Chuck Hyde leaving CEO post at Soderquist Leadership

by Paul Gatling ( 464 views 

Chuck Hyde, CEO of Soderquist Leadership in Siloam Springs since 2010, is leaving the leadership development organization to pursue other opportunities, effective June 30.

Hyde, 47, told Talk Business & Politics-Northwest Arkansas Business Journal his successor at the nonprofit will be Vice President of Operations Lori Chalmers. Hyde said the organization has been working on the transition process for several months.

“The reality is that the organization is in a really good place; it’s healthy and in a position of strength,” said Hyde, who joined the nonprofit in 2005 and assumed a leadership role in 2008, eventually becoming CEO in 2010. “Two years ago, I was too imbedded in too many things and we had not identified a successor, but today, I think we’re ready. Lori is ready. She is a tremendous leader and we have been preparing for this if the time ever came to be, and it has. When the organization is ready, and the successor is ready, and we can do it from a position of strength, it’s a pretty good time.”

Soderquist Leadership is on the campus of John Brown University in Siloam Springs and has about 25 full- and part-time employees. The center provides leadership development to organizations of all sizes, from Wal-Mart Stores down to other local and regional companies and nonprofits.

It was named for its founding executive, the late Don Soderquist, former chief operating officer of Wal-Mart and a 2010 inductee into the Arkansas Business Hall of Fame. He died last July from complications of heart surgery. He was 82.

In 1998, Soderquist partnered with John Brown University president Lee Balzer to found Soderquist Leadership, focusing on Soderquist’s favorite topics — business ethics and leadership. The center has served more than 50,000 people in the last 19 years.

In the aftermath of Soderquist’s death last year, Hyde recalled that he and Soderquist would often talk about the center not being too dependent on its namesake, in order to ensure its long-term success.

“I think that’s one thing I am proud of, is that we have done that,” Hyde said. “We were not caught flat-footed without our founder. We had been working toward being able to ride the bike on our own, as I liked to put it. And it worked. To everyone’s credit. What Soderquist Leadership has become is well beyond Don himself, or me for that matter, and we worked hard for that.”

Hyde noted the organization is doing more business this year than last. Overall sales revenue in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2016, was up 18% from the previous fiscal year.

“And we’re going to beat that again in this fiscal year,” Hyde said.

Hyde said he is “very open” to what his next career move might be. Prior to his work at the center, he spent 12 years leading teams and strategic projects for Kimberly-Clark Corp.

“I feel like I’ve had a unique and privileged run at Soderquist Leadership and I’m hopeful that experience can be leveraged in another role in a positive way,” he said. “Not everybody can do the things that I’ve gotten to do and meet the people I’ve gotten to meet. That uniqueness is not lost on me.”

Chalmers, a member of the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 class in 2016, has worked at Soderquist Leadership for nearly four years, and was promoted to her current role in July 2014.  She previously worked at Ozark Guidance Center for nine years and was on the executive team there for four years.

She is a licensed professional counselor and a nationally certified counselor.

Chalmers said she is honored to be transitioning into the CEO role.

“Chuck is leaving big shoes for me to fill,” she said. “I am most excited to be able to continue the work we do with our customers. We have the greatest customers in the world. The opportunity we have to be part of their growth and development journey is why we get up in the morning.”

Chalmers said her vision for the future of Soderquist Leadership will remain the same.

“We will continue to provide excellent leadership development for both for profit and nonprofit organizations,” she explained. “Our vision hasn’t changed. The core of who we are and who we have always been is to build great leaders. We anticipate an increased focus in the nonprofit community in the coming years, as we have always been passionate about the important work they do for Northwest Arkansas.”