Loyola University Chicago

Quinlan School of Business

Dean's Speaker Series

Local leaders tackle "The Family Business of Sports"

Tackling the tender, often tenuous, issues of family and business was the focus of the evening as George H. McCaskey, chairman of the Chicago Bears; Tom Ricketts, chairman of the Chicago Cubs; and Michael Alter, owner of the Chicago Sky; came together to discuss “The Family Business of Sports” at the Union League Club on April 3.

The event marked the 10th chapter in the Dean’s Speaker Series hosted by Loyola’s Quinlan School of Business and drew a packed crowd of nearly 200. 

Pictured left to right: George H. McCaskey, Tom Ricketts, and Michael Alter

To McCaskey

What are the family requirements for working in the business?

McCaskey: We have finally nailed that down, with the help of Loyola’s Family Business Center. Our family business policy is that there are five years of outside employment. If there is an opening, and if a family member is qualified, they aren’t given any more consideration, but they also aren’t given any less consideration.

You are the namesake of George Halas, what does it mean to you and for the Bears?

McCaskey: It means a lot to me. Without the H, I wouldn’t be here. Our family wouldn’t be here. George Halas passed his legacy on to us. Our family enterprise is all we have; our goal is to do right by him.

How do you react to customers thinking they own the organizations you run?

McCaskey: George Halas said, “There are no problems, only opportunities.” I like to think of it that way. We consider it a civic trust. We think of it a tremendous responsibility, and a humbling one. When we don’t beat Team Voldemort from Wisconsin, fans feel it, and when fans are disappointed, we are devastated.

To Alter

How much attention do you pay to the press?

Alter: I have a very different problem with the media. There is frustration about minimal coverage. But when women’s sports are covered, the response is great.

How do you fire your family members and still enjoy Thanksgiving?

Alter: Separation between management and family is key because it creates objectivity necessary for business operations.

To Ricketts

How do you maintain your privacy?

Ricketts: No one on planet has more strangers saying, “I am however many years old, and you need to win before I die.” The media does a pretty good job; you set rules, treat them fairly, and they keep your privacy.

What is the most interesting thing about working with professional athletes?

Ricketts: As I get closer to them I see how committed they are: they want to win and are very proud; they take losses harder than you do. They are real family men: most guys are excited go home after the games so they can see their kids.

Ricketts: A ten-year-old boy asked me last week, “What’s it like to work with your brothers and sisters?” That curveball question was the hardest question I’ve ever gotten [laughs]. But in all seriousness, the Cubs are a family business, and have a long-standing relationship with the Loyola Family Business Center. Loyola is a very important institution both to my family and to the city, so on behalf of George, and Michael, and myself we would like to thank Loyola’s Family Business Center and the Business School for hosting us tonight.

 For more images from the event, please click here.

CEO: Let's get back to basics

Getting back to basics was the theme of the night as Jim Rohr, chairman and CEO of PNC Bank, spoke to a crowd of more than 170 during Loyola's latest Dean's Speaker Series. The event, held November 30 at the University Club of Chicago, marked the ninth chapter in the Quinlan School of Business' series and the first for Dean Kathleen Getz, PhD.

Rohr's speech, "Rebuilding a Strong Banking Sector," addressed the prevailing skepticism of financial industries as well as a plan for regrowth.

"Where are we going from here?" Rohr began, as he stood before a group of Loyola students, alumni, faculty, staff, and friends in the club's Michigan Room. "Banks must adapt to a new environment."

Rohr cast his opening statement in the context of recent change, drawing on the recollection that six years ago, Blockbuster was still a major player in business, while Apple was on the brink of bankruptcy.

That rapid change, he said, should give consumers reason to believe in the American economy. For instance, Rohr stated that unemployment has softened, capital expenditure has picked up, housing is getting better, loans are improving subtly, and there is still massive liquidity at home.

"We're moving up, albeit very slowly," Rohr said. "But simple strategies from the past can take us forward in the future."

Those strategies focused largely on three key issues: practicing fiscal discipline, competing more effectively in the global economy, and continuing to educate and innovate. Rohr placed particular emphasis on the third.

"Education today is more important than it ever has been," he said, citing a correlation between the drop in America's share of world output (down from 29 percent in 1981 to 21 percent in 2011), which is largely hinged on skills-based employment, and the decline in high school graduation rates (down from 77.1 percent in 1970 to 68.8 percent in 2007).

"This is within our control, and Loyola is certainly working to help change that," Rohr said. "There is no university you could be more proud of in terms of ethics and what you're contributing to this region."

To wrap up the evening, Dean Getz commended the audience for their insightful questions-which ranged in topic from recent regulatory effects on banking surcharges to the crisis in the eurozone-and thanked Rohr for his balanced "optimism and realism."

"I particularly appreciated that your speech focused on a strong grounding in values," she said. "Values have to drive everything that we do."

'Rebuilding a Strong Banking Sector'

Jim Rohr, chairman and CEO of PNC Bank, speaks to a crowd of 172 on November 30 at the University Club of Chicago. The event was part of the Dean's Speaker Series hosted by Loyola's School of Business Administration and addressed plans for economic regrowth in America.