Andy Kaufman started his career as a software developer.
“I’m a geek at heart,” he said. “A mentor told me before starting college that despite my geek nature, I should get at least a minor in business. This turned out to be enormously helpful advice as it provided a perspective that not every problem is a systems problem. Understanding that technology serves the needs of the organization was very instructive from the beginning. To this day, there’s no way I could be running my own international organization if it wasn’t for those lessons learned early on.”
Kaufman is president of the Institute for Leadership Excellence and Development Inc., which helps organizations around the world improve their ability to lead and deliver. This often includes project management or leadership-related training and coaching for organizations as large as the United Nations and as small as a 15-person company.
“Typically our clients are finding themselves struggling to consistently deliver on their initiatives and they want to boost that capability in their organizations,” he said. “Most of the time, this means working with them directly in their company as opposed to an open enrollment, non-credit course.”
Kaufman also teaches an MBA-level course at Loyola's Quinlan School of Business and classes at College of DuPage. It’s through teaching that he can help other people believe that they can lead and deliver.
“So many people in so many organizations are feeling overwhelmed, tasked with responsibilities they just don’t know how they’ll get done. I love providing tips, tools and techniques that empower people to lead and deliver,” he said. “I want my students to know that there are practical, well-researched approaches that work in the real world, as opposed to just theory. The best compliment this teacher can get is, ‘I used what you taught and it helped me be successful.’”
Kaufman is inspired by learning. He hosts a podcast called The People and Projects Podcast, which requires him to read many books and engage thought leaders on a variety of topics related to leading and delivering.
“When I look back 10 years, I can’t believe how little I knew. And I’m committed to that being true 10 years from now, if I’m blessed to be alive then,” he said. “I’m also inspired by people. I have a genuine curiosity about what drives people – who they are, what they care about, what challenges they face, and how to help them grow. Whether at COD or with a leader from the United Nations or with a project manager at a company in DuPage County or elsewhere around the world, every day in the classroom is an inspiration to me.”