President and CEO, FEI Behavioral Health
11700 W. Lake Park Drive, Milwaukee
Industry: Employee Assistance Programs, crisis management, workforce resilience
After working in executive positions for Metavante Corp., Ted Uczen had to learn about a different industry when he became president and CEO of FEI Behavioral Health, a Milwaukee-based social enterprise. Executives should seize opportunities to learn and reinvent themselves, he says.
“My first real boss told me, ‘I want you to sit in the corner, keep your mouth shut and listen. There will be times you want to jump in, but don’t. Not yet.’ I was in a post-college internship at the time and had been thrown into an account role at the last minute, but it amazes me how much her words still resonate and how important the skill of listening is to a leader – not only in being a good listener yourself, but in making sure your team also understands the skill.
“Coming to FEI from a career in financial services was a very different business for me. I could spell EAP and had a degree in psychology, but I didn’t know the first thing about the behavioral health industry. I met individually with every employee, plus customers, partners and board members, to learn about my team, about the business, and about people’s perspectives and ideas for the company. I had to learn the business before I could guide the business.
“Business, like life, will always involve some element of risk and fear. At FEI, we see this more closely than most through our crisis services. In the aftermath of a crisis, companies often re-evaluate and test longstanding processes and standards. The lesson is: Don’t wait! Don’t be afraid to reinvent yourself. It’s part of constantly learning and is something to build into your personal strategic plan.
“A desire to learn helps you focus well and execute well, which opens the door to further innovation.”