Speaker 0 00:00:01 Greeting scholars and welcome to following the Gong, a podcast at the Schreyer Honors College at Penn State.
Speaker 0 00:00:12 Following the gong takes you inside conversations with our scholar alumni to hear their story so you can gain career and life advice and expand your professional network. You can hear the true breadth of how Staler alumni have gone on to shape the world after they reign the gone and graduated with honors, and learn from their experiences so you can use their insights in your own journey. This show is proudly sponsored by the Staler Alumni Society, a constituent group of the Penn State Alumni Association. I'm your host, Sean Goheen, class of 2011, and college staff member. If this is your first time joining us, welcome. If you're a regular listener, welcome back.
Speaker 0 00:00:55 Reggie Heba class of 1989 joins the show to discuss his career in corporate legal leadership. Reggie graduated from the College of the Liberal Arts with Honors and economics in 1989 and went on to earn his JD at Harvard Law. He shares his career journey where he has served in senior C-suite level roles for large organizations and a variety of industries, from retail to energy, to finance with vast responsibilities beyond the legal departments, including HR and supply chain management. Reggie, a 2020 Penn State alumni fellow provides his insight as not only a legal officer, but as a corporate leader who has experienced the highs and lows of serving in these roles across the country. This episode will be helpful for any scholar, and especially though seeking careers in law or business. You can read a more robust bio, Reggie, and a more detailed breakdown of the topics we cover in the show notes on your podcast app. And with that, let's get right into our conversation with Reggie following the gong. Joining us here today is 2020 Penn State alumni fellow Reggie Heth. Reggie, thanks for joining us all the way from Los Angeles today. As always here on following the Gone, I wanna start at the very beginning and ask what brought you to Penn State out of high school, and of course, what was then the University Scholars Program?
Speaker 2 00:02:13 Well, hello Sean. And, uh, thanks for, uh, inviting me, uh, to join you today. So, great question. So what inspired me to, uh, attend Penn State? It was actually, it was random. I attended a, uh, college fair with a friend under the community colleges in New Jersey, uh, ocean County College. And there was a Penn State representative there who, uh, basically waived the application and said, you should apply. I applied. I was, uh, lucky enough to be accepted, uh, and I actually attended Penn State site unseen, hadn't visited and attended, so, which was a very interesting experience.
Speaker 0 00:02:49 So what was your first impression when you got to University Park as a new student? Well,
Speaker 2 00:02:54 You know, once, uh, you know, we made the five hour trek, uh, into Happy Valley, which was a, a little bit of a surprise for this New York, New Jersey guy. Uh, I was really impressed with just the, the campus, uh, and the number of students who were moving in that day and the size and just the beauty of the, of the area. And, uh, you know, it did not, uh, re regret regretted at
Speaker 0 00:03:18 All. And then once you got here, how did you come to be in the, what was then the University Scholars Program? What was that process like for you?
Speaker 2 00:03:27 I actually, uh, started as a university scholar as a junior. So I spent the first two years trying to figure out exactly what I wanted to do, what I wanted to major in, uh, settled in the economics program in the liberal arts college at that time, and had a great relationship with a professor, uh, Dr. David Shapiro, who as a sophomore encouraged me to apply to the university's college program I did. And I was able to, uh, I joined the program as a junior and it was just a, a wonderful experience. Very different than what I had experienced as a traditional economics major with the smaller classes, a focus program and the thesis, uh, which, uh, was a was a bit of a challenge for me who hadn't, having never done that, but really a great support, uh, network that helped me kind of get through that process.
Speaker 0 00:04:20 I do wanna ask about your thesis in a moment, but if we can take a step back, how did you come to pick economics as your major
Speaker 2 00:04:27 <laugh>? Uh, you know, I started out as a, a communications major. I was thinking about a career and either some sort of public relations or media relations role and took the, uh, first year micro and macroeconomics courses and actually enjoyed them and did very well. And, uh, decided I wanted to, uh, move into a, a career in business. And by the time I had, uh, figured out that's what I wanted to do, I was pretty far down the road in liberal arts. And so I said, well, what's the closest program to business in the liberal arts school that would not require me to have to take additional credits or stay, uh, longer than the four years? And, and economics was close enough for me. And so that's what prompted me to do it, and it all worked out.
Speaker 0 00:05:19 I'd certainly see, so, especially if you've read the show notes and seen a preview of what we'll talk about with your career, but I know you were involved in that department and you were also involved in some things on campus. Can you talk about what you did outside of the classroom and how that's helped your experiences in your career?
