Interviews With Executives

In 1999, armed with a PhD and post-doc training in life sciences, an idea, and no previous work experience outside of academia, Dr. Steve Sun partnered with his fellow biochemist, Dr. Amy Liao, to form GENEWIZ in a 300 square foot lab. Now GENEWIZ is the leading player in the global DNA sequencing industry. Currently with several hundred employees, the company is rapidly expanding globally, keeping pace with the rise of biotech and pharma research, particularly in Asia. Dr. Sun (CEO) and Dr. Liao (COO) have been so effective in their leadership that both were recently awarded the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year® 2010 Award in the Service category for New Jersey.

We spoke with Dr. Sun and explored his perspective on business growth and evolution, coaching, and leadership development. His warmth was as evident as was his clear desire to always develop. Near the end of our conversation, he asked for feedback on how he could improve, underscoring his conviction that “leaders have to want to evolve.” more...

LP Frieder is the COO of Gentex Corporation, which is headquartered in Simpson, Pennsylvania. The company has been privately held for three generations, and LP is the fourth generation involved in the business. Engaged with Growth River since early 2009, Gentex has undergone major restructuring, positioned itself successfully against the largest corporations in its space, and won a major new contract with the federal government. But it is the establishment of new values—“the DNA” as LP calls it—across the enterprise of 700 employees that is the source of their sustained success. Among his many priorities, orchestrating the adoption of new values is “number one because it’s at the heart of how to get better at execution. It drives results.

We spoke with LP about leadership mindsets, executive coaching, enterprise evolution, and his unique understanding of the change process within the senior leadership team and across the broader enterprise. more...

An Interview with Alex Hunter, CEO, Ethos Partners

Alex Hunter took Ethos Partners, a healthcare services company, from zero to $36m in five years, and sold it this month to Navigant Consulting. He has led several companies over his 22-year career. He conveys that experience with a style that is both direct and unassuming, describing how founders and CEOs have to evolve in order to successfully lead others. As he states emphatically, "An organization is simply not going to grow beyond it's leadership."

He spoke to us about factors that lead to failure and to success, why a clear system-of-roles is essential for growth, and how executive coaching has enabled him to negotiate conflict and cultivate an environment of trust and creativity among his leadership team. more...

An Interview with Randy Jordan, CEO of HOPE worldwide

Randy Jordan is at the helm of an international charity that works in 72 countries, employs over 2000 people, and coordinates volunteerism from among a community of 50,000 Christians. Meeting him does not reveal his years in the rather unforgiving environs of senior partnership in a successful DC law firm. It instead reveals a dignified and focused commitment to relieving the burden of poverty around the world. A few days ago, in responding to an article about a new US-created university in contentious North Korea, he emailed us, "We don't do work in North Korea but I carry a rare piece of North Korean currency in my wallet as a reminder of the need."

He spoke to us about the clarifying use of shared business language, the Enterprise Map as a powerful tool for building and aligning his executive team, and the relationship between executive coaching and enterprise restructuring. more...