Utah’s business community is rich with professionals who have led the state to success. Often shying from the spotlight are the board members who help guide a company or organization’s direction. Each year, Utah Business is proud to honor a selection of outstanding directors who play an integral role in building the companies and organizations in which they serve. Numerous nominations were submitted by company and government leaders, and Utah Business editors, with the guidance of the National Association of Corporate Directors, Utah Chapter, selected eight outstanding directors who have made extraordinary contributions to their affiliated organizations. Please join us in recognizing these impressive professionals whose mentorship, sound business strategies and governance have strengthened companies, organizations and ultimately the Beehive State.
Dr. Ragula Bhaskar
Governor’s Office of Economic Development, Business Development, Chairman of the Board
When you hear about companies such as Disney Interactive Studios, Goldman Sachs, eBay, Procter and Gamble, and Hershey opening offices and distribution centers in Utah, know that Dr. Ragula Bhaskar, chairman of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) board of directors, had a major part in making it happen.
“In the past year alone, under Bhaskar’s leadership, the Board has made incentive offers to 18 companies,” says Michael Sullivan, GOED communications director. “These companies over the next decades will spend over half a billion dollars in capital investments and create over 4,000 new high paying jobs in Utah.”
Bhaskar, since being appointed to the board by former Governor Jon Huntsman in April 2007, led the 15-member board to advise the GOED staff on attracting these companies, and others, to the state. But it was the deal with Proctor and Gamble (P&G) that Bhaskar says stands out for him as one of the most exciting things he’s experienced.
“It was eye-opening for me to see how the state folks worked very hard to [accomplish the deal], including the governor stepping in and actually meeting with the president of P&G and getting it done,” recalls Bhaskar.
Although Bhaskar sits on the incentives committee, which actually creates the nuts and bolts of a deal, and plays a major role in figuring ways the state can provide companies the incentive to move to Utah, he speaks of his role with the P&G deal, and others, modestly, and defers credit back to the state.
“There are a lot of things that we just do in a day, but this was a months-long affair and the fact that the state won it speaks highly of the people who help run the state.”
But Bhaskar’s experience as the president and CEO of FatPipe Networks, the inventor of patented router-clustering technology that provides highly redundant, high-speed Internet/WAN access for mission critical applications for business, allows him to facilitate results that are not only good for the state, but companies’ objectives as well.
“I am in business myself and I can understand what they are looking for in order to bring their business to Utah, so I can look at a deal and see what is valuable,” says Bhaskar. “We always talk about quality of life and everything else and that’s why companies come to town. The answer is they really come to town because there is a financially viable project to put in place.”
Thomas T. Billings
GE Capital Financial Inc. Board Member
You might not think experience from working as a wrangler on a dude ranch could contribute to corporate directorship, but for Tom Billings, shareholder and partner at VanCott, Bagley, Cornwall & McCarthy and GE Capital Financial Inc. (GECFI) board member, it does. He credits that experience 40 years ago to having an impact on the service he’s given throughout his career and as a board member now.
“What it actually taught me was how hard cowboys work—the cowboy ethic. But, it actually was very useful in teaching me how to deal with my fellow employees in a work environment, opposing counsel, and clients,” he explains. “Being in the hospitality service industry you learn how to support your fellow worker.”
As a director on the GECFI board, Billings says he works hard to be informed, deliberate and monitor the company’s performance, but tries not to micromanage. It’s this kind of support that Tim Carfi, president and CEO of GECFI says has been pivotal to effecting positive change and progress for the Utah industrial bank, chartered in 1990. “Mr. Billings’ expertise with industrial banks, as well as start-up organizations and his credibility with the state and federal regulators, has provided valuable insight and guidance to GECFI,” he says. “He comes to meetings ready to discuss relevant issues and has fostered an atmosphere of candid and open exchange of views.”
Billing’s service extends to actively participating in the bank’s Community Reinvestment Act Program by providing assistance with legal issues for non-profit organizations. With an interest in cultural organizations as an avid art collector, he’s served other community affiliations such as the Kimball Art Center and Egyptian Theater Company in Park City, the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, the Utah Heritage Foundation and Save Our Stage Foundation.
“My parents instilled in me that you have an obligation to pay back to your community, so I would get on these boards and use my position in the community to help raise awareness for that organization,” says Billings.
