The unfortunate events of the past week are about the future of the university. It will likely be several months before new leadership is in place, our relationship with state leaders can begin to heal and our path forward come into focus.
But our job here in the college remains unchanged: to ensure that students continue to learn, that faculty continue to make new discoveries, that our partners continue to help us co-create our culture of engagement and find the talent they need, that our graduates continue to get good jobs, and that we continue to tell our remarkable story.
UCF and its College of Business remain institutions on the rise because the people who work, study and volunteer here know that they are doing great things. Our best response to the uncertainty that lies ahead is to continue to charge on.
Last Tuesday we held our 20th Annual College of Business Hall of Fame Induction at Rosen Shingle Creek in front of 850 guests. The event celebrates our alumni, corporate partners, faculty, staff and students. It is extremely hard to get into our Hall of Fame. We have more than 60,000 alumni and less than 90 have received this honor.
As part of the induction, we ask each of our honorees to give our current UCF students some advice. The tip that stuck with me was from Rick Cardenas. Rick is CFO of Darden. From the day he attended UCF, Rick said he always knew he wanted to be a CFO of a Fortune 500 company. He told the attendees that focusing on your “next” job is a recipe for dissatisfaction. Instead, he suggested that students think about the very last job they want to have in your career. He commented that if you do this, you will see that there are many paths to get there and will be much more patient and satisfied along the journey. This strategy certainly worked for Rick. Maybe it can work for you too.
Tomorrow night is our 20th College of Business Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. We will induct three alums: Clint Bullock (General Manager and CEO of OUC), Jessica Blume (retired Vice Chairman and board member at Deloitte) and Rick Cardenas (CFO of Darden). They join a very exclusive club: The college has more than 60,000 alums and fewer than 80 are in the HOF. We will also honor some of our young entrepreneurs, honorable and notable Knights and corporate partners who help make us who we are today. We expect 850 guests.
Every so often though, there is someone whose contributions go way beyond the achievements of those we typically honor at the event. This brings me to Bob Case. Bob was a member of FTU’s charter class of 1970. He graduated with a degree in management and marketing and went on to leadership roles in a number of organizations, including Sears, Roebuck and Company in its heyday. That was more than enough to land him in the College’s Hall of Fame in 2002.
Bob sucks at retirement, so now he is President of Demetree Global. In his spare time, he is on my Dean’s Advisory Board, sits on the Hall of Fame Induction Committee and judges our Great Capstone Case Competition. He ran our Executive Development Center for a few years and helped create the Integrated Business Program. If there is an important task in the College that needs to be done, he is always willing to be part of the solution. Good thing, because Bob is one of the most insightful and sensible people I know. After all, he married Jan.
The Hall of Fame is meant to be a celebration of where we come from, who we are and what we aspire to be. I can think of no one who represents all three of those things better than Bob Case. In a very real way, his achievements have been our achievements. So, we are honoring him with a Lifetime Achievement Award, not because he’s done, but because both he and the College have barely gotten started….
Full disclosure– I am a two-time Michigan alum. I try to make it to Ann Arbor every year to see a game and catch the Detroit Tigers the next day. But not even the most ardent wolverine fan who watched Tom Brady play in college would have guessed that he’d turn into Tom Brady– He is quarterbacking his ninth Super Bowl as I write this post. If he wins, it will be win No. 6. (Bradshaw and Staubach each went 4-0. ) A win today makes it hard to argue that he’s not the G.O.A.T (greatest of all time).
It’s not just the appearances and wins. It’s that he has been doing this for 19 years. Maybe it’s his crazy diet. Maybe it’s because he is one of the most competitive people on the planet. Maybe it’s his humble leadership style ( e.g. he walks up and introduces himself to every new person in the locker room by saying: “Hi, I’m Tom Brady.” Message– everybody here puts their pants on the same way, me included.). Or, his willingness to take less in salary so he can surround himself with better talent (besides his wife makes more anyway).
But more than anything else, Tom Brady is adaptable. He leads a team willing to change what they do to exploit their opponent’s weaknesses. It doesn’t have to be about him, it’s about winning. And as he has gotten older, Brady has changed the way he plays to compensate for his declining athleticism. To be the G.O.A.T., you have got to change with the circumstances and times. That’s true whether you are a QB, student, faculty member or business leader.