Gary Sheffer

Former VP of Communications & Public Affairs, General Electric

In a phone interview, Gary Sheffer observed that CEOs today can no longer succeed simply by being an operations expert or driving the highest profit margins. Now they must also have clearly defined values that they are willing to defend publicly. They also need to acknowledge that corporate culture no longer “trickles down” from the top – it must be shared by influencers at every level of a firm.

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Karen Tripp

VP of Communications and Public Affairs, ENVIVA

Tripp’s career is marked by her unique ability to command a seat in executive leadership positions for male-dominated fields that include engineering and energy. She identified three key philosophies for her success: accountability, preparedness and trust.  

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Courteney Monroe

Chief Executive Officer, National Geographic Global Networks

Monroe leads by communicating straightforward, ambitious goals and executing them flawlessly. She believes that unified efforts toward a goal start by communicating a shared vision—what she calls “the castle on the hill.”

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Jennifer Mauer

VP, Enterprise Transformation & Change Strategic Communications, Bristol-Myers Squibb

With so much uncertainty and ambiguity today, Mauer stresses the importance of giving the tools people need to get to where they need to go and that “you must have guts and courage to be a leader and a trusted advisor.”

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Keith Alper

CEO, CPG Agency

As with the quote widely attributed to G.B. Shaw, “The greatest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” Alper believes many times problems arise because companies think they are communicating when they are not, and the most critical component of communication is listening. 

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Gary Kelly

Chief Executive Officer, Southwest Airlines

It’s October 31, 2017 in Dallas, at Southwest Airlines headquarters. Employees are waiting for the chief executive to arrive. Gary Kelly, the fifth CEO in Southwest’s history, has been preparing for this encounter for hours... and arrives dressed as Thor. 

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Maureen Cragin

VP, Communications , Boeing Defense, Space & Security

A leader is a leader. There are certain things that are foundational for any leader to be respected by their peers, superiors and subordinates. The one quality I would put first is integrity. No matter what you’re doing or where you are, you need to do the right thing even when nobody's looking.

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Kelly McGrail

VP, Strategic Business Communications, Mars, Incorporated

My early career was like an “on-the-job MBA,” because I was given the opportunity to shoulder business responsibilities, not just communications responsibilities. I walked factory floors in my steel-toed boots, developed marketing plans for specialty agricultural products, saw how an innovation pipeline worked, and answered tough questions from analysts on business performance.  

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Kathy Beiser

Chief Communications Officer, Kaiser Permanente

With today’s current political and social climate, we have seen leaders who regularly avoid answering direct questions, fail to back up claims with facts, and, in some instances, downright lie. In a culture where dishonesty is just part of doing business, how do communications professionals maintain their authenticity, honesty, and values? Kathryn Beiser’s answer: “You just do.”

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Mitch Albom

Best-selling Author, Journalist & Philanthropist

There’s a point in Tuesdays With Morrie when Mitch notices Morrie’s visitors struggling, not knowing how to talk to a dying person. They’d start with an awkward joke or a story, trying to cheer him up. Morrie would ask about their lives and the conversation would shift.

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