R.I. business community toasts PBN’s 2017 BEA winners

BRYANT UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT Ronald K. Machtley gave the keynote speech at the 2017 Business Excellence Awards dinner. He emphasized how worthy all this year's winners were for their accomplishments. / PBN PHOTO/MIKE SKORSKI
BRYANT UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT Ronald K. Machtley gave the keynote speech at the 2017 Business Excellence Awards dinner. He emphasized how worthy all this year's winners were for their accomplishments. / PBN PHOTO/MIKE SKORSKI

PROVIDENCE – Providence Business News and the Rhode Island business community took time out Wednesday evening to celebrate the people and companies chosen to receive 2017 Business Excellence Awards recognition.

The annual event, held at the Omni Hotel Providence, singled out Kurt Noyce, president of Embrace Home Loans, for Business Leadership and Care New England CEO Dennis D. Keefe for Corporate Citizenship. Also recognized were nine Rhode Island for-profit or nonprofit enterprises as well as John D. Jarrell, who received the award for entrepreneurship.

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In accepting the evening’s top individual award, Noyce emphasized the team-oriented atmosphere at Embrace, one which allows him to set aggressive goals and then achieve them.

Noyce said that when CEO Dennis Hardiman promoted him to the company presidency 18 years ago, “his charge was not to build a company but to build a community.”

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That approach has resulted in the Noyce-led Embrace winning Best Place To Work honors from PBN for all 12 years the program has been in place, and explains in large measure this line from his speech to the 250 attendees of the dinner: “If it’s good for people, it’s good for business.”

Keefe echoed Noyce in giving credit to Care New England staff and executives, but pointed back to his own upbringing as the wellspring of his impulse to give back to the community. Yes, he has embraced the concept of community health, but it goes beyond what are often his official duties as head of the state’s second-largest hospital chain to chairing local events for the American Heart Association and the March of Dimes, as well as the Boy Scouts of America.

Prior to the awards ceremony, Bryant University President Ronald K. Machtley spoke. He opened his remarks by congratulating all the award recipients, especially those who felt undeserving of the honors they were taking home.

The core of his speech was an admonition to the audience to recognize that society is now in its fourth Industrial Revolution. The first Rhode Island is familiar with, since it was started in the United States at Slater Mill, with machines starting to take the place of and augment the efforts of people. The next one occurred in between the late 1800s and early 1900s, when electricity pushed the power of machines into more and more pieces of the economy and transportation evolved from horse and buggy to trains and automobiles. The third began in the 1960s as computers came on the scene and sped up innovation and adaptation of new technology.

And the most recent revolution, which Machtley said was already upon us, involves the massive increase of data and access to it, and the power that ubiquitous communications tools put into everyone’s hands. With artificial intelligence and robotics, a major question is how will society deal with job displacement in an orderly and equitable fashion?

His focus on what is coming is the result of his job, he said. In order to offer an education that has value beyond the classroom, Machtley said he must try and see what his students of today will face over the next 40 years, during their careers. And based on his observations, he had two final thoughts: We must re-engineer how we think as we adapt to this new data-drenched reality; and we must remember that character still matters.

The rest of the evening included video interviews and award presentations with all the other BEA winners:

  • Excellence at an Enterprise Company: Lifespan
  • Excellence at a Large Company: The Original Bradford Soap Works Inc.
  • Excellence at a Mid-Size Company: Coastway Community Bank
  • Excellence at a Small Company: Fish Advertising
  • Community Involvement: Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island
  • Excellence at a Social Service Agency: St. Mary’s Home for Children
  • Excellence at a Nonprofit: Year Up Providence
  • Excellence in Education and Learning: The Academy for Career Exploration
  • Entrepreneurship: John D. Jarrell
  • Excellence in Diversity: Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island


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