University of Southern California

Navigating Change
Leadership Summit Addresses Challenges of Complex Business Landscape
May 3, 2012 • by News at Marshall

"Every single day, I think I’ve wrapped my head around what’s changed in the world — technological changes, the convergence of technologies, the blurring of the windows that we have to release our product in television and motion pictures — and then things change again," said Dean Hallett '80, Marshall Partners vice chairman and executive vice president, operations and strategy, and CFO for Fox Filmed Entertainment. "Complexity is getting greater and greater, and it’s taking more and more deep analysis and insights and ideas in order to deal with it."

With those introductory remarks, Hallett set the stage for the sixth annual USC Marshall School of Business Leadership Summit exploring the theme of "Navigating the Landscape of Competition, Complexity and Change." Held at the JW Marriott at L.A. Live on April 11, the event drew a broad array of Marshall alumni, including numerous Marshall Partners and MBA graduates, for a day of presentations by industry leaders and Marshall faculty covering topics as diverse as health care, media and mountain climbing. As one MBA.PM graduate remarked, the opportunity to ask industry leaders questions and network with fellow alumni was also a major draw for the event.

Dave Logan, a lecturer in Marshall’s Executive MBA program and co-founder and senior partner of management consulting firm CultureSync, kicked things off with a presentation titled “Tribal Leadership: Hacking Your Organization’s Culture,” which he has given as a TED Talk based on his 2008 book "Tribal Leadership." "

"Culture is the single biggest determinant of success in an organization, yet only 7 percent of business tribes are wired to learn their way into changing the world," Logan said. He described specific strategies to "hack into tribes" — small, naturally occurring groups within a company — and take employees to the point where they share values and can think about ways the company can "make history."

Chris Lischewski BS ’82/MBA ’86 has discovered a number of keys to organizational effectiveness as president and CEO of Bumble Bee Foods, North America’s largest branded shelf-stable seafood company and founding participant of the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation. He shared five criteria for success with the audience: a motivated, strong team; a lean organizational structure that allows good communication and rapid decision making; sticking to core competencies; pushing the envelope and taking calculated risks; and recognizing errors, admitting them and moving on.

The conversation moved to a subject consistently in the news, when Sriram Dasu, associate professor of information and operations management at Marshall, provided background on the health care industry and then was joined by panelists James Mintie ’81, Marshall Partners South Bay/Long Beach vice chairman and senior vice president of Mintie Corporation/Mintie Technologies Inc., and Gary Lauer ’76, chairman and CEO of eHealth Inc. Especially with the uncertainty of the Affordable Care Act in the hands of the Supreme Court right now, Americans are keenly aware of some of the problems with the system, including the fact that we spend more money per person on health care than any other nation in the world and that 50 million people are uninsured. Whatever the outcome of the ACA, Lauer pointed out that health care is big business; the only bigger industry in America is agriculture. Health care is also becoming a consumer-centric business, with more and more individuals responsible for procuring insurance. "There are a lot of challenges in health care, but from a business perspective, that means a lot of opportunities," Lauer said.

In a media-focused session, Lucy Hood, executive director of the USC Marshall Institute for Communication Technology Management, shared the results of CTM surveys on media usage and 10 tech trends to watch. She introduced David Dale, executive vice president of MTVX, which works with groups across MTV, including television production, digital, marketing, ad sales, integrated marketing and consumer products to provide content across all devices. Dale addressed some of the challenges in the “screen trade.”

Finally, Paul ’92 and Denise Fejtek, co-authors of “Steps to the Summit: Reaching the Top in Business and Life,” took the discussion of leadership to new heights. After reaching the summit of Mt. Everest, the highest point on Earth at 29,029 feet, the Fejteks joined a small, elite group of climbers who have scaled all of the Seven Summits, the highest peaks on each of the seven continents. Paul, who also works as a managing director at Hunter Wise Financial Group, and Denise, who specializes in corporate leadership development retreats, shared insights into managing risk and creating a winning team that can take you to the top in any field.

Summit sponsors included the USC Marshall School of Business, Marshall Partners, Leventhal School of Accounting, Marshall Executive Education and Pacific Western Bank.

About the USC Marshall School of Business
Consistently ranked among the nation's premier schools, USC Marshall is internationally recognized for its emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation, social responsibility and path-breaking research. Located in the heart of Los Angeles, one of the world's leading business centers and the U.S. gateway to the Pacific Rim, Marshall offers its 5,700-plus undergraduate and graduate students a unique world view and impressive global experiential opportunities. With an alumni community spanning 123 countries, USC Marshall students join a worldwide community of thought leaders who are redefining the way business works.