In the Nation's Interest
2018 Awards Dinner Spotlight: Edward B. Rust, Jr.
Edward B. Rust, Jr. is the Chairman Emeritus of State Farm Insurance Companies. You can view his biography here. At CED's 2018 Distinguished Performance Awards Dinner, he will introduce Greg Case, the CEO of Aon.
What advice do you have for those who aspire to careers in leadership, or have just started to serve in a leadership capacity?
Leave the ego at the door. Always take your responsibilities serious and respect their impact and importance. Always communicate with the goal of providing direction and clarity. Remember integrity, once lost, is never regained. Accept the fact you do not have all the answers. Listen to others to gain valuable perspective, insights and empathy. Never be hesitant to change your mind when more timely and pertinent information becomes available. Nurture a deep curiosity about the changing world in which we live and how those changes will likely impact your responsibilities. Embrace change, it is expected and accelerating.
In America’s education system, is there a particular public policy that you believe business leaders are especially well positioned to make a difference in?
Enhancing the role of continuing education and the reskilling of our current workforce are critical policy issues where business leaders can effectively engage. Business leaders are well positioned to help articulate the changes necessary for the digital generation of workers to capture tomorrow’s opportunities and for older workers to upgrade their current skills. A variety of approaches including expanded community college and apprenticeship programs can adapt to help address these needs. Success in today’s world requires lifelong learning.
Under your leadership, did State Farm spearhead a particular philanthropic or societal initiative that you would like to share?
In the broad context of service learning, we formed a group called our Youth Advisory Board. Its goal was to help students develop stronger leadership skills, improve their communities and learn more about business. Thirty young adults, ages 17 to 20, were selected to serve a term of two years on the Board based on their leadership skills and community involvement. The Youth Advisory Board was tasked with administering a State Farm funded initiative that awarded up to $5 million of grants annually to student-led service learning projects that addressed age-relevant issues like teen seat belt usage, distracted driving and disaster preparedness.