The Associated Students of UCLA is the world’s largest student-run retail enterprise. With over $60 million in annual sales, the organization controls all retail operations at UCLA, including campus restaurants and all UCLA trade marked products, from sweatshirts to coffee mugs. ASUCLA is run by a Board of Directors with a student majority. Marked by great idealism and a tinge of cynicism, when it comes to corporate executives, the Board was not easy to guide, due to conflicting interests and motivations. Making the search more challenging, the organization had just avoided bankruptcy by securing a $20 million loan from the University, giving the Chancellor greater say in the appointment than usual.
Working in partnership with Joe McCormack of McCormack & Associates, Kensington Stone sought to provide a sounding board and to counsel the board in an effort to build consensus about the candidate profile. Constant communications were essential to success as well as working tirelessly to build trust and a strong relationship with the board. With multiple decision makers and diverging interests, it became clear that in order for a candidate to be appointed, much less successful long term, required a very unique individual who could manage, influence, and guide an organization with a flexible style and engaging personality.
Though the position was responsible for a sizable retail operation, it became clear that the complexity of the operations and its oversight required additional skills – diplomacy, consensus management, leadership of complex operations – all seemed more important than the retail knowledge itself. For that reason we decided to target other enterprises known for operating in similarly political environments.
We engaged a top administrator from the famed Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. The candidate brought an amazing array of business development, strategic analysis, complex organizational skills, as well as strong political fence mending experience and notable diplomatic skills to the Associated Students of UCLA. Her six-year tenure marked the turn around of the organization, the retiring of its loans, and putting the organization back on sound financial footing. Her departure was met with great disappointment and made big news on the UCLA campus where she was touted for being instrumental in returning ASUCLA back to profitability, as well as, for the quality of her leadership skills.