Face to Face holds inauguration event


Courtesy of Wake Forest

Radical collaboration is a favorite philosophy of Wake Forest’s 14th president

Lucy Roberts, Contributing Writer

On Mar. 24, Wake Forest University hosted a Face-to-Face Inauguration Forum in Wait Chapel featuring a conversation between Larry Culp, University Trustee and CEO of General Electric, and Gene Woods, CEO of Atrium Health. In this discussion moderated by Marybeth Torbet Hays, a member of the university’s Board of Trustees, Culp and Wood explored the idea of radical collaboration and its presence in the Wake Forest community and beyond.

This forum was one among multiple events celebrating the inauguration of the university’s 14th president, Dr. Susan R. Wente. The Face-to-Face Forum specifically focused on Wente’s brand of leadership as it relates to the idea of radical collaboration.

In a video shared before the conversation began, radical collaboration was described as “the belief that a diversity of people and perspectives can lead us into unknown territory: that what we can create and experience, where we can lead and what we can solve together is only limited by the boundaries of our imagination and willingness to collaborate.”

When asked why collaboration is so important at this particular moment in time, Culp brought up his own role in transforming General Electric from a business that has strong separate functions, “but not necessarily integration” to one that now values collaboration as well.

“These functional superstars are terrific, but when they come together, that’s when the magic really happens,” Culp said. 

Culp and his leadership teams find value in looking toward the future and collaborating with one another. 

“What we try to do in our strategic discussions with the leadership teams is make sure that we’re not in those silos — that engineering is going to do this and manufacturing is going to do that,” Culp said. 

Woods brought a scientific perspective to the idea of radical collaboration, specifically as it pertains to the partnership between Wake Forest and Atrium Health.

“Healthcare can’t be done the way it’s always been done, so we really needed to revamp our business models, our technology models and things of that nature,” Woods said. 

Woods also emphasized the importance of innovation as it relates to the idea of radical collaboration, using the example of artificial intelligence and saying that “technology is going to transform the way that we do care.”

Woods’ awareness of the potential improvement of his field of healthcare through collaboration with new forms of technology moved him to engineer the partnership between Wake Forest and Atrium Health. 

“To get to where we need to be, I think we need the right academic partner that has these components,” Woods said.  

When discussing the strength of their collaboration, Woods also commended the university’s Program for Leadership and Character, stating, “it almost should be required for everybody who intends to be a leader.”

He continued: “Leadership is about establishing high-trust relationships, and that’s fundamental to radical collaboration.”

Toward the end of the conversation, Woods considered how the response COVID-19 pandemic has benefited from the idea of radical collaboration. Woods used the example of vaccine distribution to highlight the role this collaboration played.

“I had a walk with the CEO of Honeywell…we invited the head of the Panthers, and then we talked to Marcus at Charlotte Motor Speedway and said, ‘what would it take for us to do this mass vaccination event?’” 

The collaboration of these different organizations allowed for some of the most successful mass vaccination events in the country, according to Woods. 

Closing out the forum with a piece of advice for Wente, Woods reiterated, “radical collaboration is fundamental.”

Culp added: “I’ve always been so struck by how student-centric this wonderful school is, and to me, that’s the core I suggest we preserve.”