Holistic leadership development has been a critical focus of the Broad College’s Executive MBA program for decades. In 2019, Broad Enterprise Leadership was launched to emphasize this focus on developing leaders who are well equipped to see and respond to macro issues, to lead and influence across their organization and to act in ethical ways to make bigger, deeper and broader positive impacts.
One key element of this experience is a series of C-Suite Conversations that connect industry leaders in a Q&A dialogue with students. On May 15, Dean Sanjay Gupta engaged in a virtual discussion with two Broad alumni: Craig Menear, chairman, president and CEO of The Home Depot, and Mike Genord, president and CEO of HAP and executive vice president of Henry Ford Health System.
Topics of the discussion were reactions to COVID-19, operational changes and predictions for the future of their respective industries; leadership qualities and defining moments that have emerged not only during this crisis but also throughout their careers; and reflections on their time at MSU.
Menear (B.A. Personnel Administration ’79) has been with Home Depot — the world’s largest home improvement store, with 400,000 associates — since 1997 and has served as CEO since 2014. He shared that the company’s culture has been his north star throughout the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“We try to reinforce the culture in everything we do, every single day… it’s the leadership team’s job to support our customers and frontline associates and take away the burdens that they face every day,” Menear said.
This culture of putting the customer and frontline associates first has guided every decision Menear and his leadership team have had to make through the crisis — everything from freezing prices on essential products to reducing operating hours by 25% to canceling all spring events during the height of their selling season.
In his role at HAP and Henry Ford Health System, Genord (MBA ’13) explained that there are many lessons to be learned from this crisis that could stand to improve the health-care industry overall.
“Right now, we’re under a fee-for-service model, but it should be a value-based model,” he said. “We need to reach out to patients that are most at-risk and direct resources to those who are most in need instead of patients reaching out when they are seeking care.”
When asked about how they have transitioned to roles with increasing responsibility throughout their careers, both Menear and Genord had the same strategy: listen.
“All you do in the beginning is listen,” Menear said. “Hear what is going well and what’s not going well.”
In addition, both alumni speakers considered this time of crisis a unique opportunity for EMBA students to seize the moment and step up.
“Spend this time being energized to bring solutions to the organization and make a difference right now to help the business,” Genord said. “Close your eyes and envision where you want to be — then go get it.”
Finally, they each reminisced about their time at MSU, sharing highlights that defined their journey as Broad Spartans. Menear looked back on his four years living in Hubbard Hall and shared how his specialty in human resources became more valuable the longer he has gone in his career.
“I never worked in the human resources space, but that’s OK because it’s all about people,” Menear said. “Success is determined by the people you surround yourself with.”
Genord shared how he went through the Executive MBA program at 43 years old after 17 years of private practice, which changed the trajectory of his career.
“The EMBA helped me understand I had leadership qualities and the ability to do things I hadn’t thought about,” Genord said. “It gave me the confidence to have a second career and do something bigger.”