Alumni Spotlights Management Society Class Notes
Alumnus Named Citigroup CFO, Marriott School Honored Alumni
The value of a BYU management degree is like that of a diversified stock portfolio: it appreciates with time. The new CFO of Citigroup Inc., Gary Crittenden, graduated thirty years ago and has seen only good come from listing BYU on his résumé. “BYU has a very positive reputation in the business community and that reputation continues to broaden,” he says.
Increasing numbers of graduates like Crittenden enhance the Marriott School’s reputation through skillful and ethical performance in the business world. Because of his solid record of ability and integrity, the Marriott School will present Crittenden with the 2007 Honored Alumni Award during Homecoming week this fall.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Crittenden is known among investors and analysts as a man of integrity, and Citigroup’s chair and CEO Charles Prince called him “the best of the best” among today’s financial chiefs. Crittenden discovered his business acumen in college and developed it by earning a management degree from BYU in 1976 and an MBA from Harvard in 1979. As CFO of Sears, Roebuck and Co.; Monsanto Co.; and most recently American Express, he produced a consistent record of expert financial management.
Citigroup’s offer attracted him, he says, because he sees “a significant opportunity for the company to grow.” The company provides a broad range of products and financial services to about 200 million customers in more than one hundred countries. Crittenden’s job requires that he anticipate and plan for Citigroup’s future by positioning the company to benefit from dynamic global events. He says he enjoys being “involved on the front lines of what’s happening financially throughout the world.”
Balancing a demanding career, an expanding family, and service in the church requires careful planning. “Work has the potential to take all of our available time,” Crittenden says. “I try to define the things that are most important for me and ensure they are part of my weekly schedule.” Crittenden is a member of the school’s National Advisory Council, which promotes ethics, service, and leadership through management education. “I have seen the remarkable impact that BYU has on people,” he says. “It changes lives.”
Business School Dean Uses Mistake-Proofing to Save Lives
To err is human, but human errors in medicine can be dangerous or even deadly. Using a Japanese technique called poka-yoke (pronounced “po-ka yo-kay”) or mistake-proofing, medical professionals can make human mistakes much less harmful, according to Marriott School alum John Grout, dean of the Campbell School of Business at Berry College.
Even with great employees and active training, mistakes are inevitable, Grout says. Poka-yoke recognizes the inherent possibility of errors and works to make the results less disastrous. It often achieves those results by creating failures that stop the process before disaster strikes.
“Suppose you were riding in an elevator,” Grout says. “If it stopped between floors, you would call that a failure. But it’s a failure that’s preferable to falling to your death.”
The elevator brake is an early example of mistake-proofing. Elisha Otis, inventor of the elevator brake, had anticipated the possibility of the rope breaking and changed the outcome. The process has still failed because the passenger hasn’t arrived at the chosen floor, but the consequences are much less harmful.
Similarly, the consequences of human error in hospitals and care facilities can be changed to prevent harm. Much of Grout’s recent work deals with helping medical professionals apply mistake-proofing techniques. A federal agency is distributing his book on mistake-proofing health care processes to hospitals around the country. The book gives examples of medical mistake-proofing in action and teaches relevant mistake-proofing approaches.
For example, a simple thermostatic water shutoff valve can prevent attendants from drawing bathwater if the water temperature is too high. This creates a benign failure—the inability to start a bath—instead of a much more dangerous failure that could potentially result in a scalded patient. Another example is the practice of marking the correct location for a surgery before a patient is brought in. This simple step can prevent the traumatic problem of operating on the wrong side or in the wrong location.
“These problems can injure or kill patients,” Grout says. “I’m hoping this book will be a catalyst to help hospitals address failures in a whole new way.”
In July, Grout became dean of the Campbell School of Business at Berry College, which is located on more than 26,000 acres of forestland near Rome, Georgia. He has been a faculty member at the school since 1997. Grout earned his BS in business operations and systems analysis from BYU in 1984 and a doctorate from Penn State University. He recently received the Shingo Prize, named after the pioneer of poka-yoke, for his work with mistake-proofing.
