McCord Lecture Encourages People over Profits

Retired president of Allstate and Bradley alumnus George Ruebenson ’70

By Tommy Carreras ’11
May 22, 2012

Retired president of Allstate Protection and Bradley alumnus George Ruebenson ’70 did not mince words during his speech for the McCord Lecture series. Business leaders will always face difficult decisions, he said. The trick is making the tough call and properly executing the decision.

As president, Ruebenson successfully steered Allstate through company-wide layoffs and large-scale restructuring. He told an audience of Peoria-area business leaders at the Hayden-Clark Alumni Center about the negative perceptions of American big business and how smart leaders can change them and advance their brand.

“A lot of people don’t like American big business because we’re disingenuous at best,” he said.

Ruebenson’s straightforward approach made him an clear choice for such a difficult topic. He stressed the importance of focusing more on people, both customers and employees, than the bottom line.

Recounting stories from his time as president, Ruebenson said leaders must lose their own self-interest, learn to trust their teams, keep channels of communication open and improve the experience of every person involved with their organizations in order to succeed.

“He stressed the importance of people and reminded his audience that we must always keep the people we are working for and with in mind when making decisions and executing strategic plans,” said Katie McGinn, director of the Lewis J. Burger Center for Student Leadership and Public Service at Bradley.

Ruebenson, a member of the University’s Centurion Society, gave the 36th McCord Lecture at Bradley. Directors of Illinois Mutual Life Insurance Co. established the Robert A. McCord Endowed Professorship for Executive Management Development in 1990 to honor Robert A. McCord, the retired Chairman of the Board and CEO of the company.

The professorship rewards a Bradley faculty member who teaches students in the Foster College of Business Administration with creativity and passion and supports that faculty member’s research and professional activities.

Dr. Joshua Lewer, associate professor of economics at Bradley and research fellow at the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in Bonn, Germany, was appointed the second McCord professor at the lecture. He succeeds Dr. Charles Stoner, business management and administration professor, who held the post for 21 years.

The McCord Endowed Professorship has been vital to academic and professional success at Bradley, bringing prominent business executives into contact with both the campus and surrounding community.

“My original thought for the speaker series was to bring to campus people who we read about in reputable business publications, such as the Wall Street Journal and Business Week,” Dr. Stoner said about the lecture series. “This is good for our students, the community and enhances the reputation of our university.”