Huntsman Alumni Magazine - Summer 2017
At the Top of Their Game
Huntsman alumni are leading lives of distinction around the world. In the following pages, we profile three great Aggies who have forged very different paths after leaving Utah State while remaining connected to their alma mater and contributing in various ways to create opportunities for students. David Jenkins, ’95, serves on the Huntsman School National Advisory Board, and is deeply engaged personally and through Conservice, the company he leads, in creating career opportunities for scores of USU students. Gail Bedke, ’95, serves on the USU Foundation Board and is passionate about mentoring women. John Loffredo, ’86, hosts Huntsman students in NYC every Summer and recently hired Ben Vera, ’15, to help open an office in Los Angeles. David, Gail, and John are at the top of their game because they dare mighty things.
Dave Jenkins, President and CEO of Conservice, knows building. He’s building one of Cache Valley’s largest companies. He’s building a dedicated workforce—1,500 strong so far. And, he’s Building Huntsman.
“Business education is a great means to change the world. That background and that experience for students can do great things. You can build companies. You can create jobs. You can change non-profits. There are so many things you can do with a business background. I am a big supporter of education.”
Conservice, founded in 2000, is the largest utility management company in the U.S. and was ranked by Utah Business Magazine as one of the fastest growing companies in Utah in 2016. In addition to offices in California, Texas, and Canada, Conservice opened their fourth building in Logan in November, 2016, and will open its doors in London within the next few months. In 2016, Conservice hired 596 new employees. A third of them were Utah State graduates, one-third had attended USU, and the other third were current USU students. Additionally, five of the six Conservice Executive team members are Aggies.
Jenkins is passionate about building company culture and building people. He credits principles emphasized during his graduate program in Human Resources at Utah State for the company’s current mantra, “Conservice Cares,” which he describes as building transparency and teamwork through an open work environment, open communication, open meetings, on-site chefs, company parties, free shuttle service, excellent employee benefits, time off, and flexible scheduling. Jenkins wants to create an environment where fairness, safety, equality, and opportunities for growth are nourished. This focus on building people is also evident in the company’s monthly “State of the Rebellion” meeting. “We’re rebelling against how everybody else does business. Everybody in the company can send in their questions and I answer them on the fly. Any question goes. I get 80-130 questions each month, and for an hour and a half, I answer as many questions as I can. I do the rest in writing and send it out to the whole company. That is how we keep that connectivity. I answer over a thousand questions every year and I’ve never had a negative question. In my opinion, any feedback is positive for me to know and understand. It might be a little different or rare for a CEO, but I think it is important to be in touch that way.”
Jenkins also encourages his employees to give back, offering his employees two hours of paid service each month. “Reflect back on the benefit you’ve received through your experience. Give your time, your money, or both. Giving enables others to have the same opportunity that’s been the seed for the opportunities you’ve enjoyed,” says Jenkins.
He gives back by supporting various causes across Cache Valley, and by supporting scholarships at Utah State, hiring Aggies, speaking on campus, and encouraging his team to be involved and share their expertise with students on campus. “I am proud to be a graduate of Utah State and love serving on the Huntsman School board. I tell customers, people in the community, and people around the country about the great things that are happening in the Huntsman School—the advancements that are being made, the type of professors that are being hired, and the leadership and passion that is there.”
Dave lives in North Logan with his wife, Lynette, who is also an Aggie.
Gail Bedke came to Utah State University from the northwest, not knowing a soul and determined to enjoy a college town experience. She joined the Chi Omega sorority, began her studies in journalism and set about enjoying the many experiences Logan has to offer. After graduating and moving to Salt Lake City, she landed her first job in the Client Services division at O.C. Tanner, never guessing that this first job would lead to a successful 22-year career at one of Utah’s most recognized and respected companies.
