By Mr. Bryan Gatchell (Benning)August 30, 2018
COLUMBUS, Ga. (Aug. 30, 2018) - The Maneuver Center of Excellence and 199th Infantry Brigade's Centennial Leadership Symposium at the National Infantry Museum at Columbus, Georgia, Aug. 29 focused on ethical leadership and trends in technology and markets.
The audience, comprised mostly of Soldiers from Fort Benning, Georgia, listened to talks by retired Col. James R. Harper III, former U.S. Marine Corps judge advocate general, during a morning session and by Scott Uzzell, president of venturing and emerging brands at Coca-Cola, during an afternoon session.
Harper was commissioned in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1983, he graduated from the Naval Justice School in Newport, Rhode Island. He served in the regular Marine Corps as an officer until 1989. He served as a federal prosecutor with the U.S. attorney's office in the U.S. Department of Justice in Atlanta, serving there for seven years. During his time, he continued within the Marine Corps Reserve and deployed to Kuwait as part of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit in 2004.
Harper sees ethics neither as a matter of intellectual debate nor of the letter of the law but as a deeply based component of character.
"It's worthless because everyone sees ethics from the standpoint of rules," said Harper. "Ethics are about you. Ultimately ethics are about what you think of yourself, your personal identity."
The bulk of Harpers speech was the story of Maj. Gen. Frederick Funston, a general of the U.S. Army, who had gained battle experience by joining the Cuban Revolutionary Army when it was illegal for him to do so, had commissioned as an colonel in the U.S. Army, had led troops in the Philippines during the Philippine-American War where he captured Filipino President Emilio Aguinaldo by posing as a prisoner, and had taken called in armed troops into San Francisco following the 1906 earthquake and subsequent fire. Funston's actions had led to victories and had saved the city of San Francisco. Upon his death in 1917, Funston was laid in state.
"I just told you a history that is your history," said Harper. "Not one time, I'm willing to bet, while I am telling you this story, did any of you say, 'Man, he shouldn't have done that.'
"Ethics isn't the word you want to use in this kind of situation, when you're evaluating your history," continued Harper. "Because your behavior is a function of how you think. And everybody focuses their attention on ethics and rules and regulations, and they don't resonate in the soul. I can't tell someone 'Your courage is very compliant. You're honorable, but it's not the kind of honor we're looking for.'"
Uzzel and Venturing and Emerging Brands, a business unit at the Coca-Cola Company of which Uzzel is president, "identify and nurture brands with billion-dollar potential, drive their emotional and commercial value, and serve an ecosystem of diverse stakeholders," according to VEB's mission statement.
During the afternoon session, Uzzel talked about large-scale trends in the market, which are in large part driven by technology, and how technology is accelerating market change. According to Uzzel, the market changed as much in the past 10 years as the market changed in the 50 years that preceded that, and that the next five years were going to change as much as previous 10. As an example, where it took years for the number of Internet users to reach 50 million, it only took days for users of the online game Pokémon GO to reach 50 million.
Uzzel said that research points out that half of any given market growth is going to originate from a previously unknown entity.
"Your next competitor is not the one you know, it's the one you don't know," said Uzzel.
He also talked in detail specifically about how his company seeks out up-and-coming beverage companies. Of the some 4,000 start-up companies VEB look at yearly, he said they only take on a little more than a percent.
Part of the work is the strategy, the business plan, the research that shows an idea is profitable. But Uzzel said VEB looks for character qualities in the entrepreneur.
"We spend a lot of time, even after we figure out it's the right business opportunity, to make sure the person has common leadership values and a long view," he said. "It's not about winning today, it's about winning long term. It's also about how we treat our people. It's about transparency and communication."
Previous speakers at the Centennial Leadership Symposium included retired Lt. Gen. Ronald Burgess Jr., current chief operational officer for Auburn University and former commander of the Defense Intelligence Agency; Greg Frady, Georgia State University baseball coach; and retired Command Sgt. Maj. Jeff Mellinger, former command sergeant major of Multi-National Force - Iraq, the stories of whom can be found at www.army.mil/article/210444 or www.army.mil/article/210397.
The final day of the Centennial Leadership Symposium includes comments by Maj. Gen. Gary M. Brito, Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning commanding general, and Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, mayor of Columbus, Georgia. For full information on this multi-day symposium, visit www.army.mil/article/210285.