Solving the world’s toughest problems

Published: Tuesday 19th May 2015

As part of the 25th Anniversary celebrations, ACU was proud to welcome special guest speaker, Fred Keller, with his challenge: Why Business, Why Now: Solving the World's Toughest Problems.

 With the intention of engaging ACU and the wider community that the university supports, we were pleased to be able to entice Fred to Australia for this series of seminars in ACU’s campus communities.  Participants numbered 34 in Melbourne, 22 in Canberra, 50 in  Sydney and 26 in Brisbane.

Founder and Chair of the leading multi-national manufacturer Cascade Engineering, Fred is known as a ‘capitalist with a conscience’ for his early acknowledgement that ethical business practices can be both profitable and sustainable.

As a trustee and past chair of the WK Kellogg Foundation and as the former chair of the Manufacturing Council for the US Department of Commerce, he provided a unique viewpoint on how business, the foundation world, and governments can and should work together.

“The world’s toughest problems are universal: economic, social and environmental. Business leaders are instrumental in bringing about effective change,” he said.

“We generally leave problem solving to our politicians, but they are invested in staying elected and in power which means their structural interest is in very short term thinking. The business world needs long-term stability and business leaders are much more prepared and equipped to solve problems.”

He highlighted that CEOs have had a reputation of being focused on short-term profit making but that there is an increasing trend of corporate responsibility towards the workforce and the community.

“Most business leaders want to do the right thing but we’re not trained that way. We are trained to focus on maximizing profits. However, getting in touch with the inner desire to the right thing allows us to make a more positive impact on society and the environment.”

The seminar highlighted four examples of the initiatives that Cascade Engineering has introduced over the last 20 years:  ‘welfare to career’, ‘anti-racism’, ‘zero waste’ and ‘hydraid’ (low cost access to clean water).

Fred’s seminars were inspiring and enlightening, and provided a strong platform upon which current and future business executives can build.

Fred Keller