Despite his broad reach serving on the GEFCI board, and others, Billings would still consider other opportunities to serve, such as filling a seat on the Gates Foundation board. “The opportunity to be a part of the largest philanthropic organization would be fantastic,” he says.
Workers Compensation Fund of Utah Board Member
Growing up, Bob Myrick heard about how his grandfather, an orphan, was taken in by a Summit County couple and later, couldn’t decide which last name to use. A local judge in Coalville told his grandfather that what mattered more than the name he chose was what his name would come to represent.
For Worker’s Compensation Fund (WCF) of Utah, the name, Myrick, represents strength, understanding and compassion.
Ray Pickup, CEO and president of WCF, says that when Myrick joined the board 15 years ago, his vast experience in the banking industry was crucial since the company was undergoing a large financial transformation. “Myrick helped the company make significant changes and has been involved in all of the company’s important decisions since then.”
Myrick’s exposure to the banking industry came early in his life; as a young boy, he swept floors in Valley Bank and Trust, a bank his father founded. Eventually, Myrick earned degrees from the Stonier Graduate School of Banking and a master’s in finance from the University of Utah. When he took his seat on the WCF board, he was chief operating officer at Morgan Stanley Bank, and brought with him experience from American Express as well. And five years ago, the Utah Bankers’ Association recognized him as the state’s top banker.
These accomplishments, among others, led to Myrick receiving an unprecedented number of appointments to the WCF board. But, Pickup says, Myrick’s value to the company has gone beyond his financial expertise to developing strategies that magnifies the company’s mission and purpose.
“Bob Myrick has always been concerned about WCF injured workers,” he says. “He recognizes the human and family impacts of suffering an industrial injury.” Myrick also recognizes the loss when an industrial accident costs a life, strongly endorsing WCF’s Legacy of Learning scholarship program. It provides educational assistance to spouses and children of workers who have lost their lives in work-related accidents.
“When a bread winner is killed, the dynamics of a family is changed, right now, immediately,” says Myrick. “Not only have they lost a loved one, but now, particularly if they are young family with a stay-at-home mom. How does she raise a family and get a job in today’s environment?”
Myrick’s own legacy of learning includes teaching principles of banking for 10 quarters at the University of Utah through the American Institute of Banking. And he’s gone back to school himself, participating in the Osher life-long learning program at the University of Utah. “It’s the best kind of school because there’s no homework, no tests and no required reading,” says Myrick about his constitutional law and Darwin’s theory classes.
Zions First National Bank Board Member
Keith Rattie takes his roles as Questar Corp. CEO and Zions First National Bank board member seriously. But the Washington-native also knows how to rock and roll—literally. Playing the electric guitar, Rattie has jammed on stage with the likes of former Governor Jon Huntsman, Merit Medical’s Fred Lampropoulos and former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson.
Energy policy is another hobby of Rattie’s, and with more than 3 decades of experience working in the energy industry, his “hobby” is better described as a professional passion.
Rattie’s energy-focused career began with Chevron Corp. in 1976 where he quickly rose to serve as general manager. After 19 years with the company, Rattie joined Coastal Corp., a natural gas company, where he served as senior vice president. In January 2001, Rattie was named president and COO of Questar, and in 2002 was appointed CEO—during a time when confidence in corporate governance was at its lowest.
A long-time advocate for strong corporate governance, Rattie says that the corporate governance confidence crisis, which ultimately led to Sarbanes-Oxley, affirmed his belief that a company’s board of directors is vital to a company’s success. “I’ve had a long-held belief that the company’s culture—including board culture—is the first line of defense, and remains so long after companies achieve compliance with regulations,” he says.
Rattie, who has been serving on Zions Bank’s board of directors since 2002, says what he enjoys most about his role with the bank is helping make a difference for Zions’ members, especially during today’s rough economy. “No other business in Utah has done more for economic growth and prosperity in our state than Zions Bank,” Rattie says. “The bank exists to serve the credit needs of the community.”
Another aspect he enjoys about serving on Zions Bank’s board of directors is working with and learning from some of the state’s top business leaders. “The opportunity to learn from extraordinary leaders like Harris Simmons, Scott Anderson and the many other talented professionals that serve has been personally fulfilling.”
