Welcome to The Leadership Playbook

With COVID-19 impacting all live events in 2020, the Albers Executive Speaker Series launched a podcast edition of its acclaimed event called The Leadership Playbook. 

The Leadership Playbook asks top executives from the business world’s most recognizable brands and companies about the stories behind their success, their leadership secrets, and the biggest obstacles they’ve faced and overcome.

Candid, often humorous, and always inspiring, the show consists of six 45-minute to one-hour episodes per season, one in fall and the other in spring.

Each episode is an interview with a business leader hosted by Joseph M. Phillips, Dean of the Albers School of Business and Economics. Occasionally we feature throwback episodes from some of the most memorable Speaker Series talks.

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The Leadership Playbook 

The Leadership Playbook is free to listen on this page or on your favorite podcast app.

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Fall 2021 Episodes

Eric Artz, President & CEO, REI Co-op
October 13, 2021

Go Do. Go Try. Go Challenge.

Eric Artz REI CEO portraitREI Co-op President & CEO Eric Artz emphasized values and impact in this recording of the first live Albers Executive Speaker Series panel in 18 months. With an ambitious goal to grow membership from 20 million to 50 million, Artz said their aspiration is to grow a community of 50 million who are engaged and fighting for pressing societal issues we face today such as climate change and racial equity. He also spoke about how REI is handling supply chain challenges, how he built a powerful company culture, and the advice he’d give aspiring leaders. ‘Challenge yourself. Go do. Go try. When you get comfortable, force yourself to get uncomfortable, because those are the moments that you’re growing.’

Spring 2021 Episodes

Father Steve Sundborg, President, Seattle University
May 19, 2021

Fr Steve SundborgLooking Back on 24 Years of Leadership

In this special livestream episode, a panel of three former Seattle University Board of Trustees Chairs – Phyllis Campbell, Jim Sinegal, and Steve Hooper – ask outgoing SU President Father Steve Sundborg about his leadership insights, the most challenging moments in the 24 years he led SU, his post-retirement plans, and how he sees the university in the future. The panel also announces the creation of the Stephen V. Sundborg, SJ Fund for Community Business Impact to support community outreach programs such as the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center's RAMP-up program.

Christine Gregoire, Governor of Washington 2005-2013 and CEO, Challenge Seattle
May 5, 2021

Portrait of Christine GregoireLearning is a Continuous Journey

Challenge Seattle CEO and former Washington Governor Christine Gregoire talks to Albers Dean Joe Phillips about her experience navigating a recession, the initiatives she is spearheading in response to last year’s racial unrest, and her advice for students graduating in a pandemic. The common thread throughout the episode is being open to learning throughout one’s lifetime. ‘Whatever you end up doing, don’t assume that’s your lifelong job,’ she says in this episode. ‘Let the doors open; let the sky be the limit.’

Brad Tilden, Chairman, Alaska Air Group
April 21, 2021

Brad TildenBreaking Through the Clouds and Finding the Blue Sky

Alaska Air Group chairman Brad Tilden, who retired as CEO in March, reflects on the challenges, triumphs, and lessons learned in the nine years he led the Seattle-based airline. The self-confessed airline geek who ‘loves the smell of jet fuel in the morning’ talks about transcending the pandemic, what he is most proud of during his time as Alaska CEO, and how to spot the right talent for the airline industry. Like him, they all ‘believe in the magic of flight’.

Craig Dawson, President and CEO, Retail Lockbox and Chair, Washington Roundtable
April 7, 2021

Craig DawsonThe Path to Achievement Starts with Building Your Runway

Retail Lockbox President and CEO Craig Dawson knew he wanted to go into business when he was four years old. In this episode, he talks about how he is leveraging his experience as a Black business owner and leader in heading up the Washington Roundtable and Washington Employers for Racial Equity, how he feels strongly about championing Black business, and the advice he would give to young professionals in the wake of the pandemic. ‘When I graduated, I thought I was old,’ he recounts. ‘What I didn’t realize was how much runway I had.’

