September 8, 2000

Bain Chief Speaks at C.U.

Print More

The Johnson Graduate School of Management resumed its Park Leadership Series yesterday at Rockefeller Hall when Orit Gadeish, chair of the Boston-based consulting firm Bain and Company, came to speak to students.

Gadeish devoted most of her speech to a concept she has termed “True North” — a company’s guiding principles and a quality that is derived from the organization and its leaders.

True North is “the one thing that remains constant in an organization, its guiding principles,” she said.

This concept is not only useful in business but in life as well, she added.

Whether in good times or in bad the principles of True North must remain constant, Gadeish explained. Like a mission statement, True North actually goes one step further than the basis of a company’s founding statement.

“In many places, it is an inspiration hung on a wall. It’s what you do with it that counts,” she said.

Later during the afternoon presentation, Gadeish encouraged the audience to question themselves. “Do you act on the things you say and believe?” she asked.

That precise question had presented itself to Bain and Company during a financial crisis in the early 1990s. Only by returning to the principle of True North was Gadeish able to resolve company problems. Coincidentally, it was at that time that the company also learned about the importance of group confidence.

She insisted that people need to believe in the company as well as in themselves.

In addition to this presentation, Gadeish sat in on a class yesterday, NCC 554 – Operations and Management. She also spent time answering questions for the 60 Park Fellowship students in the Johnson School.

Many students who spent time with her responded positively to her ideas.

“What she says is truthful, and it shows. I got a good look at how important principles are in leading a company, not only in the everyday but in troubled times,” said John Covey grad.

Alice Curry, grad agreed.

“She’s an impressive woman,” Curry said. “Obviously everyone at Bain has a lot of confidence in her.”

The speech was the first of three or four during this year’s Park Leadership Series. Jim Johnson from Fannie Mae will visit Cornell on Nov. 16, and then Ben Zander of the Boston Philharmonic will speak in February.

The program may add one more speaker to its lineup before the year is over.

Clint Sidle ’74, director of the Park Leadership Fellows Program, coordinated the events of the day.

“We like people from across the campus to show up because the message is always really good, and we want the speakers to have a good experience at Cornell,” he said.

This is the fourth year of the series named for Roy Park, a founder of Duncan Hines and Park Communications. The Park family provides the University a stipend each year to support the program.

Archived article by Michael Khan