Sikorsky President Dan Schultz Shares Business Advice with Students
Sikorsky Aircraft President Dan Schultz shared his business experiences and advice as the final guest speaker of the year at Sacred Heart University’s Jack Welch College of Business Dean’s Leadership Series.
Schultz, a Virginia native who now resides in Milford, spent most of his career working for the government. He graduated from Virginia Military Institute and earned a master’s degree from the National Defense University. Schultz served in the marines and also worked in the Pentagon. In 2006, he began working for Lockheed Martin, the company that acquired Sikorsky in 2015.
John Chalykoff, dean of the business college, moderated the event, asking Schultz about his military background and career. Then he asked Schultz about managing a corporation that makes some of the best aircrafts in the world.
Schultz told the packed crowd of students, faculty, staff and alumni at the Forum in the Frank and Marisa Martire Business & Communications Center that Sikorsky employees work to save people’s lives. The company’s helicopters do amazing things, he said, from pursuing enemies to transporting sick people to hospitals.
Responding to a question about the difference between leadership and management, Schultz said, “Leadership is something you can’t walk away from. If you’re leading a group, you’re making people want to follow you. Management is more about putting together strategic plans and mapping operational details. There is no way to teach leadership.”
In light of Schultz’s business success, Chalykoff asked him to name key qualities a good worker should possess. Schultz said workers will never be successful if they can’t ask for help. He also said communication is “critical” and knowing how to assess risk is also crucial.
“You have to produce trust in your teams; they have to trust each other,” Schultz said. To establish trust with employees “you can never shoot the messenger.” He said he never asks why it happened or thinks about who’s to blame. It doesn’t matter; what matters is solving the problem, he said.
With nearly 100 students sitting in the audience, Chalykoff asked Schultz about the qualities new graduates should have. “I expect you all to be good students, so it’s really about what you do in the summer. What do you do when you’re not in school? It’s a competitive work force…We need adaptive people, and we’re looking for people who are not trapped in one place. We want people who aren’t afraid to take on something new and who are flexible.”
After the dean and Schultz finished their conversation, audience members asked Schultz various questions. He told one student his greatest accomplishment since joining Sikorsky was partnering with the Pentagon to make CH-53K Stallion cargo helicopters. “It’s the fastest and largest helicopter,” he noted.