R.I. CEO Council to reconvene after 5-year hiatus

WARWICK – After a five-year absence, the Rhode Island CEO Council is returning with a focus on reestablishing opportunities lost during the pandemic.

The newly-reconvened group will kick off its next iteration with a summit held at the Crowne Plaza in Warwick on March 25 that will feature remarks from Gov. Daniel J. McKee, Deloitte deputy CEO Alicia Rose and Bryant University President Ross Gittell.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic limiting in-person events, CEOs have had a harder time forging connections with each other, said Robert Fiske, founder and CEO of the R.I. CEO Council.

When bringing CEOs together for conversations in the past, “there were some incredible conversations,” Fiske said. “People came up with ideas and shared their thinking with each other.”

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Having an in-person network composed entirely of peers allows business leaders to have conversations that wouldn’t be possible elsewhere, Fiske added, citing an example from the group’s previous years where a member expressed that he wasn’t confident in his CEO role.

“If anyone other than a group of CEOs in confidence heard that, he would have been let go the next day, or the shareholders would have forced a resignation,” Fiske said. “But instead, the CEOs … were able to help him come up with a strategy and build his confidence back up.”

The organization also plans to hold events bringing in speakers from around the country to work with CEOs.

Fiske previously worked as founder and CEO of other executive leadership-focused groups on the West Coast, and in market development and financial management software support.

Originally launched in September 2006 as the Chief Executives Club of Rhode Island, the group started with 78 CEOs and met about eight or nine times per year, sometimes bringing in guest speakers from around the country.

In 2012, the group’s operations moved to Rhode Island College, running for four more years before coming to a close in December 2016, following the departure of RIC’s then-president Nancy Carriuolo.

During that time, Fiske had also left Rhode Island. Upon returning to the state, Fiske and other former members of the R.I. CEO Council felt the time was right to relaunch the group.

Over 100 CEOs have signed up to attend the inaugural event, according to Fiske.

Membership in the R.I. CEO Council is open to any Rhode Island business leader who holds the top leadership position in an organization with at least 10 employees. This could include an individual who leads the state’s workforce for an organization that is part of a larger company.

The council has various events planned throughout the next year, including a June event focused on cybersecurity and compliance. Event itineraries will include events such as guest speakers, small group discussions and an annual CEO retreat.

Jacquelyn Voghel is a PBN staff writer. Contact her at Voghel@PBN.com.

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