Scott Anderson, Zions Bank president and CEO, says Rattie’s service has been key to the Utah-based bank. "In the seven years Keith has served on Zions First National Bank’s board of directors, he has shared his expertise and vision to guide the growth and success of the bank,” he says. “I admire not only his business insights and good instincts, but also his commitment to giving back to the state through his tireless community involvement.”
Regence BlueCross BlueShield Board Member
As the Latin America director of International Trade and Diplomacy for the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) since 2005, Miguel R. Rovira’s office is furnished with a myriad of plaques and photos indicating his experiences in the U.S. and abroad, including the American, Utah, Mexican and Puerto Rican flags. But front and center, among all of them, are numerous paintings created by his six-year-old daughter.
“The key to anything I’ve been able to achieve comes from my family,” says Rovira of his participation on the Regence BlueCross BlueShield board of directors. “This is something of which I give my own time, so their support gives me the ability to be on the board. Essentially, we as a family are committed to this.”
Rovira’s commitment helps Regence senior executives meet with numerous business and community leaders around the state. “If we research a company and find that none of us in the community have a contact, we often turn to our board of directors to see if they can help open the door for us. Miguel has excelled in this effort,” says J. Kevin Bischoff, director at Regence BlueCross BlueShield.
Having vast experience working with community-based companies helps Rovira make connections for Regence, especially with Utah’s Latino-owned businesses. He became the vice chair of the Hispanic Assembly in April 2004 and was the first executive director for the Utah Hispanic Chamber of Commerce later that year.
Previous to working with GOED, Rovira was president of Hercules Satellite Communications based in Virginia, which facilitated satellite communications between the U.S. and 48 different countries. His experience with the company taught him both the operational and investor’s side of businesses, and the objectives of company boards. “I know business, but I also know how people think.”
Rovira also attributes his ability to grasp differing views to Tai ch’i chuan, an internal Chinese martial art style often practiced for health reasons. Rovira started practicing the art to help a herniated disc, but after eight years of performing a morning routine, including 37 different postures, he’s gained more than improved physical health. “It has softened me more,” says Rovira. “It’s taught me to listen to people, then comment.”
James Lee Sorenson
MediConnect Board Member
As an entrepreneur, business owner and CEO, James Lee Sorenson brings a unique professional mix to his role as a MediConnect board member. And Amy Rees Anderson, MediConnect CEO, says Sorenson’s expertise and guidance has been vital to the South Jordan-based company’s growth. “Jim has been an amazing part of MediConnect Global’s board of directors,” says Anderson. “He has provided invaluable guidance to the company.”
Serving as a director on numerous boards, including Art Works for Kids, Gallaudet University and the Utah Governor's Office of Economic Development, Sorenson has proven dedication to strengthening Utah’s economy. Beyond his corporate directorship roles, Sorenson has a lengthy professional career: he served as CEO of Utah Biomedical Test Labs, founded DataChem and served as CEO of Sorenson Media. Today, he serves as CEO of The Sorenson Group of Real Estate Companies, which is developing more than 70,000 acres including market-leading commercial and residential projects such as Rosecrest in Herriman. Sorenson is also co-founder of the private equity company, Sorenson Capital, which invests in small-to mid-size western U.S. companies.
With a wealth of experience, Sorenson says his goal as a board member is to help small companies develop successfully, and to ultimately enhance Utah’s economy. “I enjoy being part of the team in helping small companies grow,” he says. “My board experience typically involves small dynamic growth companies such as Sorenson Communications and MediConnect. MediConnect was included on the Inc. 500 list of the fastest growing companies in 2007 and was recognized as one of the top 100 fastest growing companies in Utah for four years. To be a part of this growth experience, new job creation and development of new industries in Utah has been exciting and fulfilling to me.”
Beyond growing small companies, Sorenson says what he enjoys most about serving as a board member is working with other Utah professionals. “Being a board member broadens my understanding of the world at large and the world of business in particular,” he says. “By working together we have been able to make good things happen at MediConnect.”
Though his professional and community service is extensive, Sorenson says what makes him proudest is his family. And when he’s not busy at work or spending time with his family, you can find Sorenson singing with the Utah Chamber Artists, a musical group he co-founded in 1991.
