Magazine News Blogger

Spring 2009

World Trade Center CEO tells students how to gain competitive edge

Lew Cramer, president and CEO of the World Trade Center Utah, may have been the first ever Dean’s Convocation speaker who could say he played a key role in spreading democracy through the world.

Cramer was vice president for MediaOne International and US WEST and was a pioneer in bringing cell phone service to 30 countries. Cell phone service connected people to the outside world and that factor, he believes, was one of several that led to political change.

He joked that his motto back in those days was, “When people talk, dictators walk.”

After graduating from Stanford and working as an attorney, Cramer was invited to the nation’s capital to work as a White House Fellow, an honor only given to a handful of people each year. Those who are picked spend a year working as full-time paid special assistants to senior White House staff members. Colin Powell was a White House Fellow.

It would be difficult to find many who would be as qualified as Cramer to talk about leadership and world trade. Cramer has met five different presidents and visited more than 50 countries during his career. He served as the director general of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service, leading the United States’s commercial staff of 1,400 employees at more than 120 embassies overseas and in 65 offices throughout the United States. Utah Gov. Jon M. Huntsman Jr., drafted him to be the president and CEO of the World Trade Center Utah, in 2006.

“You may not all be going global,” he said, “but you all need to be globally competitive. This is a world where globalization is like a tsunami, sweeping across the landscape.”

Cramer seemed impressed when he surveyed the group to find how many had lived overseas, how many had passports and how many planned to work internationally.

He told them that if they supplemented their international experience with some additional training and class work, they could have a huge competitive advantage in the global marketplace.

He quoted management guru Peter Drucker who said, “In the future there will be two kinds of CEOs. Those who have passports and those who are unemployed.”

He told the students they could create their own future.