In his limited spare time, Grout enjoys woodcarving. His favorite carving subjects are Jonah and the whale. He and his wife, Susan, have four children.
BusinessWeek Features Alumnus’ Improvements to Sales Process
When Matthew Bowman came to Sire Technologies in late 2005, the company’s sales were riding a roller coaster.
“Some quarters were great; others were horrific,” Bowman recently told BusinessWeek SmallBiz.
Sire Technologies, based in Salt Lake City, sells software to government agencies that have notoriously long approval cycles. As director of sales and marketing, Bowman’s task is to ensure long-term growth and to make the sales process—which can last up to eighteen months—more predictable.
As a Marriott School alumnus with a BS in business administration and an emphasis in information systems, he knew that having the right information would be essential.
“Whenever you’re in a position of leadership, the more relevant, actionable information you have in your hands, the better decisions you’re going to make,” Bowman says. “As a manager, you get inundated with a lot of data. The challenge becomes identifying the right data amidst all the peripheral information.”
Through analyzing every step of the selling process, Bowman found that salespeople tended to pursue a single group of prospects. As those prospects matured, there would be one good sales month, followed by a “drought.” Bowman implemented a process where salespeople divide their efforts among the right numbers of leads at each stage of development. They also use customized sales presentations to move clients through the process.
The result: significantly more and larger sales and better consistency. “My job is to help people reach their potential,” Bowman says. “Doing that translates into sustainable returns and growth for the company.”
His efforts caught the attention of BusinessWeek SmallBiz, which featured the success story at Sire along with suggestions for how similar techniques could help other businesses with long sales cycles.
A graduate from the Marriott School in 1992, Bowman says his education taught him principles that are especially valuable in today’s world. “The information you learn gets outdated pretty quickly, but the principles endure for a lifetime,” he says.
Bowman and his wife, LaDawn, live in Draper, Utah, and have three children: three-year-old twins and a newborn. In his spare time he is involved with a Utah corporation that helps parents prepare to defend their children against drugs. He also enjoys mountain biking and skiing.
As Bowman has pursued his career and learned from mentors, he says one thing has stood out: “Those who achieve and maintain success are those who remain teachable.”
MBA Alumna Uses NASCAR to Rev Up Tylenol Brand
In both her professional and personal life, Whitney Seamons, associate brand manager of the official pain reliever of NASCAR, keeps the pedal to the metal.
“Working in the consumer packaged goods industry is something I’m passionate about,” says the 2004 MBA class graduate. “And the more I learn about NASCAR racing and the strategy behind it, the more I love it too.”
Seamons discovered the world of brand management in the MBA program. After graduation she was also interested in sports marketing but proceeded down what she thought was a different path. Rubber met the road, however, when she took her second position within Johnson & Johnson and began managing the Tylenol brand and coordinating Tylenol’s marketing strategies in the NASCAR arena.
In addition, Seamons is laying the groundwork for Tylenol’s marketing blitz in the 2008 Olympic Games—another personal passion.
“I love my job,” she says. “I work with great people, and I get a chance to build great relationships with those people. These instances may be blips in my career radar, but I love them.”
Balancing the demands of her marketing career and family life means Seamons has to consistently fire on all cylinders. Seamons divides her time between her growing family, her profession, her church and community service, and teaching case studies at Pennsylvania’s Wharton School near her home.
“I don’t believe that life is ever completely balanced,” she comments. “You have to recognize where you are needed most and focus on that.”
Starting a family with her husband, Tyler, an airline pilot, has brought an entirely new element of life to balance—they had their first child in January 2006. “We constantly evaluate where we are,” she says. “I couldn’t do what I do if I didn’t have a great husband.”
Along with her family support, Seamons’ MBA experience was one of the best ways she could have prepared to face what she faces now.
“The BYU MBA helped me develop my business persona in a safe environment where I learned to be a leader and was a valued contributor within that organization,” she says. “It has made me a better mother, wife, and member of a community. It was truly one of my life’s defining moments.”
Photograph: Whitney Seamons and NASCAR driver Kevin Harvick.