ISU College of Business Executive in Residence to share insight of global business

AMES, Iowa – Companies are changing the way they do business today to adapt to the dynamics of a global economy. And if they’re not, Greg Churchill says it’s time to start. Churchill, who recently retired as an executive vice president for Rockwell Collins, led the Cedar Rapids-based aerospace and defense firm through its transition to become a global company.

Churchill will explain why every business – large or small – needs to be thinking internationally during his lecture, “Ten Realities of Doing Business Globally,” at Iowa State University. The lecture starts at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 19, in Stark Lecture Hall of the Gerdin Business Building. It is free and open to the public. In addition to his lecture, Churchill will visit several classes Feb. 17-19 as an Executive in Residence for the College of Business.

Several U.S. companies, including Rockwell Collins, have shifted from simply doing business internationally to having a truly global presence, Churchill said. To do that successfully requires an understanding of the people and processes in new growth areas.  

“As we looked forward at Rockwell Collins we saw growth coming from the Middle East, Asia, Brazil and Russia, and we didn’t have people positioned there,” Churchill said. “We found everywhere we went that the customer was always more comfortable if they were dealing with somebody who understood their cultures, understood their nuances and understood the language.”

To better serve customers, Churchill helped Rockwell Collins establish a presence in these countries with employees who knew the culture and business environment. Churchill used the Middle East as an example of where cultural differences impact business. Companies must understand there are days of the week – different from the U.S. – when you don’t do business because they are religious observances.

More and more companies are making this transition, but some businesses still do not see the need to change, Churchill said. Even if companies do not serve an international market, their supply base or competitors likely have a global presence. 

“Whether you’re a mom-and-pop selling on the streets of Cedar Rapids or Ames, Iowa, you probably think you don’t have to worry about it, but the fact of the matter is you do. It may not be in the weekly course of business, but over the long haul the international markets will start to affect you,” Churchill said.

Churchill is a 1980 graduate of ISU’s College of Business, with a degree in industrial administration. He worked for 33 years at Rockwell Collins. He now serves on the board of Ducommun Inc. and UnityPoint Hospitals.