Terry Horan (EMBA '05)
Chairman, President and CEO
Robert Bosch Tool Corporation
Terry Horan ’05, chairman, president and CEO, Robert Bosch Tool Corporation
Terry Horan worked for many years in sales and marketing for U.S. tool and paint manufacturers and held the title of senior vice president of marketing for Rust-Oleum Corporation at the time he entered the EMBA program. After graduation he served as president of the rotary tool division of Robert Bosch Tool before named to his present position in January 2011. Robert Bosch Tool is part of the German conglomerate Bosch Group, headquartered in Stuttgart.
Already established in your career, what was the impetus for pursuing an Executive MBA? What was the desired result?
At the time I applied, my career was very focused on sales and marketing. I wanted to become more well-rounded to prepare for a future general-management role. I wanted to learn more about finance and operations, things I hadn’t had a lot of exposure to. It seemed like a good investment.
As a graduate, did the program help you accomplish your goal?
Yes, clearly. It positioned me well for the position I had when I joined Bosch and also for the position I’m in now. It certainly was an asset in making me a candidate to lead the company.
Your experience was unique in that you attended the program in our Chicago classroom. Did the location affect your affiliation with Notre Dame? And how did the Chicago experience compare to the on-campus four-week immersion?
The Chicago program enabled me to attend Notre Dame while living and working in the Chicago area. I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.
It was a great experience. You have a lot of interaction with your classmates; you do half of your learning just from that. That ability to sit with 60 peers and learn about new experiences from them opens your eyes to other people’s companies and careers and backgrounds.
The time spent on the Notre Dame campus was a very strong part of the program. It only deepens your appreciation of the university as you could kind of live the culture and experience it firsthand.
What was that like to “go back to school” as an executive? And what was it like to collaborate with executives from varying organizations?
At the beginning, it was terrifying. I honestly felt Notre Dame was at a caliber that made it a stretch school for me. But that’s why I wanted to go there. I wanted to challenge myself. So before my arrival there were some anxious moments, but it was exciting also because I grew up in Chicago in an Irish-Catholic family that watched Notre Dame football every Saturday. The fact that I was going to go to that school felt to me to be a great accomplishment.
The interaction part – as I mentioned before, that’s half the program. I met people who were really brilliant in different fields, in areas I knew little about. The group work was the chance to really build on each other’s strengths and really learn from experts.
Describe the experience in terms of logistics: How did you balance the rigorous curriculum with your existing career and other responsibilities, such as family?
It definitely takes a strong commitment – not just from yourself but from your company; they’re giving up part of your time. And definitely from your family – you can’t do it without support from both. When weekends are spent doing homework instead of kids’ events, that’s a sacrifice the whole family is making. But it’s a year and a half, and a year and a half goes pretty quickly.
What elements of the program made the biggest impact on you, both personally and professionally?
Personally, the weeklong Executive Integral Leadership program that Leo Burke led was very meaningful to me because I was able to get a lot of feedback from colleagues I work with. The whole week was kind of shaped around going beyond the classical curriculum of an MBA to more bigger-picture aspects of business and how business should be conducted. It was a bit of a retreat for me. I found everybody in our class to be very open to getting the most out of that week. That was a great personal experience. I made friendships that I keep to this day.
Professionally, it would definitely be strengthening my education portfolio to include more on the financial side of the business, especially given the (divisional president) role I was about to move into. I was able to apply everything I had learned immediately upon graduation.
How have you taken the lessons learned through the EMBA program and applied them to your current position and organization? What has been the feedback from your colleagues and/or staff? How has it impacted your career trajectory?
For sure it impacted the trajectory of my career. Other than that, one of the key messages in the Notre Dame program is to do the right thing and to manage in that way. Whenever you’re faced with a difficult decision or dilemma, always fall back on that as a guiding principal. That’s something I definitely share with others here and try to spread throughout the organization culturally.
Of the other things … one of the tools we learned specifically in a marketing course taught by (Professor) Joe Urbany we’ve put in place here and it’s helping us map out strategic directions.
What advice would you give to a prospective EMBA candidate?
Be prepared for a lot of work, don’t underestimate the commitment you’re making, and be very actively involved with your classmates because there’s as much to learn from them as from the program. But enjoy the ride, it’s a fast one.