Leadership Dialogues: Speaker Series

Leadership Dialogues


The Leadership Dialogues speaker series is a fireside chat-style event featuring accomplished industry, political, and non-profit leaders discussing the latest ideas in organizational research and ongoing practice with U-M faculty. Speakers share advice on topics including how to develop leadership skills, lead purpose-driven organizations, and manage crises. All dialogues are free and open to the entire U-M community.

attendees on average per event

C-suite executives in the series so far

session recording views on YouTube



The speaker for the fall session of Leadership Dialogues has not yet been announced. More details coming soon.



Matt Gutman - Chief National Correspondent of ABC News

In this session, Matt Gutman, chief national correspondent for ABC News, was interviewed by Dr. Ethan Kross, professor of Psychology and Management & Organizations, and director of the Emotion & Self-Control Lab.

Drawing on Kross’ scientific insights and Gutman‘s real-world experiences, including his empowering journey to master panic attacks, the pair discussed the importance of leading with empathy and prioritizing mental health.

David Deno - CEO of Bloomin' Brands

In this session, David Deno, chief executive officer of Bloomin’ Brands, and Michigan Ross MBA ’82, was interviewed by Dr. Marcus Collins, an award-winning professor and cultural translator. 

Deno and Collins discussed the significance of building strong organizational cultures that inspire confidence and drive action. Drawing from his extensive leadership experiences, including instilling confidence in over 90,000 hospitality employees whose jobs drastically changed during the COVID-19 pandemic, Deno shared leadership lessons from his career.

Kofi Bruce - CFO of General Mills

What does it take for a leader in a 150-year-old company to navigate change and build community with 40,000 employees?

General Mills Chief Financial Officer Kofi Bruce, MBA ‘98, is a distinguished leader with senior management experience in a broad range of industries. In addition to his role at General Mills, he is also a board member at Lifeworks, Electronic Arts, Aspen Finance Leaders Fellowship, and Partners in Food Solutions.

During his leadership tenure, Bruce has responded to and managed through times of high inflation, supply chain disruption, racial violence and unrest, and a global health crisis. In this session, Bruce described how he views his role not only as the company’s CFO, but as a leader who has driven employee engagement through inclusion, empathy, and transparency when times were tough.

Robin Washington - Former CFO of Gilead Sciences

What does it take to lead and inspire others at the intersection of science and business?

Robin Washington, BBA ’84, board member of Alphabet, Salesforce, and Honeywell, and former chief financial officer of Gilead, joined Professor Yesim Orhun to talk about leading as a woman in complex environments. Washington, who ranked sixth on The Wall Street Journal’s  2014 list of Top Performing CFOs, has also been named one of Treasury & Risk’s 30 Outstanding Women in Finance and Black Enterprise’s 75 Most Powerful Women in Business.

Paul Polman - Former CEO of Unilever

How can business leaders take action to create a positive impact on the world?

Paul Polman, former CEO of Unilever and co-author of Net Positive, joined Professor Andrew Hoffman to discuss how business can be a force for good, accelerating action to tackle climate change, inequality, and other important issues facing society. To create what Paul calls a “net positive world,” Polman and Hoffman discussed, not only how business practice is changing, but how business education must change to bring about this important shift.

Mary Barra - Chair & CEO, General Motors

What does it take to inspire over 150,000 employees at a 100+ year old company to lean into an all-electric future?

On April 12, 2022, Mary Barra, General Motors Chair and CEO, joined Professor Lindy Greer to talk about leadership through radical change and her plans to have GM launch 30 new global electric vehicles by 2025. Barra described her leadership journey and the leader behaviors and practices that she views as most critical in helping her move her company toward this bold future. Professor Greer, an expert on how to lead adaptive teams and organizations, explored how insights on leadership scholarship relate to Barra’s vision and practice of leadership.

Two speakers talking on a stage


Related News