Jerry Stritzke -- REI CEO

Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on Sunday, June 1, 2014 at 5:31 PM PDT

On May 29th, our Marketing Club, which is now affiliated with the American Marketing Association, hosted Jerry Stritzke, new CEO for REI.  Stritzke has been CEO at REI since October. 

 Stritzke is the seventh CEO in the history of REI, and he mentioned that he would be meeting with Jim Whitaker, one of his predecessors.  I made sure to tell him that Jim, the first America to climb Mt. Everest, is an alum of Seattle University, having played basketball at SU in the early 1950's!

Stritzke started his presentation by tracing his career path, explaining how he went from being a less than diligent student to becoming CEO of REI, with stops at Coach and Victoria Secret along the way.  His point was to illustrate to students that their careers can move in unpredictable ways.

Stritzke then moved to give some advice on managing one's career.  He noted the importance of networking, and how it had been critical to his success.  Second, he emphasized the importance of picking your own boss, someone who would be supportive and successful in his or her own right, because as the boss succeeds the boss can do more for you.  Third, pick the best experience, not the highest paying job.  Early in your career it is important to get experiences that will make you a more productive and talented worker.  These are not necessarily the positions that will generate the most income.  If you pick the roles that will offer the most learning, it is bound to reward you later.

He ended with some thoughts on leadership.  First, it is important to ask great questions.  You have to be able to learn from others with the situation really is.  Second, leaders have to be life long learners.  They have to know how to learn and keep improving themselves.  Finally, leaders need to understand "it's not about me."  They need to know they are in their role to move the organization forward by empowering those who are part of the organization.

It was the final event of the year for the Marketing Club, and the club certainly went out with a bang!  Congratulations to the club for inviting a leader of the caliber of Jerry Stritzke to campus.  We'll have to get him back someday soon!