Inspiring pace Featured

8:00pm EDT September 25, 2010

Inspired leadership has always been the key to Pittsburgh’s ability to overcome economic adversity and uncertainty. When that leadership is missing, the entire region suffers.

But from where do our leaders come? Colleges? Business schools? What about the streetwise, self-made entrepreneurs? Would you be surprised to learn that in the last decade, a new generation of leaders has been created by our military services?

Fortune, in its March 22, 2010, issue, devoted eight pages to the great business leaders being forged in the crucible of wartime experience that encourages independent and adaptive thinking. Fortune quotes Gen. David Petraeus, the man in charge of U.S. forces in Afghanistan: “Tell me anywhere in the business world where a 22- or 23-year-old is responsible for 35 or 40 other individuals on missions that involve life and death.”

Drawing business leaders from the military is not new, but it is not usually in the numbers that are currently moving from military services to business leadership. This, of course, is just one impact of the military on business, especially in western Pennsylvania.

According to retired U.S. Air Force Col. Jerry L. Kintigh, western Pennsylvania has a higher concentration of military servicemen and women on active duty, in the reserves or national guard, or retired than any other part of the state of Pennsylvania.

These western Pennsylvania military operations include U.S. Coast Guard, Air Force Reserve, Navy, Marine Corps and Pennsylvania Army National Guard, as well as three large military units, located right in Moon Township — one is 1,400 strong, and one employs more than 1,200 people. The region is also home to Expeditionary Sustainment Command, which is the logistics headquarters for all Army units reaching from Virginia to Maine, commanding the movements of 11,000 soldiers across 13 states.

These facts led to the theme of the 24th annual St. Barnabas CEO Leadership Conference: The Military Means Business. The economic impact of the military in our region is tremendous in the use of services, supplies and manpower — factors often overlooked in economic forecasts.

St. Barnabas is proud, once again, to partner with Smart Business Pittsburgh in recognizing 13 outstanding business leaders in three categories — emerging, midsized and large — through Smart Business’ annual Pacesetter Awards. These Pacesetters will be honored during the St. Barnabas CEO Leadership Conference on Sept. 20. At the close of the conference, the Pacesetter with the most outstanding story in each category will be revealed.

All 13 Pacesetters are profiled in this issue of Smart Business Pittsburgh. Please join me in congratulating these leaders for setting such an inspired pace for our region.

William V. Day is president and CEO of St. Barnabas Health System.