St. Cloud State University’s 2023 annual Leadership Breakfast took place Thursday, June 8 at Union Depot in St. Paul.
President Robbyn Wacker was part of a panel with John Bryant, CEO of GeoComm, and Aaron Fisk ’04, Senior VP of Custom Partnerships with Microbiologics. The panel, moderated by SCSU Foundation President Lynne Warne ’85, discussed the importance of private and public partnerships in higher education.
Bryant has nearly 40 years of experience in sales, product management, marketing and general management. Over that time period, he has worked in a wide range of roles and organizations — from being the second person hired for an internet business startup, to managing multiple similar businesses within larger organizations, to managing a field organization of over 4,00 people. He has spent the last 25 years in senior-level executive positions, each with a focus on driving profitable growth. Throughout this experience, he has tackled business problems and realigned organizations and teams with market opportunities.
Fisk has been with Microbiologics since 2015. Prior to Microbiologics, he led the human resources efforts at Automotive Parts Headquarters — a regional automotive parts wholesale and retail business — for over 10 years. He is a licensed attorney in the state of Minnesota. He received an undergraduate degree from University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, a Juris Doctorate from the University of Minnesota, and an MBA from St. Cloud State.
During the fireside chat portion of the Leadership Breakfast, topics such as SCSU’s impact on the local economy, the impact and potential concerns surrounding advancements in artificial intelligence, and the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace were just a few of the topics discussed.
Both Bryant and Fisk said critical thinking and collaboration are important skills they value in employees, and that GeoComm and Microbiologics — and their parent company Granite Partners — have a strong partnership with St. Cloud State. A number of students were involved with research and development for first responder communications leading up to Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis in 2018, Bryant said, and a number of those students are now SCSU alumni employed by GeoComm. SCSU is “one of three gems” in the St. Cloud region, according to Bryant, along with the CentraCare hospital system and the vibrant downtown area. Without those gems, he said the local economy would suffer.
Fisk said Microbiologics’ partnership with St. Cloud State has been a “mutually beneficial opportunity.” He said the more companies are engaged with universities like SCSU, the more access they’ll have to the “pipeline” of potential employees preparing to join the workforce.
President Wacker ended the event by outlining how St. Cloud State sets itself apart from other institutions, from an ideal size where students don’t feel lost in the crowd, to a variety of academic opportunities and plenty of resources at hand — including partnerships with local and regional companies and industries to give students experience and networking opportunities moving forward.