Speaker 2 00:05:35 Well, a, a, a couple of areas. So, uh, as a junior and and senior at Penn State, I was a teaching assistant in the Department of Economics. And so it, uh, helped me to develop my teaching, uh, and advising skills with students at all levels in the economics department. And, uh, had to hold office hours every week and respond to student questions and grade exams and quizzes, which, uh, gave me some interesting experiences, uh, that maybe we can talk about. But, uh, and that was a lot of fun, but also pretty stressful because, you know, it's a lot of responsibility as a teaching assistant in my opinion, because really those students are relying on you to help 'em succeed in the classroom setting, help them understand concepts. And it made me at least think about sort of, you know, how you, how you learn, how you teach, how you focus, how you advise, and it's very different way of thinking about things.
Speaker 2 00:06:37 And you know, in my current role as Chief legal officer in my previous roles in various aspects and various companies, you're always teaching, you're always developing. And some of those skills as a TA I think helped me become a better manager, better supervisor, a better leader. And the other, um, activity that I was focused on was W P S U, which is the campus radio station. And I was a, uh, on-air talent and I was also a program director. And I just remember, um, it's a student run, student staffed. It was at the time, and sometimes it was pretty hard, uh, to get, uh, some on-air talent to show up on time, uh, or show up regularly, even though everybody who was on air talent, you know, had passion for radio and music, but it was, uh, somewhat like herding cats and everyone had different personalities and different, uh, interests and different pressures in their life. And, uh, so learning how to kind of manage a schedule, manage a team, motivate and incentivize people, uh, is a skill that I think my experience at W P S U, uh, really helped.
Speaker 0 00:07:44 Yeah, it sounds like you had some really good opportunities to put management and leadership skills that you use today even and start developing those right here on campus.
Speaker 2 00:07:52 Absolutely. Absolutely. And, uh, you know, at the time, you know, you're, you're young and you don't really appreciate, you know, some of the skills that you're building at the time, but I tell you, I leverage quite a few of those experiences every day, even 30 plus years later.
Speaker 0 00:08:08 So if you're listening and you're involved in something on campus, you're a ta, an ra, you're leading a club, think about how these opportunities can apply to your resume and use them down the line just like Reggie has. Now, you did mention your thesis experience and on top of, you know, running the radio station and helping teach classes, you also had to contribute new knowledge to economics. Can you talk about how you picked your thesis experience and how you found that helpful in the next stages of your professional journey? You know, as
Speaker 2 00:08:35 I was thinking about this, I never expected I would ever go to law school or become a lawyer, but my thesis topic was focused on the antitrust merger guidelines that were issued promulgated by the Department of Justice. So for those of you who might understand mergers and acquisitions, the Department of of Justice has these merger guidelines and if a company is acquiring another company and there's a belief that the concentration of market share that that company has, uh, would be too high. So it would basically control the market. The Department of Justice would use these factors in order to make a termination of whether to approve the merger or not. And so it's ironic that I ended up, uh, as a lawyer in my first role as an associate at the law firm was in the m and a department. But, uh, at the time, uh, Penn State did not have a law school, did not have a law library.
Speaker 2 00:09:30 And I just remember spending a lot of time in the economics department and the business department trying to figure out how to gather the legal materials in order to be able to research and, and prepare my thesis. So, you know, years later I ended up going to law school and, and taking corporations classes and transactional classes and actually doing deals as a young associate. So, you know, it's sort of interesting that I ended up, you know, going in that direction, not ha having any aspirations at the time when I was at Penn State to become a lawyer.
Speaker 0 00:10:02 So I wanna ask that. So I've heard you tell your story before, but you, like you said, you didn't anticipate you were going to go to law school. So what prompted you to consider that as something, what was that next step there? There's a joining link here between Penn State and going to law school. Can you talk about how that influenced that decision?
Speaker 2 00:10:19 Well, you know, my, uh, first rollout of Penn State was as an analyst at General Electric in finance. And I thought I was going to work for GE for the rest of my career and work as either, uh, uh, finance or, or some, uh, accounting analyst or some role in, in financial planning and analysis. And, uh, it was a great program. I rotated around the company and around the country. A friend of mine who was leaving the program at GE attended the University of Chicago Law School. And I was thinking about, well, what was going to be the next stage of my career? And I was thinking about going to business school and he said, well, why don't you consider law school? And at the time at GE I was working with lawyers, I was on real estate lending at that time. I started, uh, talking to the folks inside GE and some of the lawyers that were using externally and said, okay, well it's interesting to me and let me apply. And I applied and had the, the great fortune to get into to Harvard Law School. And, uh, the rest is history.
Speaker 0 00:11:22 So when you get to Harvard, obviously that's one of the top law schools, probably very aspirational for many and very well known. What advice do you have for scholars to succeed if they are going to law schools, especially at top programs like Harvard that they can use in their, in their journeys?
