Gilkey Executive Lecture Series
Caring is Good for Business
Michelle Cardinal, CEO and Co-Founder, R2C Group
5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 8
Gallagher Business Building Room 106
Free and open to the public
Michelle Cardinal didn’t choose to become a prominent voice in the movement to address Portland’s homeless epidemic. But when the problem showed up outside her office, the founder and CEO of one of the nation’s top independent advertising agencies quickly got involved.
Cardinal is CEO and Co-Founder of R2C Group, a $600 million Portland firm with more than 220 employees and offices in four cities across the nation. While not an expert on homelessness, she will engage in a conversation to share her “honest, authentic story about what businesses go through when they're grappling with homeless issues.”
In 2015, she returned from a business trip to find that a large homeless camp had settled right outside the doors of her business. The development had a cascading effect on her enterprise — visiting clients were harassed, and issues related to drug use and prostitution surfaced along with safety and sanitary concerns for everyone from employees to passersby.
“This is about business’ responsibility and our social contract,” Cardinal said. “Businesses have a right to run their business and have sanitary and safe conditions. But the question I would pose is, ‘What is our responsibility in return?’”
Cardinal’s career spans more than 25 years in advertising and media. During that time, she has pioneered the use of data to guide informed marketing decisions through the development of leading media analytic tools that use data to target consumers, derive brand insights, and measure behaviors. This unique approach leads to highly effective creative and media strategies that drive massive transformational growth for their clients. Some of these clients include Peloton, Chewy, Wayfair, Humana Healthcare, and many more.
Cardinal is an entrepreneur at heart and has successfully built three companies from startup and effectively steered the agency through four company acquisitions, successfully merging staff and cultures in four cities nationwide. In 2009, she co-founded Nero Del Gallo, with olive groves in Santa Ynez, California. The company produces and bottles more than 60 gallons of artisan olive oil per year.
The Gilkey Executive Lecture Series was established by Harold and Priscilla Gilkey in 2004 to enrich business education at the University of Montana by providing students, faculty, and the community with direct access to business leaders.
Gilkey lecturers address issues across marketing, management, finance, ethics, and leadership. In addition to leading classroom lectures and discussion, speakers present a lecture at a public forum on a topic of their choice and are invited to meet with graduate students and campus and community leaders.
Both Harold and Priscilla acknowledge the powerful impact of mentors and role models on their own professional and personal achievements.
Harold Gilkey is a 1962 graduate of the University of Montana and holds an MBA from the University of Southern California. He is retired as chairman and CEO of Sterling Financial Corporation. Priscilla Gilkey is a 1962 graduate of the University of Montana. She is retired as Vice President of Community Relations for Empire Health Services, a multi-hospital system in Spokane.
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- Raymon F. Thompson, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Semitool, Inc. (2007)
- Peter Georgescu, Former Chairman of Young & Rubicam, Inc. (2005)
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