By Luke Longfield – The 2013 Distinguished Executive Lecture in Business and Leadership was presented April 9 by Mr. Landon H. Rowland, Chairman of the Board of Lead Bank and Ever Glades Financial in Kansas City. A graduate of Dartmouth College and Harvard Law, Mr. Rowland previously served as President and CEO of Kansas City Southern Industries, Janus Capital Group and DST Systems Inc. While at Kansas City Southern Industries, the transportation division acquired the Mid-South Railway, Gateway Western Railway, Transportacion Ferroviaria Mexicana, and the rights to Panama Canal Railway.
The format for the evening event was interview-style, as William Jewell College President Dr. David Sallee interviewed Mr. Rowland with a number of questions and conversation starters for the audience of over 300 students, faculty and guests.
In response to the opening question concerning his preparation to navigate a wide-ranging career, Mr. Rowland credited his associations with unusually talented supervisors and mentors, and his legal education and practice as a litigator.
In discussing the successes of the organizations he has led, he emphasized the importance of planning, alert opportunism and institutional continuity. He described institutional continuity as the people, history, traditions and commitment to an enterprise that guide a company over time. Throughout the evening, he gave vivid examples of leaders and visionaries he has worked with throughout his career, as well as challenges, opportunities and lessons learned.
During his concluding remarks, Mr. Rowland affirmed his belief and confidence in the private, free market system while emphasizing the importance of competition, competence, persistence, adaptability and individual commitment to one’s community and neighbors.
Previous Presenters of The Distinguished Executive Lecture in Business and Leadership include Thomas A. McDonnell, CEO of DST Systems, Inc.; Richard C. Green, Jr., Chair and CEO of Utilicorp United; Richard DeGeorge, Director of the International Center for Ethics in Business at the University of Kansas; Thomas M. Hoenig, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City; Neal Patterson, Chairman and CEO of Cerner Corporation; Russ Cline, President and Owner, RCA Group; The Honorable Carol Marinovich, former Mayor of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County; Barnett Helzberg, Jr., former Chairman of the Board of Helzberg Diamonds; Edward E. Whitacre, Jr., Chairman and CEO of General Motors and Chairman Emeritus of AT&T; M. Susan Chambers, Executive Vice President of the Global People Division of Walmart; Todd C. Voth, Chairman and Senior Principal of Populous; Henry W. Bloch, Founder and Chairman Emeritus of H&R Block and Thomas M. Bloch, former President and CEO of H&R Block and Founder/President of University Academy; Scott A. McCormick, Founder of VML, Inc.