Speaker 2 00:11:38 Great question, Sean. And you know, I think there are a, a lot of things that come out of the honors program that, you know, translate well to any graduate program, but in particular law school. So having a real focus on reading and comprehension, the way that, at least my experience in the honors program where you built relationships with your professors and the relationships initially for me were, you know, I don't understand a concept or I'd like to talk more about what we're reading in class or topics in the, uh, class and, or maybe there are some other things that I wanna do in terms of research and I wanna be a research assistant for you. And the, the same hold held true at, at Harvard Law School and I made some really great relationships, built some really great relationships with some of the professors at Harvard.
Speaker 2 00:12:32 And in fact some of the classmates, uh, I had who have gone on to do great things, the economics program at Penn State where we had a, a seminar with about a dozen students and we just spent the first year of the, the University Scholars Program just talking about economic concepts and debating them and learning from each other and having study groups and, and working together. The same holds true in law school. Uh, a lot of your success is not necessarily about what you can do individual visually, but what you can learn collectively. Cuz no one person knows every concept and you, uh, leverage the knowledge of your study group and sometimes your entire class depending on the course. And so, so there are a lot of parallels between, at least my experience at in the, uh, honors program at Penn State, and by time as a, uh, one, two and three L at Harvard Law
Speaker 0 00:13:26 School. And obviously you went on to a career after being the 1, 2 3 Ls at Harvard, and initially you went trying of the fairly, I'll call it traditional route for a lot of law students. You went directly to a law firm and obviously again, if you've read Reggie's bio in the show notes, you know, we're not gonna stay at this law firm for terribly long here. But I wanted to ask, what was that experience like, what did you take from it and what prompted you to decide a different path was for you?
Speaker 2 00:13:54 The traditional path out of Harvard and, and many of the law schools, it's to, I've become an associate at a, at a law firm or go into some, uh, role in government or something along those lines. And so I took the very traditional path at a three years of experience at Kings Balding in Atlanta, which is top law firm in Atlanta in my, my opinion. And I worked on a number of significant transactions, mergers, acquisitions, took companies public, you know, on the security side, did securities advising. And I felt like, you know, working at least at Kings Balding in the corporate function gave me a great foundation to do, uh, a number of things that have, uh, helped me throughout my career. And, but one thing that I decided to do pretty early on, and Sean you alluded to it, is I didn't stay at King's balding particularly long.
Speaker 2 00:14:46 I was there for about three years and then I really missed being on the, the corporate side, the business side, and, uh, went in house, uh, as a corporate attorney to Home Depot and worked on everything related to the store experience other than the real estate and the employee side. So all the merchandising, all the logistics, all this sort of environmental work, supply chain procurement. So all those contracts and, uh, legal issues sort came under my umbrella, which was a lot of, lot of fun, uh, very exciting, a lot going on. But I leveraged the foundation of what I learned at the law firm to, you know, how do, how do I draft the contract, how do I advise clients, how do I communicate effectively, how do I analyze legal issues and provide legal advice that could be helpful to my business clients? So a lot of, uh, aspects and, uh, experiences out of the law firm will really help me, uh, think become a really solid in-house legal advisor.
Speaker 0 00:15:51 Yeah, you've had an interesting run there. So you move over to Home Depot and essentially you've gone through a series of different companies and you've had titles like VP of Legal, chief Legal Officer, something to that effect at these different roles. So I was wondering if you could just kind of walk us through place by place, what you did at each, the challenges that you had and what it was like adapting from one industry to the next. Because I think that's kind of a unique story where, you know, you've gone from retail to energy and finance and all these what you think of as different industries, but you've been able to take your talents and expertise in business and leverage them in each. So I was just wondering if you can take us through the ups and the downs of each one of these and what you learned that you can share with strollers along the way from each of those stops. So we'll start at Home Depot, work up to your current role at Capital Group
Speaker 2 00:16:41 At Home Depot. I spent about eight years, I was lawyer number 14, and again, was responsible for the operational and merchandising and it, uh, side of the business from a legal standpoint, helped the general counsel who I reported to at the time grow the team and implement processes to manage all of our commercial agreements to manage the way we administered contracts and the like. And then after, uh, my time at Home Depot, I had the opportunity to take on my first chief legal officer role at a company you might remember called the Circuit City Consumer Electronics and moving from home, uh, improvement to Consumer Electronics. I was there for about four and a half years
Speaker 0 00:17:26 For the scholars listening, you may not remember that one, but it was kind of like Best Buy, I think they were kind of in, yes, they were competitors in that space. So if you've ever seen the stores with the big red box out kind of over the doors, uh, you can always go on Wikipedia and look it up,
Speaker 2 00:17:41 <laugh>. Thanks for that, Sean. Appreciate that. Yeah, yeah. So yeah, circuit City was a, actually started the consumer electronics big box sector and for a variety of reasons ended up in bankruptcy in 2008 and, uh, liquidated in 2009. But it was my first chief legal officer role. And as you can imagine, when you're dealing with a company that's going through some competitive and business challenges, could be high anxiety, high stress, but from a legal perspective, it was a unbelievable learning experience because you're involved in basically every aspect of the business, trying to keep it out of bankruptcy and do whatever you can to try to protect the company. And for a variety of reasons it didn't happen. And that's what prompted my move from retail to oil and gas and energy. So I moved from Virginia, where Circuit City was based to Houston, Texas, where I spent about 12 years with two different companies.
