Corporate Coach

HawksHeadShotAs one of the first 30 employees at Rollerblade, Inc., Lisa Svac Hawks ’85 was tasked with producing some of the first competitive in-line skating events across the U.S. to showcase the “blades.” Though she had never run a race, her job was to put people on skates, help them get in shape, and encourage them to have fun. She was part of the team that drove in-line skating into the cultural forefront as one of the fastest-growing sports of the time. When she and some ex-Rollerblade execs later launched and marketed “snow skates” in the U.S., these Sled Dogs caught on and were featured in a Newsweek story. The exposure and marketing resulted in Hawks’ traveling to the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, to work with the Norwegian Military Ski Team that would put on a dramatic display of the snow skates during Opening and Closing ceremonies.

This marketing success convinced Hawks that she had found her niche in marketing and communication, and that her decision to forego the field of broadcasting—even after an internship at the local ABC-TV station—was the right one for her. At each step in her career since then, new positions seemed to call out her desire to “build” something—whether in terms of products, experiences, relationships, a fine-tuned team, or an unusual market launch. She loved finding undiscovered opportunities, using good communication tools, and assembling a good team—and she still loves the challenge and fun of doing it.

She uncovered such an opportunity at Paper Direct, a high-end specialty paper company, where she was given 45 days to convince the leadership that her alternative idea to existing market launch plans could work. She did so, and the company followed her lead toward specialty retailing to small businesses, setting up distribution networks all across the country at outlets that sold computers and printers.

Hawks later landed at Musicland, where she led the full gamut of communications—investor relations, public relations, employee communications, earnings releases, annual reports, investor reports, etc. Soon after, when the company was acquired by Best Buy, she was invited to take a leadership role in Best Buy’s communications department. She enjoyed some “phenomenal” experiences over the 12 years she worked there, including launches that involved The Rolling Stones, Bill Gates, Usher, and other pop culture figures. Continue reading “Corporate Coach”

Running the Good Race

Meghan PeytonIn fifth-grade gym class, when Meghan (Armstrong) Peyton ’14 MAL completed the Presidential Physical Fitness test along with her classmates, she came in first in the required mile event, beating all the boys. When her teacher asked if she had ever considered doing cross-country running, she said she had not, but it got her thinking. In seventh grade she joined her first cross-country team.

She continued running throughout high school, where she turned in four All-State performances in cross-country and seven All-State performances in track and field. She is the only Oregonian to have won state titles as a high school prep athlete in the 1,500-meter and the 3,000-meter events for three consecutive years. As a college student at the University of Iowa, she was a four-time NCAA Division I All-American and two-time Big Ten Champion. She still holds the school record for the 1,500-meter run (4:17:41).

Though she says it took a few years to move beyond the joy of competition and actually fall in love with the sport, she is now busy making a career of it. Continue reading “Running the Good Race”

At 94, Stan Nelson Wins Gold Medal

Stanford Nelson 1942 yearbookStanford Nelson ’43, Andover, Minn., isn’t about to abandon his love of competing in sports anytime soon, even at age 94! This summer, he won a gold medal at the Minnesota Senior Olympics, shooting a 47 in the golf competition. In July 2015, he will compete in the 95-99 age group at the National Senior State Games, to be held in Bloomington, Minn. (The top three in each age category compete in the Nationals.) Participants aged 90 and over play three rounds of 9 holes, while all other age groups play three 18-hole rounds. Nelson’s caddie at the Olympics was his daughter, Cheryl Nelson King ’70, of Eden Prairie, Minn.

Stan_NelsonAs an Augsburg student, Nelson was a four-year letter-winner in football, basketball, baseball, and golf. In football he was named all-MIAC and served as team captain in 1942; in 1943, he was selected as an Honor Athlete. Continue reading “At 94, Stan Nelson Wins Gold Medal”