The Program

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.

Registration is now open!

Kofi email header

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, joins Associate Dean and Professor Gretchen Spreitzer to discuss the importance of authentic leadership and the role leaders play in creating a sense of community in their organizations, especially during times of disruption and change. Bruce, who was named CFO in 2020, 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. Bruce will describe 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. 

Professor Spreitzer is an award-winning researcher and the co-author of several books about positive organizational scholarship, leadership, and change management. Her research explores employee empowerment and leadership development, particularly within contexts of organizational change and decline. Professor Spreitzer will explore how scholarship relates to Bruce’s vision and practice of leadership. Join us for an engaging talk from leaders in both industry and research.

Program Type

Speaker Series

Key Dates

Monday, April 10 from 4:30-5:30 PM


Tauber Colloquium, 6th floor, Ross School of Business

701 Tappan Avenue, Ann Arbor

Participant Requirements

The Leadership Dialogue events are open to the entire community.

Program Sponsors

Cropped BBA Logo
Cropped BBSA Logo


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. 


November 16, 2022 in Leadership Dialogues, Leading Organizations, Sanger Programs

Former CFO of Gilead, Robin Washington, Discusses Leadership, Learning, and Inclusivity During Leadership Dialogues Session

On November 10, Robin Washington, BBA ’84, board member of Alphabet, Inc., Honeywell International, Inc., and, and former chief financial officer of Gilead, joined Professor Yesim Orhun at Michigan…
Read More
July 15, 2022 in Leadership Dialogues, Leading Organizations, Sanger Programs

Former CEO of Unilever, Paul Polman, Discusses Net Positivity During Virtual Leadership Dialogues Session

Paul Polman, former CEO of Unilever and co-author of Net Positive, was the featured speaker at the most recent session of Sanger’s Leadership Dialogues series. After participating in a private…
Read More