Speaker 2 00:18:42 The first moving from retail to a company called Spectra Energy, which was a highly regulated gas pipeline and gas processing company. So radically different sector, but some of the experiences I had in retail, whether Circuit City or Home Depot, really helped me, I think, succeed in that company where you had a company that was going through significant growth transition. We were building gas infrastructure around country. A lot of leadership skills that I had described at either at Penn State or those other companies, I think really helped me thrive at Vector Energy was there for about seven years. We ended up selling a company when that happened, I decided to leave and ended up in a different sector of energy with a company called Marathon Oil. And Marathon Oil is primarily focused on drilling, so exploration and production of oil in shale plays, which you might've heard about in West Texas, New Mexico, North Dakota, uh, had oil rigs in North Sea in the UK and also had gas processing and West Africa.
Speaker 2 00:19:48 So just radically different than what I was doing on the pipeline infrastructure side. And there at Marathon Oil, in addition to running the legal department, I was chief administrative officer, so I had human resources, communications, facilities, were building a new, uh, headquarters, government affairs. So a much broader umbrella of responsibilities and think, you know, having had some of the experiences I had in, uh, my previous stops allowed me to be able to manage areas outside of the traditional legal department of what you would think a general counsel should be responsible for. And, you know, most of it was how do you manage people? You may not necessarily be an expert in the areas that they are dealing with day-to-day, but generally the concepts are the same. And it's about making sure you have the best people in the right plots and making sure they have the support they need in order to thrive and do what they need to do on a day, day-to-day basis.
Speaker 2 00:20:45 And so I think the, the CEOs that I've worked for have had confidence in my ability to lead outside the legal department. I think it's, uh, made my, uh, experiences much more interesting and diverse and it's given me the ability to manage all sorts of areas and different sectors. And finally, I left oil and gas and made the move to the West coast with Capital Group, which is investment and asset management. So again, another radical sector shift from retail to energy and now financial services, investment management, and a lot of the concepts that I've been describing in just leading a team, leading a group of subject matter experts translates from sector to sector. Now you need to understand, you know, sort of day to day what the business does from a legal standpoint. What regulatory issues, what legal issues are critical for the success of the business.
Speaker 0 00:21:38 So Reggie, I really like how you talked about kind of the part that translates across and that's the people and the teams. And I do wanna dive into that in a minute, but you've worked in retail, you've worked in energy in different parts of energy finance and capital management. How do you go about training yourself on these different industries? You were an economics major and you've overseen it. You said supply chain, human resources, these are all different disciplines that you can be subject matter expert on, as you said, in very niche down to specific areas. So how do you find the balance of knowing enough but also trusting to the experts that you are leading?
Speaker 2 00:22:17 Great question. And you know, it's, it's one of these things where you just have to, especially when you're leading large organizations with a significant number of, of people, you really focus on, at least in, in my opinion, identifying the best talent and learning how when you bring in that talent to support those areas, giving them the ability to be successful. So when I managed supply chain at Spectra Energy, I hired, in my opinion, uh, one of the top chief procurement professionals brought him into the organization. We jointly developed a strategy, and my job as his supervisor was to make sure that he had the ability to grow, to implement the strategy, to execute the strategy, and for me to try to minimize any barriers or restrictions so he could manage the team. It was the same for HR at at Marathon. Uh, a wonderful, uh, head of human resources, spent a lot of time with her and we were going through some challenges of the company and my job was to provide advice and counsel, but let her manage the function.
Speaker 2 00:23:29 And to the extent I needed to break down barriers, make sure she had the resources in order to execute on her strategy, do the same at Capital Group, different industry, highly regulated. So what I do is I spend a lot of time with the team. I inherited asking questions, what keeps you up at night? What are some of the issues we need to think about as, as a legal department and a firm? What's our strategic plan for the midterm and the long term? What are some of our challenges? How are we planning to grow? In addition to all that, I call it my orientation program. So my world tour. So I spent in an ordinate amount of time, uh, meeting with people inside and outside the legal department, just so I get a feel for the team generally, but also the business, what works, what doesn't work, how I can help, what I can learn from, get out to the field and get in the front lines and really understand how the businesses run, uh, outside of our headquarters location. And it's all about, all about learning, all about learning. And then folks get comfortable with me, I get comfortable with them, understand the business and the plan is to become a better legal advisor. Cause I understand the business, not just not the legal and regulatory world.
Speaker 0 00:24:39 That is a great answer, Reggie. Thank you for that. Now, I, I would say you've rocketed up the career ladder. Didn't that, is that fair to say? Uh,
Speaker 2 00:24:47 Well it maybe <laugh>. I hope that's fair. <laugh>,
Speaker 0 00:24:50 You're, you're, you're pretty modest, modest gentleman. But I, I think it's fair to say that, you know, some folks might hope to be in this role at one company and you've spent most of your career in these roles. So what is it like being the one, seeking a job versus, I imagine there might be some head hunters, some recruitment professionals involved in your journey. How do you navigate that space when you're looking for a change?
Speaker 2 00:25:11 Great question, Sean. And, uh, one thing I've always focused on, and you know, early on I didn't really appreciate that I was doing this, but I mentioned early on building connections with your professors and your peers. And what I was doing was networking. And you never quite know when you might need to leverage these relationships, but when I decided to go to law school, I needed recommendations. So who was I going to get to write these recommendations, professors, uh, my old bosses folks I had interacted with throughout my Penn State career and my early corporate career. And so just continue to do that. And you build these networks and you build these networks and I always say you never quite know who you are interacting with and what they are going to be and how they're gonna help you and how you can help them.
Speaker 2 00:26:07 So it's, it's always so important to get out of your office or get out of your, your virtual world if you're in a, in a virtual, uh, office on Zoom and just connect with people on a more personal basis and get, get to know them, get to know what they're doing. And that's really, really help me. And I would say when you do that, then interestingly, it's funny, particularly in the corporate world, there are a lot of people who kind of know each other and you, your reputation starts to grow and someone will say, well, I work with Reggie at this nonprofit and he would be a great addition to your corporate team or to your board of directors. And that's one way to do it. Then there also, you mentioned recruiters and head hunters, you get on their radar screen. And one thing I always did, even when I was a junior corporate council at Home Depot, you know, I would get head hunter calls and they would say, well, would you like to come to this company?
Speaker 2 00:27:00 I had this opportunity you might be interested in. And maybe I was, and maybe I wasn't interested, but I would always take the call, I would always chat with them. I was always let them know sort of who I was and said, well, I'm not interested. But you know, maybe sometime down the road, you know, in a handful occasions that was very true. And I ended up going on interviews and, you know, considering opportunities and frankly, some of the recruiters and some of the folks that I've worked with, you know, 20 plus years ago, I still connect with today regularly. So always leverage those networks, always love, you know, build those relationships and you know, it will, it will benefit you and you know, you can, depending on what you're doing and what role you are, you might be able to help someone who, who needs help.
Speaker 0 00:27:46 And you mentioned relationships. Can you talk about how a chief legal officer interacts with the other folks who are in the C-suite as they call
Speaker 2 00:27:54 It? Yeah, so generally in the Fortune 500 or or the public company corporate world, you have the C-suite, which is made up of chief executive officer, chief financial officer. They might be a chief operating officer, chief HR officer, chief information officer. And generally it's rounded out with the chief legal officer. And so at that level, you're part of the executive team and your role is to, as a group, basically run the business, execute the strategy, develop the strategy, and make sure that you have the talent to do that. So it's a legal role from, from my perspective. And so that's your, you're, you're there to provide sort of the legal boundaries, but when you're in a C-suite, you're focused on really helping drive the business. So it's a business, more of a business role than a legal role depending on what the topic is or what the issues are with that particular company.
Speaker 2 00:28:52 And so, you know, as I mentioned, you know, going down the list of all the, the members of the C-suite, each of the Cs have their role and their responsibilities, but in the companies I've worked for, you just have to be willing to inject your opinion or your experiences on areas outside of your umbrella. If the CFO would say there's something related to financing or liquidity, I would, you know, might interject or provide my opinion on sort of what we need to do or what what we shouldn't do. Or an HR issue would come up. It's my role too. If I have an opinion about how things should go, just make sure that, you know, my opinion is stated. So, you know, it's, uh, you're, you're, you're, it's beyond sort of just what you do. It's being, it's basically running a business, which is, I think some people don't really understand, particularly earlier in the careers where you're just really focused on sort of your business as usual, your day-to-day. But the higher you, you move up an org structure an org chart, the broader your responsibilities become, the expectation that you are going to be involved in more than exactly what you're doing, uh, will increase. So it's a lot of fun, it's stressful. Uh, you have a lot of responsibilities, probably work very hard, but, uh, I've, I've enjoyed, uh, being part of, uh, leadership teams throughout
Speaker 0 00:30:12 My career. I think it's safe to say you kind of got that MBA anyway, uh, <laugh>
Speaker 2 00:30:17 That's probably right,
Speaker 0 00:30:19 No, something you mentioned during the networking answer that you gave a moment ago, and that is that you serve on both nonprofits. And I'm gonna talk about those in a minute. But first, let's talk about serving on the board of for-profit ventures. You've sat on some of these, you sit on these for us, other folks. What exactly does that mean and what do you do in roles and how do you avoid conflict of interest with your day job?
Speaker 2 00:30:40 Great question. So I, I've had the opportunity to, uh, as a general counsel, I support a board of directors for the public companies I've worked for. And I also had the opportunity to sit on the board of Brinks. And you might know Brinks from the armored car, uh, that you see running around in front of banks and retail establishments. And it's a wonderful company that operates in a hundred countries and it's 70,000 employees has served on the board of directors. And as a board member, your responsibility is to help develop the strategy for the company, working with the management team, could be to C E O and the cfo and also make sure you have the appropriate executive team. Do you have the right c e o who can help drive the strategy and grow the business? You have the right CFO who can make sure that from a financial and liquidity standpoint, the business is as the, the tools to be able to grow in the other members of the executive team.
Speaker 2 00:31:40 In my opinion, those are really the two major responsibilities. Most significant responsibilities are public company, board of directors. There are a lot of other things that are required. I was also chair of the audit committee, so making sure from, you know, our disclosure standpoint from a securities exchange commission, all of our quarterly earnings guidance, all of our earnings, uh, disclosures and reports, making sure we had the right external auditor, uh, making sure we had the right internal control so our, our accounting was accurate and the like. So there was a lot that goes into it, but primarily I think it's the making sure you have the right leadership team in place and making sure the company has the right growth strategy. And uh, it sounds pretty straightforward, but uh, when you're in the middle of it, there's a lot that happens. And so it's a huge responsibility and I was, uh, I'm glad to be part of, uh, my tenure experience with
Speaker 0 00:32:32 Franks and something you've mentioned a few times, if you've been able to track through your head listening, you started in New Jersey, came to Happy Valley, went to Massachusetts, then you went to Atlanta, then Houston, and now you're in Los Angeles. So you've moved quite a few times all in the, you know, being able to take these great opportunities, but you have a family. So how did you approach the high demands? And you particularly noted the, the stress at Circuit City, so how did you approach those conversations with your family about uplifting and moving to a new opportunity in a new state?
Speaker 2 00:33:02 Some of it was just having really open transparent conversations about the opportunities that would be available, like taking on those, those roles, trying to understand the impact on I four daughters and moving kids in middle and high school was pretty challenging. So trying to put the right foundation in place, trying to think about, you know, the right schools and making sure there was a transition plan. And then once, you know, we had moved to sort of the new city, making sure they just had the right level of support. And so it's, it's challenging I have to say in a, when you're in a corporate role, particularly in the more senior roles, you find that you tend to, if you're gonna leave a company more likely than not, you're gonna have to leave the city you're in cuz the, you have to move to the headquarters location.
Speaker 2 00:33:54 And it's a challenge, it's stressful on, on, on the family and sometimes balance is hard, particularly in times like we're in, we're in pretty challenging times right now with the economy is a bit chaotic and, you know, all sorts of stressors and strange globally. And so just trying to provide that balance. I'm not sure if I was particularly successful in doing that, but at the time I had, you know, my wife was spending more time with the kids and dealing with the day-to-day than I was. And then early in our careers we were both working so we had to try to balance it and I'm not sure if we, we balanced it, but you know, they, the girls are adults and ling well, that's all you can and hope for.
Speaker 0 00:34:38 And in addition to family and work, you've been involved in a variety of nonprofits and one of the things obviously you're involved with is the Schreyer Honors College, you said on our external advisory board. What drew you to be involved in all of these different groups on, on top of all of those other demands?
Speaker 2 00:34:53 Great question. I'm a big believer in giving back and so I've had a number of mentors throughout my career who had decided that they would spend some time with me, help sponsor me in new roles or provide advice and guidance on my career and give me opportunities. And so I really feel blessed that they were willing to do that. And so I feel like it's my responsibility to do that with others, whether it's students at Penn State, whether it's students in the various cities I've lived, to the extent I can help, uh, some of the charities that I've been affiliated with from a governance standpoint and to the extent they need it, a financial standpoint, I think it's important. In Houston in particular, I was involved in a couple of different nonprofits that were focused on life theater, but life theater is interesting. I enjoy Broadway, I enjoy musicals and the like, but both of the Verities also had a mission to supplement arts education in public schools, which was important to me because as, as you may know, you know, a lot of the, uh, public school funding has shifted away from physical education, uh, arts and the like, and relying on outside entities to help supplement that.
Speaker 2 00:36:14 And so both of the charities in Houston, at least I was involved with, had a focus on school and students, you know, elementary all the way up through high school, and that's important to me. So, but gonna stay involved with Trier, so making the track all the way from the west coast to State college, which I found is a, it can be a day long journey depending on the time of year, but yeah, so it's something I'm going to continue to do and it's really important to me to be involved and to really pay it forward.
Speaker 0 00:36:41 And we honestly expect nothing less from our scholar alumni as part of our mission of civic engagement and leadership. Now, speaking of skills and opportunities for scholars, you know, you've talked about trying to pay it forward in education. What are some skills that scholars should look to develop now if they are interested in a path even remotely similar to yours?
Speaker 2 00:37:00 I think, you know, if you're a scholar, you probably have a lot of this, these skills already, or you're a learner, you're inquisitive, you ask a lot of questions, you can write well, you can communicate well. I think those are really sort of the, the basic skills you need to be successful in any, any career. I mean, whether it's on the corporate side, nonprofit government, and if you decide to go to grad school, I think those skills will, will clearly help you. The, and we keep talking about this, but the relationship building skills, I mean it's how I, I can't emphasize enough how important that is not just in the, in the, in the business world, but in the educational world. You know, there, there will be opportunities that will come about just because you interacted with somebody who just remembers who you are and says, well, maybe Reggie be a great person for this opportunity.
Speaker 2 00:37:53 And, uh, I think sometimes, particularly when we're early in our career, we're, we're very focused, rightly so on, okay, I have this job, uh, I'm going to do what I need to do. I I'm giving this task and we're gonna get this done. And you're, you have blinders on and you get it done well. And then you realize when you get your annual evaluation, your supervisor will say, well, you know, you've stayed in your office all day and you didn't really get to know the company or get to know your team or do some things that were sort of outside of the, uh, of the box. And that's gonna be really important. And what I appreciate about Schreyer, even more so than when I was a university scholar, is Schreyer really challenges all of the students to do things differently and really stretch themselves and go overseas, um, work for companies and these research institutions that are going to do things a little bit differently.
Speaker 2 00:38:46 And the last, since I've been involved with Schreyer, I've been so impressed with the quality of the students and the quality of the research and just sort of the plays and the way our students just sort of, scholars really communicate and present themselves. And you may not appreciate it, but you have a, you have a leg up on maybe some of your peers who haven't had the destroyer experience, uh, who may not be as comfortable sort of in front of audiences or, you know, presenting themselves and presenting their research because that will, that that's a skill that to have early on is just so important and it will just set you up for great success.
Speaker 0 00:39:26 I could not agree anymore with that. Reggie, now I wanna round into our last chunk of our conversation today. So this is kind of our standard reflection questions that I ask of everybody. So let's start off with what would you say is your biggest success to date?
Speaker 2 00:39:40 Oh boy. Um, I would say from a corporate perspective, I mentioned that at Spectra I was, uh, given the challenge to manage our global supply chain operations. And as a lawyer you don't normally see procurement, you know, under the umbrella, but the ceo, my boss at the time had confidence in me and we had some challenges in that area and he said, I, I, the confidence that you can fix it, about four or five years, I would say we were able to build, uh, a best in class global supply chain operation. Uh, we, the collective way was me, our chief procurement officer, our entire procurement team of about 350. Uh, and we were building infrastructure all around country, US and Canada. It took a lot of time, a lot of effort, a lot of sacrifice, but I feel really proud that we left that group, uh, and that company, uh, in a much better place than when we started. I think about that a lot and I talk about it all the time and, uh, I think that's probably from a, from a business standpoint, one of my greatest successes.
Speaker 0 00:40:48 That's fantastic. And you're definitely ahead of the curve on a lot of, uh, supply chain has dominated the headlines here in the past few years, so kudos to you. On the flip side though, Reggie, what would you say is your biggest transformational learning moment you've had in your career and what you took out of that experience?
Speaker 2 00:41:02 So I mentioned this a little bit earlier, but the four and a half years I spent at Circuit City, challenging years, the company with dealing with competitive issues with Best Buy, with Amazon, with Walmart, we had opportunities and people and technology and real estate and our supplier relations. And unfortunately it didn't come out the way I think the leadership team would've liked and affected tens of thousands of employees. But it was an interesting learning experience for me and where I interacted with peers who just really knew how to manage through crisis. And I really learned a lot from them on how to deal with uncertain situations and, uh, what to do and what not to do, uh, which is critically important, you know, what not to do when you're dealing with chaos in a lot of ways. And this was right around the great recession in oh eight.
Speaker 2 00:42:00 Uh, so a lot was going on back then, you know, some people are thinking about, you know, are there parallels to what's happening now in the economy? Not so sure but could be. Or you never want a situation to where, you know, the company is no longer there. But I would say one lesson I learned from that is don't shy away from challenging situations because you'd be surprised how much you are going to be able to learn from dealing with those challenges. And you stretch yourself as a person, as a leader and you probably surprise yourself as well because, uh, you just sort of grow that muscle of how to, you know, respond to challenges and how to basically, uh, learn to lead people, uh, in a different way. Interesting time. Uh, I'm not sure I want, would wanna go through it again. It was, uh, probably one of the most pivotal experiences of my career.
Speaker 0 00:42:56 You've mentioned relationships quite a few times. Are there any professors or friends from your days on campus that you wanted to give a quick shout out to
Speaker 2 00:43:04 <laugh>? Yeah, so, so yeah, definitely. Uh, Dr. Shapiro, who believe is semi-retired in Santa Fe, New Mexico, has always been a great supporter of mine than all of my, uh, fellow university scholars and the economics program who are doing just wonderful things around the country. We graduated a long time ago in 1989, but I know we're all doing well and they're a handful that I stay connected with periodically. Some of 'em are still in the state college area. I try to connect with them when I'm there, so hope everyone's doing well.
Speaker 0 00:43:36 Speaking of connecting, if a student wants to reach out to you and take this conversation further and learn from you, how can they get ahold of you?
Speaker 2 00:43:43 LinkedIn is the best way to reach me, is that all my email address and my cell phone number might change. LinkedIn stays the same. So I'm under Reggie Hedge Beth.
Speaker 0 00:43:52 Excellent. And are there any final pieces of ad of advice that you wanna leave for our scholars that just didn't come up organically in our conversation?
Speaker 2 00:44:00 No, this has been a, a, a great discussion, Sean. I think my, my advice would be, again, just ask questions. There's no such thing as a stupid question that seems cliche and people say that all the time, but there really, really isn't because when you're in a group setting or a classroom, be surprised about how many people have the same folks stupid question. Uh, and you're just brave enough to, to ask it. So, uh, and then people remember that, so, okay, maybe, you know, we, they were honest enough to, to know that they didn't know what was going on and had that question. So yes, ask
Speaker 0 00:44:31 Questions. Well, Reggie, I might challenge your assumption here with my final question that I always ask. If you were a flavor of Bey creamery ice cream, which would you be not your favorite, but which would you be? And most importantly as a scholar alum, why would you be that flavor <laugh>?
Speaker 2 00:44:46 I'd probably be, I don't know, I don't know if the creamery still has this flavor, but there was the sticky bun flavor. Uh,
Speaker 0 00:44:53 I think that is, I think that's a permanent one. Yep, it's
Speaker 2 00:44:55 A permanent one. Okay. So for me, cause I'm always into being as productive as I can, so if I, I can't go to the diner and I can't go into the cream rack and go to one and get both experiences at the same time and it's just saves me time. So it's about productivity and efficiency and managing your time.
Speaker 0 00:45:12 That is a great rationale for that one, Reggie. I love it. Reggie Heth Staler alum 2020 Alumni Fellow. Thank you so much for coming on following the gong today.
Speaker 2 00:45:21 My pleasure. Thank you.
Speaker 0 00:45:30 Thank you scholars for listening and learning with us today. We hope you will take something with you that will contribute to how you shape the world. This show proudly supports the Schreyer Honors College Emergency Fund benefiting scholars experiencing unexpected financial hardship. You can make a difference at rays.psu.edu/schreyer. Please be sure to hit the relevance, subscribe, like or follow button on whichever platform you are engaging with us on today. You can follow the college on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn to say up to date on news events and deadlines. If you have questions about the show or a Staler alum who'd like to join us as a guest here on following the Gone, please connect with me at staler [email protected]
. Until next time, please stay well and we are.