Architecture & Design, Construction, and Higher Education

Cascade Engineering’s Fred Keller leads by example

The CEO will lend his positive business expertise to U-M’s business school.

May 2, 2014
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Cascade Engineering’s CEO, Fred Keller, has taken on a new role: executive-in-residence for the Center for Positive Organizations at University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.

The two-year commitment will see Keller actively involved with the ongoing development of the center.

Keller said he will mentor students, conduct occasional lectures, connect the center with small- and medium-sized businesses to further its work, and help with strategy development.

The Center for Positive Organizations is a research-based facility focused on the domains of positive leadership: meaning and purpose, ethics and virtues, and relationships and culture in an organizational setting.

Through research and case studies, it provides tools to businesses to help them further their goals for creating a positive culture both within their company and in their surrounding communities.

Keller provided an example of the type of research conducted through the center.

“One of the pieces of research they conducted was in helping individuals understand their own capabilities and how to become more effective and positive through a growing self-awareness,” he said.

“They did research around how individuals interact and which interactions have the most positive impact on their fellow coworkers. They allow people to assess their capabilities and give them the opportunity to think about and develop their own capabilities based on that.”

Keller said the role appealed to him because it’s always been something he has focused on at Cascade Engineering, and he is interested in how businesses can help solve some of today’s long-term problems.

“I’ve been very much wanting, for all my career, to be able to have a highly impactful business, and this aligns with that,” he said.

Cascade Engineering is the second-largest certified benefit corporation in the world, a designation bestowed after a third-party assessment of the company’s social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency.

Though similar, the mission of a B Corp is somewhat different from the positive business movement and the work the center does, Keller said.

“The center is in the same general space of helping organizations become more impactful, but they are using more academic approaches,” he said.

The positive business movement is becoming more prominent, thanks to a growing consumer demand that businesses should be good stewards of their immediate communities.

“Increasingly, consumers are interested in doing business with companies that are demonstrating capability and actually making a difference, and businesses are interested in using their business to solve some of these difficult problems that the governments, frankly, have not been able to solve,” Keller said.

Keller will speak at the inaugural Positive Business Conference May 15-17 at the Ross School of Business. He will focus on how making money and making a positive difference in the world are not mutually exclusive by drawing on the decision-making process used at Cascade Engineering.

The conference will highlight the latest trends, research, practices and results in positive business with real-world business cases of impact on employees, communities, the environment and financial success.

To learn more about the Positive Business Conference, visit positivebusinessconference.com.

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