Dean’s Convocation speakers last spring gave students insight into two very different companies that have succeeded on a global scale, in part, because they were flexible, innovative and consistently ethical.
In March, Gary Stevenson, the co-founder, president and COO of ICON Health & Fitness, Inc., spoke to students at the Dean’s Convocation. Stevenson graduated with a degree in business administration from the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business in 1979.
ICON Health & Fitness is the world’s largest manufacturer of fitness equipment whose brands include: Freemotion Fitness, Inc., ProForm, NordicTrack, HealthRider, Weider, Image, Weslo and Reebok. ICON is headquartered in Logan, Utah, and employs more than 3,000 people worldwide with manufacturing or administrative offices in Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, China, South America and Australia.
Stevenson, who is also the officer and director of ICON Health & Fitness subsidiaries, told the students that innovation has been key to his company’s success. He said that he and two friends were looking for work in the summer of 1977 and decided to start a company by importing products from Asia. The first fitness product it sold was a mini-trampoline in 1980.
He said they made sure their first mini-trampoline was different than others on the market. That pattern of innovation started early and now the company is known industry-wide for being innovative.
Paul Fjeldsted, who is responsible for structuring and trading credit derivatives on the emerging markets of Central and South America for Citigroup, spoke in April. He said his group trades derivatives on any bond that might be issued by a Latin American Country, such as Brazil, Argentina, Columbia or even the Dominican Republic.
Fjeldsted graduated from Utah State University, Magna Cum Laude in 1986 with a liberal arts degree. In 2007, after working for 21 years on Wall Street for Salomon Brothers and Citigroup, Fjeldsted and his family relocated from New York to Cache Valley, and Paul pioneered a remote-work arrangement allowing him to retain his trading responsibilities from his Utah home while traveling frequently to New York City and various Latin American countries. Fjeldsted, who earned an MBA from Harvard, will be teaching a finance course this fall.
Fjeldsted offered the students some very specific lessons he’s learned while working in some very challenging situations. He concluded with this summary of his advice:
“Go where there is opportunity,” he said. “Be willing to bet on yourself. Know what you don’t know. Be wise with your financial assets. Don’t confuse financial success with happiness. Keep your head down and stay positive.”