2013 Executive Excellence Awards: Overview

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Executive excellence is about good leadership and great execution. It’s about inspiring employees to put their best efforts into their work, whether they’re creating something completely new or serving customers in the best possible way day after day. Colleen Brown recalls that when she took over as CEO of Fisher Communications, the company had “great people and they just needed to be allowed to excel.”

Every great executive has his or her own particular way of eliciting excellence in others. For Inrix CEO Bryan Mistele, it’s about being transparency regarding finances, so employees feel like owners. For Dara Khosrowshahi at Expedia, it’s about uniting employees behind the mission of revolutionizing travel through technology. For Expeditors International CEO Peter Rose, it’s about hiring and training the right kind of people. For Columbia Bank’s Melanie Dressel, it’s about good communication.

Of course, building a great organization isn’t just about having a great CEO. Strong management means having great leadership at every level. When Sterling Bank lost its way and came close to bankruptcy, the bank was lucky to have Ezra Eckhardt step in as COO to help raise capital, cut costs and shrink bad assets so it could focus on what it does best: customer service. Marcia Mason, the vice president of human resources at Esterline Technologes for 19 years and now its general counsel, made sure culture and values remained intact even as the company acquired dozens of other firms. And as chief legal officer of F5 Networks, Jeff Christianson has played a key role in identifying and protecting the firms’s key technologies.

There are as many roads to great leadership as there are people. As evidence, we present the winners of our inaugural Executive Excellence Awards:

Jerry Lee, Chairman, MulvannyG2 Architecture – Lifetime Achievement Award recipient
Peter Rose, Chairman & CEO, Expeditors International
Megan Karch, CEO, FareStart
Colleen Brown, President & CEO, Fisher Communications
Steven Singh, Chairman & CEO, Concur Technologies
Dara Khosrowshahi, President & CEO, Expedia
Melanie Dressel, President & CEO, Columbia Bank
Bryan Mistele, President & CEO, Inrix
Mary Ellen Stone, Executive Director, King County Sexual Assault Resource
Ezra Eckhardt, President & COO, Sterling Bank
Kathryn Flores, Chief Administrative Officer, Child Care Resources of King County
Jeff Christianson, Executive Vice President & General Counsel, F5 Networks
Kathleen Philips, General Counsel, Zillow
Marcia Mason, Vice President & General Counsel, Esterline Corporation

Bright Idea: Labor Saver

Bright Idea: Labor Saver

Forget email. Shyft Technologies makes shift swapping easy.
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New legislation requiring Seattle businesses with 500 or more employees to schedule workers’ hourly shifts two weeks in advance will be a boon to some, but it could complicate the lives of many workers and employers.

Seattle startup Shyft Technologies has created a free smartphone app that simplifies the tangled dance of schedule shuffling by making it easier for employees to swap shifts and for bosses to get shifts covered on short notice. 

The app notifies all staffers automatically when open shifts are posted. Swaps can be approved right on the app. By matching in real time the hours when workers are available with the hours employees need work done, the app creates a more efficient market.

A worker or manager can easily add a bonus as an incentive to fill a shift on short notice, says

Shyft CEO Brett Patrontasch. “It’s a lot easier than email,” he observes. Meanwhile, workers can quickly change their availability status if they want to make more money or free up more time.

The Shyft app uses a combination of geolocation, financial transactions, machine learning and big data analytics to determine availability and pricing. The goal is to create an on-demand workforce that has more control over schedules while providing employers with the fluidity to operate efficiently.

As of late September, more than 12,000 Starbucks baristas, 3,500 Old Navy staffers and 7,500 McDonald’s employees were using Shyft’s app.

Founded in Toronto, the startup moved to Seattle in February to participate in the three-month Techstars mentoring program. This past summer, Shyft obtained $1.5 million in funding from Seattle’s Madrona Venture Group and other investors.