Home Executive Leadership Series

Fall 2015 Executive Leadership Series Speakers

The School of Business is pleased to host the PLU Executive Leadership Series, which is devoted to supporting our business programs at PLU by bringing executives to campus to share their expertise and insight. We are honored to bring preeminent industry and organizational leaders, students and selected guests together on the Pacific Lutheran University campus for these evenings. 


Bill Branson: Enterprise Architect & Business Performance Consultant

Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015
6 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Leraas Hall, Rieke Science Center

Branson provides consulting and educational services to clients across the globe, drawing on his recognized leadership and management experience and his extensive experience with information technology, enterprise architecture, IT strategy, business transformation, business strategy, business planning and program management.

He is the founder of Strategic Business Architects Inc., and since 2006 works with business leaders and their teams to maximize their business results by defining their business direction, developing actionable strategies to get there, and creating an execution plan to which they can hold themselves and their team accountable.

Prior to 2006, he worked for Russell Investment Group in Tacoma, where he created and directed Russell Investment Group’s first IT Architecture Department and then the Strategic Business Architecture team in the Investment Management and Research Department.

Branson’s wide-ranging work history in both vendor and end-user companies spans 30 years and includes IT architecture and strategy, technical marketing and support, systems and application development, and network engineering.

Ian Toner: Managing Director/Strategic Research, Verus Investments

Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015
6 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Leraas Hall, Rieke Science Center

Toner is responsible for ensuring that the research resources at the firm are focused on solving the real problems faced by the firm’s clients and on maintaining an appropriate balance between academic rigor and practical real-world client solutions. He has responsibility over all research, including manager research, capital markets research and topics of interest, and is a key contributor to the Research Advisory Committee. He is particularly engaged in finding ways to ensure that new insights created at the firm are used across the whole range of clients, large or small, and whether the services those clients consume are discretionary or nondiscretionary.

He joined the firm in late 2013 from Russell Investments in Seattle, where he was most recently director of capital markets research in the Investment Division. He was at Russell for seven years and was particularly focused on two key areas: understanding the effect of currency risk on client portfolios, and understanding and managing the complex range of risks that clients and investors experience when interacting with Wall Street.

Prior to Russel Investments, he was an executive director at UBS Investment Bank in London, and a vice president at both Schroder Salomon Smith Barney and InterSec Research Corp. He has also worked on the sell side of the institutional markets in London, focused on European equity markets.

Toner has a degree in law from the University of Oxford and holds the Chartered Financial Analyst designation. He is a member of the CFA Institute and the CFA Society of Seattle.

Rusty George: Principal and Creative, Rusty George Creative

Wednesday, November 4, 2015
6 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Leraas Hall, Rieke Science Center

Rusty George Creative is a Northwest branding and brand strategy agency. George and his merry band of thinkers and artists have produced award-winning campaigns for the Washington State Nursery and Landscaping Association, Washington State Historical Society, Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, Metro Parks Tacoma, Northwest Trek, Pierce County Public Works, City of Sequim and City of University Place, to name a few.

George is passionate about effective brand storytelling and donates his time and talent to several nonprofit organizations. He has been recognized as Small Business Person of the Year for the State of Washington, 2008.

It’s a crowded and noisy world out there, George says. To make an impact with your audience, you have to do more than talk about what you do. You have to tell your unique story in a powerful way that will instantly grab their attention, connect with them on a visceral level, and inspire and motivate them to align with your brand and adopt you into their busy lifestyle.

George says brand is not just a logo. It’s the holistic experience in the eyes of your audience that defines everything you stand for and stands you apart from your competition. In an entertaining and informative presentation, George will walk you through the entire process, from strategy (purpose, position, promotion, pitch) to tactics (logo, messaging, advertising, video and web) and how to tie it together in building an effective marketing vehicle.