Recently named Vice President, Strategic Account Management, Bedke is now charged with creating strategies to help O.C. Tanner win business and develop long-term relationships with some of the most admired organizations around the world. She believes that the first step in building a successful career is to work for a great employer and commends O.C. Tanner for allowing her to have a number of different careers while working for the same company. “O.C. Tanner is unique because they allow their employees to really spread their wings and excel in a number of different things. They encourage employees to work in different departments and within different teams, and we’re a better organization for it.”
“Experience has taught me that you never know when things are going to change.”
She continually nurtures her desire to learn and expand her skills, and doing so has allowed her to capitalize on new opportunities. “Experience has taught me that you never know when things are going to change. You need to make sure that you are consistently performing and developing yourself so that when new and unexpected opportunities arise, you are the person they think of to step into the role,” she notes.
Bedke also believes that her ability to build relationships with people has served her well during her career. While managing teams in several of her roles, she’s made it a priority to build trusting relationships with her team members. She provides them with ample opportunities to rise to the occasion and is never afraid to roll up her sleeves and work side by side with her team to make sure that every job gets done.
She believes that “most of the time opportunities aren’t going to just come to you. You have to be willing to seek them out and take some risk. Look for opportunities that might not be right in front of you. Be willing to volunteer for extra things. Put yourself out there and get to know people outside of your normal circle. Doing these things has benefitted me greatly in my career and my life.”
Gail Bedke is the proud mother of two boys and lives in Park City, Utah. She has served as a member of the Utah State University Foundation Board since 2012.
John Loffredo constantly strives for excellence. He attributes this in part to his military family upbringing in Utah. “It goes back to always doing the best you can, and I’ve always lived by that,” says Loffredo, Executive Managing Director at MacKay Shields, where he co-manages a municipal bond portfolio management team that currently handles more than $20 billion in assets.
“It goes back to always doing the best you can, and I’ve always lived by that.”
An outstanding student, Loffredo attended USU on a Presidential Scholarship and then received a prestigious Harry S. Truman scholarship during his junior year. After an MBA and a Certificate of Public Management from Boston University, as well as a CFA certification, Loffredo began his finance career as an analyst at Merrill Lynch. Following many promotions within the company, his division was sold to BlackRock where Loffredo was named Managing Director and Co-Head of the Municipal Portfolio Management Group, running the largest municipal asset management desk in the world worth about $120 billion in assets. In 2009, he joined MacKay Shields, a boutique money manager owned by New York Life, investing in public infrastructure across the U.S. His MainStay High Yield Municipal Bond fund has ranked in the top five percent of its category for the last three- and five-year trailing periods, and Loffredo and his co-manager, Robert DiMella, were recently profiled in Barron’s Magazine as Municipal Bond Mavens.
A deep sense of gratitude motivates his drive to give back to those who have helped him succeed. “USU prepared me very well for my career, and so I feel compelled to give back,” says Loffredo, who spearheaded New York Life’s 4-year commitment to sponsor the basketball floor in the USU Spectrum, in addition to his personal giving to the Huntsman School. “When I was a student at USU I was really active in attending basketball and football games. Helping the athletics department with their needs also helps the student body because that’s part of the overall life that USU offers. People are very lucky to have such a great university in Logan.”
He also cares deeply about helping students achieve professional success, and is an active mentor. Each summer, Huntsman students travel to New York City to explore career opportunities. Since 2011, Loffredo has hosted groups of 15-20 HSB students at MacKay Shields. As a senior executive at the firm, Loffredo commands attention and respect yet he’s an unassuming guy who enters the room with a big smile, ready to engage the students in memorable experiences.
MacKay Shields recently hired their first USU student, Ben Vera, to work in their newly opened Los Angeles office. For Vera, who graduated with a degree in Finance in 2016, this is an incredible opportunity to learn from a man who embodies the Huntsman School’s motto to “Dare Mighty Things,” and to grow under the tutelage of a kind, supportive boss who listens intently to his employees and offers plenty of encouragement. “What made me say ‘I want to work for John Loffredo’ was the day he told me he believed that I, too, could accomplish great things in my life, both personally and professionally, and that he was willing to help me get there. An attitude, in my opinion, that makes a great mentor,” says Vera.