Nearly 220 Central Indiana Wabash men packed the Ivy Tech Culinary Center banquet room Thursday morning as the Indianapolis Association of Wabash Men’s Leadership Breakfast honored Kelly Pfledderer ’96 as its Man of the Year.
Now in its second year, the event included a panel discussion with Connie Lawson, Indiana Secretary of State; Marc Nichols ’92, Legal Counsel & Director of Compliance, Rolls-Royce North America; and Jake Gilbert ’98, head football coach at Westfield High School.
Brandon Clifton ’06, the Deputy Secretary of State, introduced Canvas Founder and CEO Aman Brar ’99, who moderated the discussion that addressed civic and political engagement, mentors, and risk taking.Lawson spoke early about the need to get involved in your community. She mentioned that even though many think of politics more broadly, a great deal of impact can be felt close to home.
“Participation starts young,” she said. “Not just at the national and state level, but locally as well. That’s where much of the political work happens.”
Gilbert, whose Shamrocks captured the Indiana Class 5A state football championship in November, was asked about how he deals with adversity, and how he shares those lessons with his students.
“Adversity is an opportunity,” he said. “It’s part of the process. You weather the storm and control what you can. Knowing that (adversity) won’t last forever, it’s about your long-term growth.”
When asked of career paths, Nichols told the gathering that simply having a plan was essential to his success.
“I knew from the beginning that I wanted to be General Counsel at a major corporation,” he explained. “I asked myself what do I need over the course of a career and all of those things become building blocks. I always have a five-year plan. Knowing what I am going to do next keeps me from fearing the unknown.”
He also spoke of the importance of mentors. Not simply on the impact they have on you, but on the impact you could have in another’s life.
“Mentors are incredibly important no matter how old you are,” Nichols said. “No one can figure out the path to life without mentorships. Be sure to return the favor because there are always people looking up to you.”
Pfledderer, the founder and former CEO of Apparatus, was humbled to receive the honor amongst a room of his peers and mentioned how Wabash aided in his success.
“This award is very meaningful to me because I realize how many people in this room are friends and colleagues of mine,” he said. “Wabash College built my confidence. I’ve always been a bit of a risk taker, but I’m a better risk taker because of the experience.”
Brar, a former co-worker at Apparatus, spoke highly of Pfledderer’s leadership qualities.
“His eye for talent, for great design, and for doing things the right way, combined with a willingness to empower people to accomplish great things shows that he has a lot of classic leadership strengths,” Brar said. “There is no one more deserving for his business accomplishments and for his commitment to the community, which is an even bigger statement about who Kelly is.”