Marilyn Gist, Thought Leader and Author of The Extraordinary Power of Leader Humility
March 24, 2021

Marilyn GistLeader Humility and Its Surprising Role in Organizational Success

Seattle University Emeritus Professor, thought leader, and author Marilyn Gist talks about her seminal work on leading with humility and how it underpins success in the best performing organizations. Gist defines leader humility as 'feeling and displaying deep regard for others' dignity'. Her research shows that contrary to the perception that it denotes weakness, leader humility builds a strong culture and incentivizes members to bring their best selves to the table. 

Jessie Woolley-Wilson, President, CEO and Board Chair, DreamBox Learning
March 10, 2021

Jessie Woolley-WilsonSeeking the Spark in Everything

‘Talent exists everywhere, but opportunity does not.’ When the pandemic hit, K-8 digital math program DreamBox Learning opened its platform for free to schools and parents, providing a much-needed resource during trying times. President, CEO and Board Chair Jessie Woolley-Wilson talks about COVID being a pivotal moment for DreamBox, the future of education technology, and the challenges she has faced as a renowned Black female leader in the historically male-dominated tech world. 

Fall 2020 Episodes

John Burke, President, Trek Bikes
October 26, 2020 


John Burke Trek Bikes CEO

Performance, Product, and People

As the pandemic deepened across the world, Trek Bikes saw a surge in bicycle sales, especially among new riders. CEO John Burke talks about how this trend has impacted their business, the opportunities presented by e-bikes and new technology, and how to thrive in a family-owned business. He also elaborates on why he wrote Presidential Playbook 2020 which has 16 detailed solutions to America's biggest challenges.

Amy Hood, CFO, Microsoft

November 2, 2020

Amy Hood Microsoft CFO

What It Means to Be a Leader

Microsoft CFO Amy Hood sat down virtually with Dean Joe Phillips to discuss her leadership philosophy, how disruptive technologies like blockchain are changing finance, and what advice she would give to recent graduates, particularly in a pandemic period.

Throwback: Tod Leiweke, CEO and Team President, Seattle Kraken

November 9, 2020

Tod Leiweke at Albers Executive Speaker Series Oct 2019Bringing Hockey Back to the Northwest

In October 2019, Seattle Kraken CEO Tod Leiweke spoke to a packed Pigott Auditorium about building a successful sports franchise, reviving the Key Arena (now known as Climate Pledge Arena), and what brought him back to Seattle: ‘At the end of the day, you have to believe in the fans’. Followers of hockey and the business of sport will enjoy this throwback episode where Leiweke enthralls and inspires an animated audience. 

Sunny Gupta, Co-founder and CEO, Apptio

November 16, 2020

Sunny Gupta CEO Apptio

How Diversity is Building a Better Apptio

Embracing diversity in everything from hiring practices to choosing office locations has had multiple benefits for SaaS solutions provider Apptio. Co-founder and CEO Sunny Gupta explains how 'opening our aperture' has not only strengthened their culture, it also enabled the Bellevue-based firm to recover faster from the initial impact of COVID-19 on their business.

Throwback: Panel Discussion featuring former Boeing Commercial Airplane CEOs Frank Shrontz, Alan Mulally, and Ray Conner

November 23, 2020

Boeing CEOs at Oct 2018 Albers Speaker SeriesLeadership and Culture

For the first time ever, three former CEOs from Boeing were on a panel discussing their experiences in leadership and culture during their executive tenures. The Albers Executive Speaker Series hosted (from left) Ray Conner, Frank Shrontz, and Alan Mulally in October 2018, asking them a host of questions from the challenges they faced in running Boeing to what advice they’d give students aspiring to senior leadership.

Throwback: Raj Singh, CEO, Accolade

November 30, 2020

Raj Singh CEO AccoladeWanted: Contrarians, Disruptors, and Do-gooders

‘Seek businesses that are built on principle or go and build one of your own.’ In January 2020, the Albers Executive Speaker Series hosted Accolade CEO Rajeev Singh, one of the Pacific Northwest’s most successful entrepreneurs. During his talk, he shared his guidepost for his every decision, other highly successful innovators who embrace beliefs that contradict the current orthodoxy, and how to recognize and master those moments that will change your course forever.

The Leadership Playbook podcast production and music are by Seattle-based Alvarez Audio.

Show Notes for the podcast will be available soon, courtesy of:

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