Behind The Scenes

If it weren’t for these individuals, the leaders and companies they work for would be nowhere near as successful as they have been.

November 14, 2014

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Amy Phenix Amy Phenix
Chief of staff to President Eric Kaler
University of Minnesota

As the former director of the University News Service, Amy Phenix was well-versed in the ways of the U when President-designate Eric Kaler made her his first management hire as chief of staff. Since then she has served as his top adviser, especially in matters relating to Gophers athletics, which are among her day-to-day responsibilities. She was a key member of the team that chose Norwood Teague as athletic director in 2012.



Bob DeRodes Bob DeRodes
Executive vice president/CIO
Target Corp.

Target Corp. tapped veteran CIO DeRodes in the wake of the massive data breach that hit the Minneapolis-based retailer. DeRodes brings more than 40 years of experience in information technology, data security and business operations to the $72.6 billion retailer. While he’s not the CEO, DeRodes’ role—overseeing the company’s technology team and data security—is now arguably just as important. DeRodes has held top positions at Home Depot, Citibank and Delta Air Lines, and has advised the U.S. Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security and the Secretary of Defense.



Chuck Lutz
Deputy Director
Minneapolis Community Planning

Chuck Lutz knows his way around City Hall. Lutz first joined the Minneapolis Community Development Agency (now CPED) in 1986. During the 1990s he worked for the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority and the city coordinator’s office before returning to the MCDA in 2000. Department directors come and go, but Lutz remains, doing yeoman’s work on big deals. He logged many long days (and nights) as the city was hammering out the details of the new Vikings stadium and the Downtown East mega-development, two major projects that will anchor the revitalization of the east side of downtown. While others grabbed the spotlight, Lutz did heavy lifting.



Dave Menke Dave Menke
President
Opus Development Co.

Dave Menke knows the nuts and bolts of development. Since he joined Opus in 1995, he’s presided over the development of more than 10 million square feet of office space and 2,000 residential units. In his current role, Menke oversees development in Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Chicago, Indianapolis and St. Louis. As the market has rebounded, Menke has been the point person for market-rate apartment projects such as the Nic on Fifth tower in downtown Minneapolis, student housing deals, industrial projects and office projects, including a new nine-story building to be leased to Xcel Energy in downtown Minneapolis. City leaders might try to take credit, but at the north end of Nicollet Mall, Menke has played a key role in reviving a once-neglected corner of downtown.



Jacob Gayle Jacob Gayle
Vice president of philanthropy
Medtronic Foundation

Jacob Gayle joined Fridley-based Medtronic in 2011 to lead the company’s philanthropic and community affairs programs. Gayle brings deep experience and a global perspective: He has worked on six continents and served as deputy vice president of the Ford Foundation and as a senior public health officer for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For fiscal year 2014, Medtronic contributed $67 million in cash contributions and medical product donations. As Medtronic’s business has expanded internationally, so has its giving: 25 percent of its grants last year were made internationally.



Kelly Larson Kelly Larson
CFO
Summit Brewing Company

Big things have been brewing for Kelly Larson. After navigating the financing for an addition that enabled Summit to double beer production, she dug right back in to facilitate the purchase of the structure next door, which the brewery used to finally start producing canned suds last May. Surprisingly, she’s not only the CFO of a $30 million company, she’s also human resources director. Fortunately, Summit’s level of employee angst is “virtually zero.” Why? Summit’s free-beer-in-the-workplace policy may be a factor.



Ken Abdo
Vice president
Lommen Abdo law firm

Minneapolis doesn’t have quite the entertainment cachet of New York or L.A., but Abdo has been able to make a good living here as an entertainment attorney. A rock musician in his youth, Abdo has represented major-market DJs and radio execs, news anchors, and musicians including Jonny Lang, the Replacements and Stephen Greenberg (of “Funkytown” fame). He helps locally rooted artists navigate the recording industry, which he recently described as “a slowly dying business.”



