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Dan Hesse, Chief Executive Officer, Sprint Nextel

September 3, 2009


Boardroom Insight: CEOs hold the power to do good

Dan Hesse, chief executive officer of Sprint Nextel, spoke on Sept. 3, 2009, in the Jordan Auditorium at the Mendoza College of Business.

Insight:  “If anything, corporate responsibility is the reason that you should want to be CEO of a big company someday. That’s the positive side of power; it’s the power to do good. “

  • As CEO, you are the lead brand person. You’re the person who needs to think about the brand and what the brand is; it’s everything that company stands for. Often as CEO or leader, you need to take an unusual position, particularly when the brand has been damaged. You need to stand out there in front of the world and say, “We’re going to be a new company. We’re going to repair some things that have been wrong in the past.”
  • As a CEO, not only do you have influence on your own company, you have an enormous amount of influence on your suppliers in terms of how they do business. You can require them to be green or greener if they do business with you.
  • If you take a look at green products, people love to buy them if they are great products. But they won’t buy them just because they are green if they are not as good as anything else out there.
  • I recommend that you begin your career in sales. I don’t think there is any job where you learn the business better. You have to know your product line, your competitors’ products and your customers’ needs. You learn your company and you learn your industry because you’re right out there on the front line.

Dan Hesse is chief executive officer of Sprint Nextel . His prior positions include chairman and CEO of Embarq Corp.; chairman, president and CEO of Terabeam Corp.; and president and CEO of AT&T Wireless Services. He spent 23 years in various positions at AT&T. Hesse has been named Wireless Industry “Person of the Year” by RCR magazine and “Executive of the Year” by Wireless Business and Technology magazine. He serves on the board of directors of Clearwire Corp., where Sprint is the largest shareholder, and on the National Board of Governors of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.  Hesse earned a master of science degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a master’s degree in business administration, with distinction, from Cornell University, and a bachelor of arts degree, with honors, from the University of Notre Dame.


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