HBS-NEO Harvard Business School Club of Northeastern Ohio HBS-NEO

Membership: Member Interviews

Christine Cowan-Gascoigne

(Interview continued from e-mail newsletter.)

Q. Are there any simple truths you have found about leadership or leaders?

First, leadership absolutely can be taught. No question. Second, leadership is a value system more than a skill base. It requires interest in valuing input from all kinds of people and getting rid of hierarchy. I don't mean formally—you can have formal hierarchy—but regardless of the formal hierarchy, it requires that you listen to people at all levels.

Q. You were president of the HBS club of Northeast Ohio in the 1997/1998 time frame.  What did the club do well at the time you were president?

Well, during the time I was president, we began the push to get the worldwide alumni conference to Cleveland in 2001. I personally wasn't instrumental in this, but it was neat to see people come together to make this happen.

Q. What does the Club do well now and where do you think it could improve?

I really value the knowledge it makes available to me. As far as improving, I don't know that it can. It's a great club and it has great support and a tremendous administrative structure. I guess it would be wonderful if Cleveland could grow faster and have more jobs, then we could be a bigger club.

Q. What is the best HBS-NEO event you have attended?

I think the best is the Business Statesman award the year Al Ratner won. How much energy he had! His speech was very memorable. 

Q. Who are some of northeast Ohio's great current or past leaders?

Al Ratner, certainly. He was the impetus behind Forest City's renovation of Tower City which was so important at the time it was done. Downtown Cleveland wouldn't have had a prayer without it. He's been tremendous for the community. Also, Bill Seelbach and Richard Shatten, two of the founding members of Cleveland Tomorrow, were pivotal. Cleveland Tomorrow did tremendous things for this community.

Q. What kind of leaders does it take to turn Cleveland from the most impoverished city in the nation to a thriving city?
A. I think it takes an organization like the Greater Cleveland Partnership to focus on this issue of leadership, and leading the city towards something better. You need non-profits as well as corporations with big budgets to work towards this change together.
Q. What's your favorite artistic, athletic, scholastic, or other organization here in town?
A. Without question it is Case Western Reserve University. Having spent two years at the Mandel school, I have developed the utmost respect for what the new president of Case, Ed Hundert, is trying to do. He's a psychiatrist by training, of course, so has the orientation to be an incredible leader, in my opinion.
Q. What are some of your hobbies and interests?
A. Mostly I just love the Leadership Company. I read about leadership. I talk about it. And I love social work, too. Plus, animals are kind of a hobby, I suppose. I volunteer at an animal shelter sometimes, but I try to go less often because I always bring one home with me. 
Q. How many pets do you have?
A. I can't tell you. You'll think I'm a crazy cat woman. Just write that I have six pets and leave it at that.

See other Member Interviews.