Peer Talk Profile: Michael McKelvy
is the President and CEO of Gilbane Building Company and a past participant of Booth's Advanced Management Program.
Booth: Before you came to Booth, what were some of the challenges you were facing in your work that led you to the Advanced Management Program (AMP)?
McKelvy: The program covers a broad range of topics that were in alignment with the challenges I faced. Specifically, advanced strategy and organizational change were common challenges, completely satisfied by the AMP. The program really gave me a tool kit to apply when I returned to work, with the flexibility to apply the axioms and experiences gained directly to my job challenges.
Booth: How did the Advanced Management Program influence your career path and achievements?
McKelvy: When I started at Gilbane, one of the first challenges was to reconcile the past strategic plans and really chart a course for the future. Specifically, The Advanced Strategy Program, an AMP elective, provided a clear template for evaluating the goals, strategies, and actions within the framework of the Iron Laws of Strategy that Gilbane would be facing in the coming years. Application of the key questions—what we are best at, what is happening in the marketplace—and the powerful patterns that were discovered all within the context of real data gave me the framework to develop the next level strategy at Gilbane.
Since then, we have been living with the outcome to tremendous success. We have been in business since 1873 and have had our best years of all time for the last three years in a row!
Booth: Which electives helped you the most in terms of advancing your career?
McKelvy: The Mergers and Acquisitions elective and the Directors’ Consortium were both powerful and timely in my career.
Booth: What are some key concepts that you took away from the Advanced Management Program?
McKelvy: Probably the greatest takeaway is the verification of data for decision-making strategy. The case studies show time and time again that most failed missions were not based on relevant or real data. The other concept is that of challenging the status quo or what we have always done. Whether it was in Finance for Executives or in High-Performance Leadership, the methods shown have come back to me time and time again in my career.
Booth: What was your impression of the faculty members teaching your courses?
McKelvy: The faculty are top notch and really know how to connect with the vast variety of students in each class. They become part of our team over the many months of the program and are always willing to discuss specific issues, connecting the topics with our real-world situations.
Booth: Why do you think it’s important that professionals find new learning opportunities and acquire new skills?
McKelvy: Most of us who strive to grow and advance also have a thirst for learning and development, especially as we get further into our careers. This is even more critical in the fast-paced world we all live in now.
Booth: Why should others consider enrolling in the Advanced Management Program?
McKelvy: The challenge most face in executive education is time. Nobody really has the time to take six weeks off their day job. But the AMP not only spaces the program out to better accommodate the schedules of executives, it also fosters relationships that can last a lifetime through the shared experience.