Kevin Gilboe
Design Officer
3M Consumer Business Group

While consumer products make up only about 15 percent of 3M’s business, they’re how most of us know the company. Gilboe came on board in 2010 and brought design into every product and packaging conversation. His is a holistic approach that unites brand management and product design in ways that charm consumers and cheer salespeople. “Design is a new way of talking with our customers,” Gilboe says. You can see that sensibility at work with the more inspired packaging 3M has developed for its Post-it products, and its colorful new adhesive tapes.



Lee Sheehy Lee Sheehy
Director, Region and Communities Program
McKnight Foundation

Sheehy was the Minneapolis Department of Community Planning and Economic Development director, and also chief of staff to Sen. Amy Klobuchar, to mention just two resume items. At McKnight, Sheehy has been focusing on the foundation-supported Corridors of Opportunity program, which seeks to increase investment and job growth for residents along transit corridors. Sheehy knows transit and regional planning, and has the political connections and chops to get things done.



Lois Martin Lois Martin
CFO and executive vice president
Ceridian Corp.

Martin joined Ceridian in 2012 after six years as CFO at Capella Education Co., where she guided the education firm’s emergence as a public company. She arrived at Ceridian—which offers back-office workforce management and services to businesses worldwide—with a reputation for superb financial management at several major Minnesota companies and extensive experience in creating spinoffs and publicly traded entities. How much of that background will be put to work at her new employer? It’s an intriguing question.



Mark Lindberg Mark Lindberg
Director, Relief, Recovery and Development
Margaret A. Cargill Foundation

One of the legacies of the late Margaret A. Cargill was creation of one of the largest foundations in the country. Lindberg’s job is to find effective ways to use part of that $6 million endowment to fund disaster-relief work worldwide. Lindberg, who has served at the Otto Bremer and Medtronic foundations, has said that Cargill’s efforts will focus on natural disasters that receive less media attention. His is a work in progress, but given the size of the endowment, worthy itself of attention.



Ryan Burnet
Restaurateur

Scion of real estate and modern art collecting legend Ralph Burnet, Ryan Burnet has made an indelible stamp as one of a handful of people defining a new era of Twin Cities dining out. He is neither the face nor the culinary force behind his restaurants, but has nonetheless managed to attract some of the best talent in the business, from chef Tim McKee at Barrio to Isaac Becker at Bar LaGrassa and Burch Steak. His next project, with former Cosmos chef Remy Pettus, will call Alatus’ Latitude 45 apartment complex home, at 301 Washington Ave. S., right near the new Vikings stadium.



Sarena Lin Sarena Lin
Vice president, strategy and business development
Cargill

Working for the nation’s largest privately held company, Sarena Lin is constantly on the lookout for new business opportunities. It’s a big job, because Cargill has 75 lines of business spread across 67 countries. Lin, who is headquartered in Minnesota, travels the globe to learn first-hand about Cargill’s operations and potential mergers and acquisitions. A native of Taiwan who is fluent in Mandarin, she collaborates with other Cargill executives about growth opportunities in China and other Asian countries.



Sharon McCollam Sharon McCollam
CFO and chief administrative officer
Best Buy

The last few years have been challenging for Richfield-based Best Buy, amid management shakeups and a tough climate for retailers everywhere. CEO Hubert Joly gets most of the attention but McCollam, who joined in 2012, is another central player in the effort to overhaul the company. She doesn’t talk much to the press, but McCollam was already respected and admired on Wall Street as a sharp retail executive. She served as executive vice president, CFO and COO for Williams-Sonoma from 2006 to 2012, and also served on the board of OfficeMax. McCollam has been instrumental in paring expenses from Best Buy’s ledger to improve the company’s cash flow. Best Buy remains a work in progress, but retail watchers have strong faith in McCollam’s acumen.



Tina Smith Tina Smith
Lieutenant governor-elect
State of Minnesota

With her Stanford degree and Dartmouth MBA, Smith’s intellect is apparent. But it’s her ability to describe a clear vision, build effective coalitions and cross the political goal line that gets people’s attention. After serving as Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak’s chief of staff, Smith gained the confidence of Gov. Mark Dayton as chief of staff in Dayton’s first term. Equally comfortable in a room with business executives or nonprofit leaders, Smith is now positioned to become Minnesota’s first woman governor.



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