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News & Events

Leadership keynote greets new students

By Matt Golosinski

9/7/2005 - "Leadership is all about people," said Fred McCoy '81, president of Cardiac Rhythm Management at Guidant Corp., in a Sept. 7 keynote address that helped kick off the Kellogg School's new academic year.

Speaking to a capacity crowd of primarily first-year Kellogg students in Owen L. Coon Forum on the Evanston campus as part of the school's pre-term orientation, Mr. McCoy shared his professional insights on management and life, saying that effective leaders focus not only on end results, but also on creating a successful organizational culture, defined as "what people do and why they do it."

CIM Week Keynote Speaker
Fred McCoy '81 President of Cardiac Rhythm Management at Guidant Corp. 09/07/05
He described the important ways that leaders and their teams move from everyday experiences to build belief systems that lead to actions and ultimately results within a firm.

Citing his own company, the Indianapolis-based designer and developer of cardiovascular medical products, Mr. McCoy said that Guidant has built a "culture of accountability." This culture, he said, is particularly important given that the firm's products must stand up to intense scrutiny and deliver results in critical situations.

Students who aspire to be architects of such culture must first develop a foundation of self-awareness and knowledge, said Mr. McCoy. "Everybody can rise to leadership," he said, but people are not born leaders.

To advance along the leadership path, the Kellogg alum offered advice that included gaining a sense of history, developing "personal courage," learning from experienced leaders and living a full life.

Mr. McCoy urged students to acquire the historical perspective necessary to put today's events and challenges into proper context, and to learn how others have grappled with similar hurdles. He noted that his personal role models, including Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt and John Adams, were not necessarily perfect, but like all good leaders they displayed "enduring qualities" that gave them the tools to serve during difficult times.

Defying the conventional wisdom that counsels achieving a work-life balance, Mr. McCoy told the Kellogg audience to "search for passion...not balance."

Kellogg students will not have to look far to find passion, especially this week and next as the school's annual pre-term orientation experience is underway. As is tradition, the Kellogg School academic year begins with Conceptual Issues in Management (CIM), a rousing, eclectic two-week program that introduces new students to the Kellogg culture and curriculum by offering a variety of social, educational and hands-on leadership opportunities.