The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Dick Couch '64 Emphasizes the Importance of Leadership and Employee Buy-In

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RLF had the distinct pleasure of welcoming Dick Couch this past Thursday to speak about his management and leadership experiences as the CEO of Hypertherm. Mr. Couch, a Dartmouth ‘64 and Thayer ‘65, co-founded Hypertherm in 1968 right here in Hanover. The company developed ultra-high-temperature cutting techniques for industrial uses and is a world leader in this technology.

Hypertherm has received numerous awards for its dedication to the well-being of its associates, fostering new technology, focusing on sustainability and the environment, and creating a culture of continuous improvement. Under the leadership of Mr. Couch and his wife, Barbara, the company initiated generous profit-sharing employee stock ownership plans. Hypertherm has been ranked in Fortune Magazine's listing of the "best companies to work for in the United States."

During the session, Mr. Couch emphasized the importance of worker buy-in. He pointed out that the productivity of a company is largely dependent upon whether or not employees are motivated to reach their fullest potentials. Choosing a strong leadership team is essential. Mr. Couch also spoke about the pitfalls of overextending yourself by taking on too many projects at once. He recommended that leaders focus on up to three goals, achieve those first, and then gauge their ability to handle more tasks. Overall, his passion and life story inspired the Fellows to shoot for even greater heights.

The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences