Phil Keil, principal and director of strategy at Zweig Group, Northwest Arkansas Business Journal Fast 15 Class of 2017, and Walton MBA class of 2016, reflects on his time at Walton, challenges facing the current business climate and how he seeks inspiration day to day.
Keil has a long and decorated history in organizational management and strategic leadership including over five years of service with the United States Air Force, experience developing sales and supply chain strategies between a F500 supplier and F1 retailer, entrepreneurial experience as the co-founder and CEO of NuPhase Solutions, and experience as an improvement engineer for a F100 chemical company leading up to his time with Zweig as its principal and director of strategy. He earned B.S. degrees in physics and chemical engineering as well as his MBA in entrepreneurship and innovation from the University of Arkansas.
MBA Insider: Why did you choose the Walton MBA program?
My decision to join the Walton MBA program had a lot to do with the incredible reputation of the entrepreneurship and innovation program. That is in addition to the vast network the program has access to in NW Arkansas and beyond and the status it has as a well-ranked program. Really, there is a myriad of reasons why the Walton MBA program made sense for me including the graduate assistantship opportunity to gain experience with global companies and a wonderful community to name just a few more.
What were your goals prior to getting your MBA and what are your goals now?
Again, there were several objectives. I’d say the main objective, however, was to gain the knowledge and understanding to start my own company – which we did! The experience allowed me to broaden my skill set and perspective such that my goals are now focused on how to drive purpose and performance for companies around the world. I can do that at scale through my role as partner and director of strategy at Zweig Group.
How has the Walton MBA equipped you to make an impact in your business or community?
The Walton MBA has given me the foundation, skillset and connections that have contributed to my success over the last several years. It has helped me pursue my passions and now elevate the industry through a variety of avenues. We make an impact on the architecture, engineering and construction universe and that makes an impact on communities around the globe.
What are the problems or trends in your business or industry that need to be solved for? What outcomes are you trying to achieve?
There are several challenges our industry faces that we are working on solutions for. It is acutely felt by all industries at the moment, but recruiting and retaining high-caliber professionals is among the top. Another challenge we are working through is how architects and engineers can better innovate, communicate and realize value creation, particularly in light of technological shifts in AI/AGI/ASI. There is a general shift toward the commodification of professional services which stands to accelerate in the face of machine learning and artificial intelligence as a catalyst. Unless we are actively involved in shifting to outcome-based or value-based systems of reward, we will never reach the escape velocity needed to move away from the input-focused time, fees, limited resources and skepticism that currently persist. Zweig Group will soon be able to announce a massive effort connecting practitioners, academia, and vendors to help design solutions for this challenge. So, for now, stay tuned for some exciting news.
Who do you look up to for inspiration or mentorship?
Is it too corny to say, my father? His example and the history of our family are major sources of inspiration. Dr. Vikas Anand also continues to be an inspiration. I have many other sources of inspiration and mentorship from names that you may recognize. I feel it is important to have mentors with a broad spectrum of perspectives and experiences. The real inspiration certainly comes closer to home. My wife, for example, is an accomplished cardiologist and is amazing with our son and family. My drive and inspiration derive from them.
What resources have been useful or important to you that you would recommend to others?
I have a whole resource list that I share. There are numerous books, websites and applications that have been instrumental. A couple of resources that others may find helpful are Blinkist/Mentorist, Duolingo/Utalk, Skillshare and Udemy.
Connect with Phil Keil on LinkedIn here .
Interview by Ariel Sibley. Introduction by Kyleigh Tucker.