Tag Archives: 2018

Cyber Security

CYBER SECURITY – SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING.  Those were the words of advice from a panel of experts presenting on what you are doing that you shouldn’t be doing and what you are not doing that you should be doing related to cyber security.
The panel included experts in the field including JD Harris from Ascent Solutions, Brandon Liner from Nology Networks and Chad Boeckmann from Secure Digital Solutions.  The moderator was Kristin Dean from Arctic Wolf Networks.  The gracious host of the event was Stuart Shwiff of Insperity.
One of the initial discussion topics was around, how do companies get started with cyber security plans?  The panelists agreed that it started with understanding the business as cyber security is not just an IT issue.  They noted that there are at least five cyber security items boards must know about.  As a board member, are you aware and asking the right questions around cyber security?
It was suggested that an Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) baseline assessment drives prioritization and next steps.  As there are many new attackers out there and they recommended that if your employees see something, to be safe, they should say something.  Machine learning and AI can also help identify some of the “bad actors” out there but there is a lot more to be done.
Another questions from the audience was, “What are bad guys looking for and what do they do with it?”  The answer was, “pretty much anything that can be sold, for example credit card  and security card number or intellectual property.”  A specific example of the challenge of securing intellectual property was when Ford unveiled it’s new truck in China in 2015.  A few blocks away and on the same day, China unveiled the exact same truck down to the bolt. I commented that my recent conversations with innovation directors in China confirmed that there is no expectation of protecting IP in China and that the advantage is to create the best business model.
And while it can sound down-right scary and depressing, as there is no bigger issue in IT than this, there is hope.  There are new technologies.  One in particular, blockchain, was mentioned as encouraging tech.  Also, the panel was asked who was winning the war and beating cyber crime.  It was noted that Israel was the epicenter of cyber security and a leader in cyber security innovation.
I recommended that one proactive approach organizations could take to reduce risk and also manage customer relationships would be to closely review their business contracts for their obligations and customer expectations.  Those with small businesses also asked what the budget might be for cyber security for them? The recommendation was to invest in a day to have someone come in and do an assessment.
This brought up the topic of insurance.  JD Harris shared that most have companies have cyber insurance.  However, in his experience, zero have collected.  He was clear that it is not that the insurance was bad, in fact he finds it quite reasonable, but that there are many caveats and companies must read their policies.  He stressed that it is essential that companies understand and meet their obligations and not use cyber security insurance as their cyber security plan.
Even with the best precautions in place, the panel shared several examples of being involved in a cyber security recovery missions.  The timing to fix was typically not in days or weeks but in months or years.  The question was tossed out for owners or board members to consider, “how fast can you get your hands on $3-$5m to fix the recovery.”
Another panelist stated that, “you can’t outsource liability.”


Women In Leadership

WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP.  This event was about the numbers.  The Twin Cities Business event reveled the 10th annual Minnesota Census of Women in Corporate Leadership…and the news was disheartening.  The Executive Summary states, “With few notable exceptions (the Census) underscores the challenges of maintaining forward movement in diversifying corporate leadership.”

First, for a look at the big picture, the report stated:

  • Across the country, 28 million women hold managerial or professional roles (ION, 2017) but only 24 women lead Fortune 500 companies, and only 22 percent of the nation’s largest 100 public companies have female directors.

Below are a few of the highlights from the Census which analyzed data from 72 Minnesota companies:

  • The Census reveals a challenging corporate landscape, with a net decrease in the number of women holding leadership roles.
  • Of the 37 new directors appointed, only six were women.
  • Women directors of color hold only 3.1 percent of the total board seats.
  • MN companies strive to attain a critical mass of women executive officers and directors.  In 2017, six MN companies attained this critical mass of 30% or more on both their boards and in their executive offices, to receive the designation of Special Distinction.
  • The Census pointed out some of the reasons, including that there are fewer companies in Minnesota so therefore, fewer leadership opportunities.

The moderated discussion included insights from four key panelists including Kweilin Ellingrud, McKinsey & Company; Andrew Humphrey, Fagre Baker Daniels; Cindy Kent, 3M; and Beth Wozniak, Pentair.  The highlights for me included:

  • Women that have responsibility for p&l, more often move into top leadership roles.
  • Women leaders often draw from their experience as competitive athletes.
  • There is a difference between mentored and sponsored.  Cindy Kent shared that many seek mentors but are under sponsored.
  • Be intentional – take on learn & grow initiatives but make your intentions known.
  • Create your own personal advisory board.
  • Choose your boss well.
  • In response to questions regarding sexual harassment in the workplace, Beth Wozniak stated, “You get what you tolerate.”  She went on to talk about high performance workplaces.

More on this topic can be found on the St. Catherine University website.

More photos of the event can be found in the gallery.



  • Shelly Elmore, Publisher, Twin Cities Business


  • ReBecca Koenig Roloff, President, St. Catherine University

2017 MN Census of Women in Corporate Leadership Highlights

  • Joann Bangs, Associate Provost, College for Women and Dean, School of Business & Professional Studies, St. Catherine University

2017 Honor Roll Companies

  • Allete, Inc.
  • Ameriprise Financial
  • Apogee Enterprises, Inc.
  • Best Buy Co., Inc.
  • Buffalo Wild Wings, Inc.
  • Deluxe Corp.
  • Electromed, Inc.
  • General Mills, Inc.
  • Homel Foods Corp.
  • Insignia Systems, Inc.
  • Medtronic Plc
  • New Ulm Telecom Inc.
  • Patterson Cos., Inc.
  • Sleep Number Corp.
  • SuperValu, Inc.
  • Target Corp.
  • Tennant Co.
  • U.S. Bancorp
  • UnitedHealth Group

Panel Discussion

  • Kweilin Ellingrun, Partner, McKinsey & Company
  • Andrew Humphrey, Partner, Chair Emeritus, Faegre Baker Daniels LLP
  • Cindy Kent, President & GM, 3M Infection Prevention Division
  • Beth Wozniak, SVP & President, Electrical, Pentair (now CEO of nVent)

Closing Remarks



Managing Through The Talent Crunch

MANAGING THROUGH THE TALENT CRUNCH.  This was the theme of Greater MSP’s Investor Meeting held at the Hilton Minneapolis.  Richard David, CEO of U.S. Bank kicked off the event by talking about the need to be bolder in order to compete.  He also introduced Greater MSP’s version 2.0 initiatives to create a remarkable future for the region.

Key initiatives focused on developing strategies to both attract and retain talent and included key partnerships with the following organizations: Greater Metropolitan Workforce Council, Minnesota Food & Agriculture Leadership Initiative and Forge North.  Performance measurements included building the network, supporting employers, generating leads and raising visibility.

People were identified as a critical key asset.  Awareness of the talent and Minnesota advantages was noted as a concern.  Attraction and retention were highlighted as key goals.  The panel included key HR leaders from U.S. Bank, Medtronic and Salo.  They emphasized the need to grow existing talent by reinvesting in them and developing access to opportunities.

A couple of areas I’d like to see expounded on in future meetings include regional strategies related to global competition, cluster development and strengthening middle market opportunities.


More photos of the event are in the Gallery.

The BOLD Awards

THE BOLD AWARDS celebrate industry’s boldest bets, daring strategies, innovative approaches, and collaborative leaders and teams.  This event recognized finalists and winners for their imagination and extraordinary efforts to grow Minnesota.

This was a gala celebration where inspiring stories were shared.  All of the organizations vying for the title of BOLDEST OF THE BOLD were here because they had created new business models, partnerships or services.  The energy in the room was palpable as the onsite voting results of the 300 in attendance were tallied.

The 2018 BOLD Award finalists and winners by category were:


  • Bunker Labs Minneapolis
  • Cookie Cart
  • Cornerstone (winner!)

Early Stage

  • Autonomous Tractor Corporation (winner!)
  • Foreverence
  • Roosevelt Energy

Corporate Small

  • Duke Cannon Supply Co.
  • HED Cycling Products (winner!)
  • Inspire Medical Systems

Middle Market

  • Bite Squad
  • Perforce Software
  • Ralco Agriculture (winner!)

Corporate Large

  • Kraus-Anderson
  • Restaurant Technologies (winner!)

The 6th annual BOLD Awards were hosted by ACG Minnesota and held at the Muse Event Center in Minneapolis.  Association for Corporate Growth (ACG) has chapters worldwide representing 14,500 members.  ACG serves 90,000 investors owners, executives, lenders and advisors to growing middle-market companies.  ACG’s mission is to drive middle-market growth.  Elements Group is a proud member of ACG.