'Captain Class' author, comedy troupe on 2019 summit keynote line-up

The past line-up of keynote speakers at The Ohio State University Center for Operational Excellence’s annual summit has included a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, bestselling authors, renowned researchers, and accomplished business leaders.

This year, the bar stays high.

The kickoff keynote for COE’s seventh-annual Leading Through Excellence summit, April 9-11, is Sam Walker (pictured, right), an editor at the Wall Street Journal and author of the bestselling business book The Captain Class: The Hidden Force That Creates the World’s Greatest Teams. A former reporter, sports columnist, and sports editor, Walker founded the Journal’s prize-winning daily sports coverage a decade ago.


In The Captain Class, the focus of Walker’s kickoff keynote the morning of April 10, he takes an up-close look at the 17 most dominant teams in sports history to extract a bold new theory of leadership. Walker contends that all these team had one thing in common: They employed the same type of captain, a singular leader with an unconventional set of skills and tendencies. Upon its release, Captain Class was named one of the best business books of the year by CNBC, The New York Times, Forbes, Sports Illustrated, and more.

Closing out the summit on the following day is Libby Gill, a corporate executive-turned-executive coach who released The Hope-Driven Leader last year. Gill rose through the ranks of the entertainment industry to eventually become VP of publicity for Sony’s global television division and went on to lead communications for companies such as Universal and Turner Broadcasting. Today, she works with clients including Disney, Honda, Kellogg Co., Microsoft, and more, helping them lead their teams through change, challenges, and chaos.

While the keynotes bookending the second and third days of the summit are set to provide critical insights to drive new leadership and team-building behaviors, the closing act before the summit’s big day-two networking reception is intended to take a step away from the serious stuff. New York City-based workplace musical/comedy troupe The Water Coolers will take the stage Wednesday afternoon, skewering the world of deadlines, KPIs, and countermeasures.


These three keynotes are just a few of the nearly 50 sessions available across the three days of the summit, which include workshops, tours, and breakout sessions from a mix of industry leaders and top Ohio State researchers. Check out COE’s summit website for more details on the summit, which is open for early bird registration – and discounts of up to 15% - through Feb. 11.

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