Students in The School of Hospitality Business had the opportunity to hear from an industry leader with a 35-year career with Gordon Food Service when Dave Dow returned to campus to speak in Dr. Ron Cichy’s HB 489 – Hospitality Business Strategy classes on Monday, April 3, 2017.
During his career with GFS, Dave served in a number of leadership positions, including district sales representative; general sales manager; director of sales, marketing, national chains and procurement; EVP and GM of the Great Lakes Division; and senior VP of sales for GFS Canada. In The School, Dave is known as “Professor Dow,” because he invented and taught HB 347 – Food Distribution for five years before taking his final position at GFS and then retiring.
Professor Dow’s presentations focused on the essential managing concept “Servant Leadership,” which he said defines someone who “wants to serve first,” not someone who wants to be a leader first – whose first goals are perhaps power or material possessions. Characteristics of a servant leader include someone who listens, who is empathetic, who “walks their talk,” who treats people with respect, who teaches, and who is honest. At the same time, Professor Dow said, a servant leader is concerned with actions that get results and is able to make tough decisions. Professor Dow’s discussion about Servant Leadership was drawn from several life experiences, both in his stellar career, as well as in his personal life. He recounted numerous stories that helped students remember key points of Servant Leadership.
Values are the cornerstones of Servant Leadership, according to Professor Dow. He said, “Without a set of values, you have no foundation on which to base your decisions, allocate your time or use your resources. You will tend to make choices based on circumstances, pressures, or your mood at the time.” With values, a leader will be able to gather and build up good people around him/her. And that affects results.
Professor Dow closed his discussions with some wise advice for the students. He urged them to remember that “behavior begets behavior.” He encouraged them to be a positive influence on others; to surround themselves with strong teams; to remember their roots; to laugh at themselves; to treat people fairly and be honest with them; and to be active listeners. The Professor even quoted Albert Schweitzer, who said, “I don’t know what your destiny will be – but one thing I do know. The only ones among you who will really be happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.”
“Professor Dow is always an inspiring industry leader whose message to the students can be applied to their lives immediately,” says Dr. Cichy. “He has an engaging, interactive style, which allows students to let down their guards and participate. He uses real-world, personal stories that are touching and relevant. Professor Dow is an authentic Servant Leader.