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21 Sep, Monday
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CEOs Honored for Passion, Dedication, Leadership

From businesses big and small, from startups to generational companies, and in nonprofits and booming tech businesses alike, dedicated workforces can propel an organization to success—especially if they’ve got a talented leader at the helm. On Thursday, Utah Business recognized 10 of Utah’s top bosses for their strides in making not only their companies but Utah’s economy as a whole thrive.

“Each of our honorees has a compelling story to tell about leadership and organizational change. Effective leadership is critical for corporate success. Teams without effective leaders are simply collections of individuals, each moving in their own direction,” said Donnie Welch, publisher of Utah Business magazine. “The CEO’s role is to articulate a vision, giving employees a clear sense of what they should be working toward. Their role is also to offer motivation and support along the way. They should be the company’s most vocal cheerleader, and their role is to offer kind but honest feedback so that no one goes off course.”

The CEOs honored had shepherded their organizations through various hurdles, like The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Salt Lake’s LeAnn Saldivar, who navigated the merger between two Boys and Girls Club units to provide a more united and cohesive means of serving the kids that need the nonprofit most. In Silicon Slopes, Vance Checketts, vice president and general manager of Dell EMC, was at the helm for two acquisitions: when his former employer Mozy was acquired by EMC, and then when EMC was acquired by Dell. Or like Frank Maylett, who guided Rizepoint through its 2016 rebranding.

“It comes down to people and you’ll hear that from every CEO who stands at this mic today,” Maylett said. “It’s all about helping others, serving others as a company. Utah is a great tech environment and we’re proud to be a part of the future.”

The state has proved to be fertile ground for Karl Sun to build Lucid Software, Inc., from a tiny startup to a thriving company that has found a focus on product and service draws devoted customers. That is also true for Alma Jeppson, who recently sold his 13-year-old business Landmark Home Warranty—a “heart-wrenching experience,” he said, and urged others to invest in themselves, share their visions of success with others, trust their gut and find passion in work.

“I love having the accountability of other people about whether I’m achieving my dream,” he said. “I’ve tried to convince myself my gut is wrong, but it never has been.”

Ema Ostarcevic, CEO of SEARCH Group Partners, whose family immigrated when war broke out in their home country of the former Yugoslavia while they on vacation in the United States, reflected on the fortunate accident that has allowed her to build a company.

“If my family did not have the opportunity to come here 25 years ago, I would not be here today. My life would likely be very different. We came because of immigration, and America’s warm embrace,” she said.

O.C. Tanner President and CEO Dave Peterson also reflected on how his career has shaped him as a leader.

“I came to work for O.C. Tanner 34 years ago with very little to offer,” he said. “I have literally become a product of its values and its culture.”

Two CEOs, Randy Shumway and Jack Pelo, were being recognized for their lifetime achievements throughout their careers. Shumway recently stepped down from his position as CEO of Cicero Group as per a long-standing agreement with the company’s other co-founder. Pelo, whose leadership at Swire Coca-Cola, USA began in the wake of a devastating plan crash that killed several employees, including company leadership, said he hopes what he’s accomplished thus far isn’t all he has to offer.

“‘Lifetime’ is somewhat troubling. It sounds like I’ve got one foot in the grave, and I feel like I’ve got a lot of good years left, but I am honored,” he said. “When you all work together, and you work as a team, it all comes together.”

Derek Miller, CEO of World Trade Center Utah, also mentioned the vital nature of a good team, both in the office and at home. Gov. Gary Herbert, who attended the event, said Miller’s efforts in encouraging and helping to facilitate trade between Utah companies and international partners was helping to grow a thriving sector of the state’s economy.

“He understands not only the private [business] side, but the public side of it, as well,” Herbert said. “One of the places we’re succeeding as a state is exports, and that’s in part thanks to Derek. The marketplace is global in nature, and Derek understands that.”

The rest of the CEOs have also helped to bolster Utah’s fast-growing economy in their respective fields, Herbert said.

“It’s proof of the great success we’re having as a state economy,” he said. “Upward mobility is alive and well. Entrepreneurship is alive and well. The success we see on the national scale is helped from these CEOs creating wealth, creating jobs.”