Wheelhouse Talk to feature Steelcase CEO

GVL / Courtesy - cfn.news

GVL / Courtesy – cfn.news

Nick Kondyles

The Wheelhouse Talks are a series of sessions orchestrated by the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies about once a month every fall and winter semester to bring local, cross-disciplinary leaders to speak to the Grand Valley State University community. Jim Keane, the CEO of Steelcase, will speak at GVSU Friday, Nov. 3, from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. as a part of the series. 

The event, put on by the Hauenstein Center and the Design Thinking Academy, will be held in the Loosemore Auditorium of the Devos Center, Room 122E.

“The talks are an opportunity to bring in members of the Grand Rapids community and the greater Michigan area as part of a visioning process,” said Chadd Dowding, senior program manager of the Cook Leadership Academy in the Hauenstein Center. “Jim Keane will talk about leadership and how he implements design thinking at Steelcase.” 

Steelcase is a multinational, furniture-manufacturing, architectural and technological corporation valued at over $3 billion and based out of West Michigan. 

“Keane will focus on decision-making on the hiring-process level, organizing the long future of a business like Steelcase and the overall design of it,” Dowding said.  

More than 120 students have RSVP’d to hear Keane speak about collaboration in leadership, the design-thinking process and creativity in decision-making. 

“West Michigan is a design-centered region,” said John Berry, director of the Design Thinking Academy. “The Design Thinking Academy provides students with experiences of design thinking so they have the potential to be a better employee for Steelcase, provides and recognizes the value of design thinking as it is used today in the workplace.”

The Design Thinking Academy is intended to provide students with opportunities to work with organizations in the nearby community and expose them to talented design thinkers from outside of GVSU. 

The academy has a studio room in the upper floor of the Connection, complete with flip charts and technology, that serves as a multi-use student lounge and office of operation for design thinking. 

“Grand Valley creates students for employment,” Berry said. “Exposure to the employment world that will be out there for students when they graduate provides opportunities for students to be a part of real-life careers. These are things to take advantage of in college years so that they will be better prepared for employment.” 

The Hauenstein Center collaborated with the Design Thinking Academy for the event due to the fact that the two organizations both sought to expose students to a leader attuned to design thinking and influential in their field. 

Academy applicants are given opportunities to work with talented individuals on activities such as improvisation, prototyping, reading body language and understanding themselves in the context of teams. 

“Jim Keane is an advocate of the innovative problem-solving process, and design thinking often involves a diverse group of people working towards solving a common problem,” Berry said. “Keane and Steelcase Incorporated are a prime example of that.”