Inside USD

San Diego CEOs Share Secrets for Success

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Will Dryden is the CEO of Coast Flight Training, a firm started in 2008 and now with 17 planes and a top-tier instructor team. Brian Rott is the CEO of Superior Onsite Services, Inc., a golf cart, utility and electric vehicle mobile repair company. What do they have in common?

Both firms made the San Diego Business Journal’s most recent list of the fastest-growing private companies in San Diego and shared some of their secrets for success at a May 22 breakfast sponsored by USD’s Master of Science in Executive Leadership (MSEL) program.

Dr. Sherry Nooravi (pictured), an organizational psychologist and principal consultant at Strategy Meets Performance, used the Business Journal’s list for a study on how the CEOs of fast-growing companies harness the power of culture in their organizations.

“When leaders take a look in the mirror, they have the potential of creating a culture that they’ve dreamed of, one that has a community of employees and customers moving in the same positive direction,” Nooravi told a group of 75 professionals that packed the Executive Classroom in Mother Rosalie Hill Hall (SOLES).

Both Dryden and Rott shared examples of how they’ve created their version of a successful corporate culture.

At Coast Flight Training, each student is given a bottle of water immediately after finishing a flight lesson. It’s a great moment to get “honest feedback” from both the pilot and student that helps improve the company’s service, Dryden said. Company officials also make sure to greet students upon both arrival and departure and to keep their office doors open. “If our door is open, they’ll come and tell you what you need to know.”

At Superior Onsite Services, Rott said he loves to “get his hands dirty,” by working directly with his employees and customers on the showroom floor. ”I’m just one of the guys. Most of the time people never recognize me as the CEO.”

Nooravi summarized her research into seven principles:

• They hire for the culture they want.

• Innovation is a part of everyday work and not an event.

• They’re in your face (in a good way).

• They develop their employees, even if it means they leave.

• They’re disciplined in tracking goals.

• Community and fun is a part of the job.

• They invite customers to join their community.

The insights provided at this event help to showcase USD’s MSEL program and what it provides to current and prospective students. It offers a combination of development in intra-and interpersonal skills, as well as the business technical acumen needed to lead organizations. The degree curriculum enhances a candidate’s strategic and collaborative ability, allowing him or her to unlock and sustain the power and potential of the entire organization.

— Liz Harman

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