Investing in Work That Matters—A Conversation With Sharpe Group’s New President, Eric Eilertsen
by Grant Miller
Sharpe Group is excited to welcome Eric Eilertsen as our new president. Eric is a passionate visionary who has successfully led a wide range of public and private companies across the U.S., Canada, China and Europe. We spoke with Eric about his new position and his vision for Sharpe’s future.
Sharpe Insights: What attracted you to Sharpe Group?
Eric Eilertsen: I’ve spent a great deal of my career working with a number of different companies around the country. I like to help businesses optimize their potential. I’m originally from Memphis, Tennessee (which is where Sharpe’s main offices are located), and I believe my unique career path and skills will bring significant value. Sharpe Group has a rich history and is known for being an industry leader. I’m excited to see where we can take the company in the future.
Sharpe Insights: What are some of the highlights of your career, and how does your experience prepare you for this new role?
Eric Eilertsen: I think I have the ability to differentiate between “cool” technology and “valuable” technology. I enjoy finding opportunities to use technology to create operational advantages for businesses. I began my career with Procter & Gamble in Cincinnati, Ohio. From there I started a regional investment company. I was involved with early wireless and cellular technologies. I then sat on the board of another technology startup, which ended up being the largest seller on eBay, where we created one of the first online payment engines. Those systems didn’t exist then, so we had to create and build them. I have worked with Kroger, where together we created a 10-year technology strategy using discreet event simulation, predictive analytics and customer engagement strategies.
I understand the value of artificial intelligence, machine learning, simulation and how that data can create significant value for clients. These are all tools that can translate into the nonprofit sector, and we will implement these strategies here at Sharpe Group through our Wholistic Solution.
Sharpe Insights: Do you have a personal philosophy that keeps you motivated for success?
Eric Eilertsen: My personal mantra is that we should all be investing time—our most valuable asset—doing work that matters, that makes a difference and can do the most good. I believe accomplishing “significant work” is the goal when you’re investing your time. Also, I’m a change agent. Change is healthy. One of my favorite mottos is “People resist change until the pain to stay the same becomes greater than the pain to change.” I’ve never been a part of a company where this wasn’t central to our leadership philosophy.
Sharpe Insights: What is the first thing you’re going to do on Day One?
Eric Eilertsen: We’ll sit down as a team and take a fresh look at all the things we’ve been working on. We’ll see what we should start doing, what we should stop doing and what we should continue doing at all costs to ensure our clients’ needs are met. This is actually the same approach our consultants take in our Planned Giving Program Assessments.
Sharpe Insights: What did you want to be when you grew up?
Eric Eilertsen: At one point I wanted to be a rock star, but those things change over time. Then I dreamed of being a fighter pilot. I found my calling is to help those I invest my time and resources with to be able to accomplish significant work and feel great about what they’re doing. It’s important to never quit dreaming.
Sharpe Insights: If you could offer a piece of advice to your younger self, what would you say?
Eric Eilertsen: Pursue the things you love in life and have the courage to change directions in order to achieve those goals. The key is to be brave enough to change course, if necessary, to ensure you’re pursuing your life’s dream while making a difference.
Grant Miller is an editor working with clients to create custom printed and digital communications. He has authored Sharpe Group blogs and is a contributor to Sharpe Insights.