Thursday, June 30, 2022

Triad: Learning tree

BB&T, which prides itself on loyalty and common purpose, is stepping up its game with a plush leadership training site near Piedmont Triad International Airport. It’s a pet project of CEO Kelly King, who has worked at the Winston-Salem-based bank for 45 years.

BB&T got into the leadership consulting business in 1994 when it bought Farr Associates, a High Point-based company run by psychologist Jim Farr. He had started the business after co-founding the Center for Creative Leadership, a much bigger Greensboro-based training nonprofit. Farr, who died in 2000, developed strong ties with former BB&T CEO John Allison and King, who have long stressed the importance of teaching core philosophies to the bank’s managers.

While the renamed BB&T Leadership Institute has had its own office in High Point, the new site is a game changer, says Will Sutton, who runs the 25-employee center. BB&T is investing $34 million in the 58,000-square-foot property, which will have 48 overnight guest rooms for clients who typically spend $7,000 to attend the main, five-day training program. The new center is scheduled to open in early 2018.

About 30% of clients are companies, mostly bank customers, that want more skilled leaders, Sutton says. Another 40% of attendees are BB&T staffers, with the balance being principals and other school leaders. Proceeds from paying customers are used to provide free training to the educators.

King’s vision was a center that would rival executive education centers at Duke University, the University of Chicago andother premier business schools, Sutton says. Five in-house consultants provide most of the training, which has a heavy emphasis on self-awareness, Sutton says. “I’m a banker who is now becoming a hotelier” in his 25th year at BB&T, he says. While the competition may not make BB&T popular with nearby hotels, Sutton expects having attendees on site full time will build camaraderie and improve efficiency.

Winston-Salem-based CJMW designed the new three-level building, which will include a meeting room built to feel like a treehouse. Which sounds appropriate for the corporate climbers populating the place over the next few decades.

WINSTON-SALEM — Julie Ann Freischlag was named chief executive officer of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. She succeeds John McConnell, CEO since 2008, who will lead the newly created Wake Forest Healthcare Ventures. Freischlag, 62, comes from University of California Davis, where she was a vice chancellor and dean of the medical school.

WINSTON-SALEM — Novant Health named Rick Brajer senior vice president of business strategies. Brajer was secretary of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services from August 2015 until January. He previously was CEO of LipoScience, a Raleigh-based health diagnostics firm that was acquired by LabCorp in 2014.

HIGH POINT — Alorica, the largest U.S. provider of customer-service operations, will add 600 jobs. The Irvine, Calif.-based company added 800 jobs last year after acquiring Expert Global Solutions, which operated a local call center. Wages were not disclosed.

David Mildenberg
David Mildenberg is editor of Business North Carolina. Reach him at

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