenge?
There were two. One was early on in my career; I took on a job to develop the housing division for Lutheran Social Services of Illinois. I was so young; I had no idea what success or failure could be. I never thought about anything but success, and I never knew the risks. As I think back, I think about how very naive I was when I took that on, and I was very fortunate to be successful.
Then, in my later career in health care, I was part of a leadership team that took on a hospital system that was substantially in the red; I mean substantially. We had the fortunate ability in working with our board to develop a three-year workout plan, which we were able to accomplish ahead of schedule. It was really a very time-intensive and work-intensive three years to move from a substantial red loss to an operational positive bottom line.
Those two experiences both helped shape me in different ways and gave me the fortitude to take on some challenges.
What is the most important business lesson you have learned?
The honesty and integrity you bring forth will reward you later. I find that if you have a series of internal rules and regulations that have high honesty and high integrity, they will reward you more and be guidelines to your success more than cutting corners.