Charles E. "Ed" Haldeman '70, chair of Dartmouth's Board of Trustees, received one of his fraternity's highest honors this month, joining the ranks of five other Dartmouth alumni who have received Sigma Phi Epsilon's biennial citation for distinguished career achievement.
In a letter informing him that he had been selected for the citation, SigEp President Archer L. Yeatts III wrote, "While your achievements as a business leader and as a Dartmouth Trustee and now chairman of Dartmouth's Board merit this recognition, the Citation Nominating Committee was especially impressed by your lifelong dedication to honesty, hard work, and taking care of clients and colleagues. [We] will benefit from learning how you have rebuilt trust in Putnam Investments, Delaware Investments, and elsewhere by being fair, morally grounded, and concerned about people."
Only 241 of the fraternity's 263,000 alumni have received the citation since it was created in 1966, including U.S. senators; presidential cabinet members; CEOs of major corporations; leaders of military, academic, and religious organizations; and artists, authors, and performing artists.
Haldeman is president and CEO of Putnam Investments. He has also been CEO of Delaware Investments, president of United Asset Management Corporation, and was a partner and director of Cooke & Bieler Inc., an investment management firm. He is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) charter holder, a member of Partners HealthCare Systems Investment Committee, and serves on the Board of Governors of the Investment Company Institute. Haldeman graduated summa cum laude from Dartmouth, earning Phi Beta Kappa honors, and went on to receive his J.D. at Harvard Law School and his M.B.A. at Harvard Business School, where he was a Baker Scholar.
Haldeman took Putnam's helm in 2003 at a troubled time for the company—and for the industry as a whole—but a commitment to transparency and a knack for zeroing in on priorities has helped him restore investor confidence, employee morale, and profitability at one of the largest money management firms in the United States. It's been a good return on investment strategy—and not just for Putnam's bottom line. In recognizing the importance of culture in the creation of an ethical company, Putnam recently won the 2007 Optimas Award for Ethical Practice from Workforce Management magazine.
"Building trust isn't that complicated," says Haldeman. "I try hard to be as visible and interactive as possible with all of our employees and clients. I try to walk around our facilities, eat lunch in our cafeteria, and attend employee events whenever possible. In all communications I try to be direct and transparent even if the news isn't good. Often there is a cost to candor in the short-term, but I hope it builds trust over the long-term."
Haldeman attributes many of the leadership skills he uses to run a firm like Putnam, or preside over a board like Dartmouth's, to his undergraduate education. "Several of my economics professors showed me how to identify the critical success variables that are likely to have an impact on a problem," he says. "Good leaders identify those two or three key issues that will determine an organization's future success. After study and input, they choose a course of action for each of those issues and then communicate the direction to all relevant constituencies." But he is quick to point out that working on problems is just a piece of the larger puzzle. Communicating effectively with the people who have an interest in the outcome is critical. "In English and a public speaking course I learned to communicate logically and crisply," he says. "The communication skills I learned at Dartmouth have been invaluable."
One of the tasks that Haldeman took on almost immediately after becoming Board chair in June 2007 was a review of Trustee governance at the College. Putting his belief in open communications to work, Haldeman is keeping alumni informed about the process every step of the way and actively seeking their input and advice in person and through a special Web site.
Still, he understands there are obstacles to be overcome in building a true give-and-take between the College and its graduates. "In my view there are two things we need to do to improve communication with alumni," he says. "First, the Trustees need to be even more visible and available, and when we meet with alumni we need to spend more time listening and less time talking. Second, the College has to take the risk of being more open in its communications. We need to admit our problems and mistakes and talk about what we are doing to fix them."
Haldeman has served for many years in various Dartmouth volunteer leadership capacities, including as a member of the Dean's Council and the President's Leadership Council, as an Alumni Fund leadership agent, class agent and regional agent, and as a scholarship fund chair. He was elected to the Dartmouth Board in 2004.
"It has been helpful," he says, "that I have served on many other corporate and charitable boards because one needs to know how to act as a fiduciary and steward without getting involved in management. And it's also been helpful to have been involved with the College in many ways before coming on the Board. Knowing a large number of people in the Dartmouth community means that there are many who will freely share their thoughts."
In a letter to alumni after his election as Board chair, Haldeman said that the four years he spent as an undergraduate at Dartmouth "were among the most rewarding of my life and shaped who I am today." He adds, "Being a College Trustee is about recognizing the power of a Dartmouth education. I believe that the number-one criterion for being on the Board is a love of the College and a sense of gratitude for the life-changing experience that each of us had in Hanover."
By LAUREL STAVIS
Dartmouth Alumni Distinguished Career Citations
Basil O'Connor '12
President, March of Dimes
Ellis O. Briggs '21
Theodor S. Geisel '25
David E. Bond '60
Parker W. Borg '61
Charles E. "Ed" Haldeman '70
President and CEO, Putnam Investments
Chair of the Dartmouth Board of Trustees
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Last Updated: 5/30/08