Executive Education

Peer Talk Profile: William Fain

In today’s ever-changing economy, cultivating new skills and growing leadership capabilities is critical to professional and personal success. No one knows this better than William Fain of Atlanta.

Beginning his career as a sales representative with Stryker Corporation—a leader in orthopedic medical technology—Fain worked his way up to a leadership role, and has been the company’s area vice president of sales, southeast since 2007. In his role, he oversees sales and operations.

“In the medical device market, our world is changing incredibly fast. The strategy of how we do things, how we organize, and how we pay people is changing,” Fain says. “Most people don’t like change, but change is inevitable. Knowing how to effectively communicate change in order to get the maximum amount of return is essential.”

Diverse perspectives from around the globe

Fain turned to the Executive Development Program at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business to round out his skill set and help him become a more effective manager.

“I manage a variety of operations people who help me handle all facets of the business,” Fain says. “I appreciate the idea of understanding the thought processes that motivate people in the business environment. Booth’s integration of the psychological aspect of business was particularly appealing to me.”

The intensive two-week program provides executives with conceptual frameworks to set strategy, make decisions, and lead cross-functional teams. Led by Chicago Booth’s award-winning faculty, the program and the diverse international classmates provided Fain with new perspectives and tactics.

“It was interesting to hear the challenges that others were having in their industries and in their countries,” he says. “The issues are pretty similar, but how they were addressed was a little different. Everyone brought their own unique perspective to the table, which added to the total experience.”

Finding the Right Words

For Fain, the information he learned about communication tactics was one of the most beneficial parts of the program. He is now particularly aware of how he presents information to his associates.

“Figuring out what you are ultimately trying to achieve should influence how you talk about it,” Fain says. “Is it a win? Do you show it as a positive, as a gain? Do you talk about it as a loss? Are you trying to achieve action or a net effect?”

The program has also had an impact on the way Fain interacts with clients.

“During the course, they talked about the importance of being aware of how your presence influences a meeting,” he says. “If you have a consistent way of dealing with people, think about changing it because the customer will react differently. I watch their reactions and adjust accordingly. I’ve been able to open up dialogues strictly based on choosing a new way to respond.”

Long-Lasting Benefits

Since completing the program, Fain carries his class notes in his briefcase, and regularly references what he learned.

“I continue to review what I learned in class so it becomes part of my own thought processes and how I conduct myself,” he says. “It has grown my value immediately, and I expect that it will continue to do so as I further digest the information and apply it to my daily activities.