Scott C. Ulbrich
United Way of Salt Lake
Described as a champion for United Way of Salt Lake (UWSL), Scott Ulbrich says it’s hard to imagine not serving the non-profit organization. A supporter of UWSL for decades, Ulbrich says serving with the organization is his way of giving back to the community he loves. And Deborah Bayle, CEO of UWSL, says Ulbrich’s role in the organization has been vital to its success. “Scott cares deeply about our community,” says Bayle. “He is always willing to take the time to work with us and help us develop new and better ways of implementing our business strategies. He has a heart of gold and is a constant inspiration to me and to others.”
Ulbrich first moved to the Beehive State in 1984 to serve as treasurer for First Security Corporation and was later promoted to the company’s CFO, a position he held for more than 10 years. After First Security merged with Wells Fargo, Ulbrich stayed with the company as a managing director, running the bank’s private client services until he retired in 2003. But retirement didn’t fit well with Ulbrich, who was quickly recruited to serve as vice president for Moreton & Company, an all-inclusive financial services group.
With an extensive financial background, Ulbrich has helped UWSL develop strategies to grow, and to deal with the recent economic turmoil. “Scott has been absolutely critical to us over the past year,” says Bayle. “He helped us create a contingency plan and worked with us to implement it. He was a voice of reason as we discussed the ramifications to our staff of cutting many of their benefits. He led us through a process that ultimately cut more than $700,000 from our operations budget, but left the remaining employees feeling that we care about them and are concerned about their future.”
Though Ulbrich says his service with UWSL has been filled with numerous unforgettable experiences, he says one of his fondest was working with Dental Select to establish the Sealants for Smiles program. “The Sealants for Smiles project has been extremely successfully, expanding beyond our wildest dreams,” Ulbrich says. “I’m really proud of the huge impact it’s had on young children by offering them dental sealants.”
Ulbrich says he remains committed to serving Utah’s community and recommends others do the same. “In both your community and professional involvement, you can have an impact to make life better for somebody, whether it’s a coworker or someone who’s less fortunate,” he says. “It is so important for people in our community to get involved. I know it’s a time commitment, but the amount you give in time and resources comes back to you many times over.”
Utah Capital Investment Corporation Board Member
From her time as West Jordan representative in the Utah Legislature, to her service today on the Utah Capital Investment Corporation board of directors, Peggy Wallace has remained devoted to one central issue: economic development. “When I look at Utah and what the state really needs, it is economic development,” she says. “You can’t have great education, you can’t have strong universities, you can’t have a stable income, and you can’t have a stable state if you don’t have economic development. Economic development is so important to Utah.”
Wallace, who has an extensive 40-year career in the financial industry, actually gained an education in dance, but became passionate about the financial industry early in her career. Currently serving as vice president at America First Credit Union, Wallace’s career spans numerous financial positions including serving as operations officer for United California Bank; senior operations officer for American Savings and Loan's Southern Division; and associate vice president over Savings Administration for Beverly Hills Savings.
Wallace’s vast experience in the financial industry has since translated into her serving Utah’s economy in various roles. As a representative, Wallace sponsored the Utah Fund of Funds legislation, which plays a large economic role in attracting venture capital to the state.
“From the inception of the Utah Fund of Funds program, Peggy has been integral to its success and progress,” says Jeremy Neilson, director of the Fund of Funds. “She is an exceptionally active and effective board member whose financial, legislative and regulatory expertise has had a profound and direct impact on the program. In large
part because of Peggy, 35 Utah companies have received the life blood of investment capital and created 2,000 high-quality jobs."
Wallace says her other long-time goal is to help strengthen Utah’s entrepreneurial infrastructure. “Utah’s entrepreneurs are astounding. I think of Utah as a huge melting pot of unbelievable talent. The problem is we don’t have enough money,” she says. “My goal is to find the answers to the question: ‘How do you attract money and how do you get it to stay here?’ That’s where my passion is.”
Beyond her service to the Utah Capital Investment Corporation, Wallace has served on numerous professional and community boards. She currently serves on the Utah Cooperative Alliance; Utah Professional Republican Women; Republican Women's PAC; as a long-standing Development Education board member with the World Organization of Credit Unions; and on the public policy committee for the Utah Technology Council (UTC).