The 2016 Executive Excellence Awards

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The fourth installment of Seattle Business magazine’s Executive Excellence Awards celebrated 14 remarkable business leaders at a gala on January 28 in Seattle’s Fairmont Olympic Hotel. As with our past honorees, this group embodies the traits of exceptional leadership and thoughtful management our judges look for each year. From for-profits to nonprofits, these outstanding executives show the way in inspirational, consistent and ethical behavior. Congratulations to all! Learn more about them on the pages that follow.

2016 Executive Excellence Award Winners

THEO BEACK

SVP and Chief Technology Officer, Vertafore Inc., Bothell

 

 

 

MEGAN CLUBB

Chairwoman and retired CEO, Baker Boyer Bank, Walla Walla

 

 

 

BOB DZIELAK

EVP, General Counsel and Secretary, Expedia Inc., Bellevue

 

 

 

RICHARD GALANTI

EVP and CFO, Costco Wholesale Corporation, Issaquah

 

 

 

KEVIN KLOCK

President and CEO, Talking Rain Beverage Company, Preston

 

 

 

MARK K. MASON

Chairman, CEO and President, HomeStreet Inc., Seattle

 

 

 

JOSH NEBLETT

Cofounder and CEO, Etailz Inc., Spokane

 

 

 

MARK OKAZAKI

Executive Director, Neighborhood, House, Seattle

 

 

 

MARY PUGH

CEO and Chief Investment Officer, Pugh Capital Management, Seattle

 

 

 

ARTHUR RUBINFELD

Chief Creative Officer, Starbucks, Seattle

 

 

 

SUE SHERBROOKE

CEO

YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish, Seattle

 

 

MARGI TOOTH

Chief Marketing Officer, Trupanion, Seattle

 

 

 

STEVE WEED

Founder and CEO, Wave Broadband, Kirkland

 

 

 

Lifetime Achievement Award

JOHN MEISENBACH

Founder and Chairman, MCM, Seattle

 

 

The Judges
Phyllis Campbell /// chair, Pacific Northwest /// JP Morgan Chase & Co.
Jon Fine /// president & CEO /// United Way of King County
Stanley B. McCammon /// president and CEO /// Joshua Green Corporation
John Oppenheimer /// founder & CEO /// Columbia Hospitality
Joseph Phillips /// dean, Albers School of Business and Economics /// Seattle University
Jeffrey Seely /// founder and former CEO /// ShareBuilder Securities Corporation

 

Coffee with Guppy: Seeking Authenticity with Tom Kundig

Coffee with Guppy: Seeking Authenticity with Tom Kundig

A chat with the celebrated Seattle architect.
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Tom Kundig is a principal and owner at Olson Kundig, the Seattle architecture firm and design practice founded on the idea that “buildings can serve as a bridge between nature, culture and people.”
 
Nancy: What does an architect do? 
Tom: An architect solves problems. We observe what’s going on culturally, both historically and currently, and try to make buildings that resolve a situation, whatever it might be. 
 
Did you always want to be an architect? 
Oh, no. My dad’s an architect, I grew up with architects around me and there was a certain culture about architecture that I didn’t particularly appreciate, but what I did appreciate were the artists in that environment. Eventually, against all sanity, I wound up in architecture and couldn’t be happier. 
 
How important is the budget when you take on a project? 
It’s critical because a budget gives context and, from my perspective, the tighter the budget (within reason), the better the building because it makes you edit. When the budget is loose, the building can become overindulged. 
 
Are you a different designer now than you were when you started out? 
Oh, yes. I understand a lot more about the human condition and I understand the technical drivers much more completely. Architecture is a profession of wisdom, and it’s rare when you see that wisdom in a young architect.
 
Do you have a favorite building in Seattle? 
It’s a toss-up between the Pike & Virginia Building, designed by Olson Walker in the late ’70s/early ’80s, and St. Ignatius Chapel on the Seattle University campus. 
 
Is there a building you wish you had designed? 
Nope. There are so many conspiring forces to make mediocre buildings that when a good building happens, no matter who did it, we should just stand back and applaud! 
 
 
Tom Kundig says his main driver is "to make as much as I can out of life."
 
Are there signature elements of a Tom Kundig design? 
My desire is for an authenticity, both in cultural function and in the way that the natural materials — whether brick, steel or wood — age and get better with time. 
 
In every project you’ve done, is there always at least one thing that you hate? 
Uh, yeah, on virtually every project, but I never admit it! (Laughs) 
 
What gets you excited about a project? 
A client who’s curious about the world because that person is going to engage and ask questions in a way that may take me out of the way I typically answer.
 
What has to be there in order for you to take on a client?  
Trust. If you hire me, then I’ve got to trust you as a client and you’ve got to trust me as your architect, that I’m going to be doing my best work working for you.
 
Have you ever had to walk away from a project? 
Yeah. It’s difficult but it’s not about me. It’s about the situation. I’m not the right architect for you, you’re not the right client for me and we are wasting our time.
 
When do you know if something you’ve made is good? 
When I’m drawing and things are happening and fitting together, it’s like listening to music inside my head. It flows.
 
Is there a Tom Kundig Life Statement? 
I put a quote in my first book: “Only common things happen when common sense prevails.” I don’t know who came up with it, but it always makes me smile and it’s kind of true. If you’re looking for adventure, or something new or something worth living for, you’re looking for the edge, whatever that might be. 
 
How do you balance your creative mind with your business mind? 
I think a creative mind is a business mind because business is creative. You’re dealing with a set of issues and you’re trying to find a pathway, trying to resolve the issues, into a success. 
 
What piece of advice would you give to your younger self, when you were just starting out?  
Be more secure about your abilities and less insecure about your existence so that you can do things with a well-placed confidence. 
 
What song would you like played at your funeral? 
(Laughs) I don’t know! I won’t be hearing it so I don’t really care. 
 
You’re stuck on a desert island and can have one book, one record, one food and one person
My wife, Jeannie. Beethoven’s Ninth. A hamburger. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
 
Who or what is your worst enemy? 
Noncritical thinking. People who don’t think about what they’re saying. 
 
Beatles or Rolling Stones?  
Beatles. I share a birthday with John Lennon and sympathy with his larger musical and political agendas.
 
What four guests would make for the perfect dinner party?
Kurt Vonnegut, Richard Feynman, Indira Gandhi, Muhammad Ali. 
 
Do you have a spiritual practice and if yes, how does that practice manifest? 
I was raised a Unitarian, so it is a very personal spiritual practice and certainly influenced by both Buddhist teachings and Jesuit friends. 
 
› For more on artists, entertainers and entrepreneurs, tune in Art Aone with Nancy Guppy on the Seattle Channel (seattlechannel.org/artzone).