Ken Bayne

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Vice President/CFO

Connor Sports

A solid Tauber foundation has given this financial leader the agility to bring operations and finance together in one slam-dunk career.                     

Q: When you think of your time in Ann Arbor and specifically in the Tauber Program, what stands out as being the most beneficial educational or professional experience you had?

A:  I think the best and most beneficial aspect of the Tauber program was the ability to customize it to match my evolving educational interests. When I first started at Michigan in the MBA, my aim was to concentrate in operations management. As I got more into the core courses, I discovered that I really enjoyed the finance coursework. I was able to shift my elective coursework to concentrate more on finance as it relates to manufacturing enterprises. One professor who still stands out for me is Professor Bill Lovejoy. I had the privilege to take his core operations management course, as well as have him as my summer team project advisor along with Prof. Izak Duenyas. Prof. Lovejoy had this great ability to apply academic concepts in a way that was relevant and worked in "real-world" applications. I also remember his way of gently steering our team's harebrained ideas back to reality -- he was a big part of our team's success.

Q:  Do you believe that your Tauber experience has shaped the professional that you are now?

A:  A critical skill as a senior finance leader is the ability to see the big picture in an organization and not just get fixated on the numbers. Having the Tauber experience, combined with my engineering degree from Michigan (BSAE '91), really helped to build that core understanding of how operations work and interact with other aspects of the firm. That understanding is essential to building a credible rapport with operations personnel. You cannot be successful at this level in a manufacturing firm without a solid understanding of the firm's operations. As I look back on my career progression, one common theme is that the Tauber experience expanded my opportunities relative to just having a MBA or engineering degree - whether they be working on a medical device product development team, financially shepherding a civil engineering firm through the "great recession", or leading the finance team for the world's largest court builder at Connor Sport Court. Financial leaders who are comfortable with the technical/operations and finance/accounting sides of the business bring unique perspectives to the table.

Q:  What is the most challenging aspect of your work at Connor Sport Court? What obstacles have you or your company recently been faced with and how did you overcome them?

A:  One of the bigger challenges facing our company is finding new growth areas. We're meeting this challenge by expanding our sales outside the US significantly (we recently won the award for Utah's Exporter of the Year), and also applying our high performance flooring design experience into "industrial strength" products for mining and oil and gas exploration applications.

Q: What advice would you give to current Tauber students?

A:  Always continue to learn and look for opportunities to diversify your business knowledge.

Q: What has been the most surprising aspect of your career thus far? What stands out as the highlight?

A:  If you asked me when I graduated from the Tauber program in 1996 whether I thought one day I'd be CFO of Connor Sport Court - the manufacturer of iconic sports surfaces such as the Boston Celtics' parquet and the Brooklyn Nets' herringbone floor - that role would not even have been on my radar screen. What's made my career exciting so far is the wide variety of industries and roles I've been able to contribute in. It's certainly a highlight to be able to watch athletes at the highest levels of the sport -- whether it be in the NBA, the NCAA basketball and volleyball championship tournaments, or the Olympics -- and know that I had a small part in bringing those playing surfaces to market. When my wife Kelly and I left Utah in 1994 to head back to Michigan for the Tauber program, we were always holding out hope that our path would lead us back to the mountain west. So here I am 19 years later living in Park City and working for a great company!

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Ken Bayne MBA ’96 U-M Tauber Institute Alum on the Court
Ken Bayne sported maize and blue at the summit of Haleakala peak (10,023') in Maui, Hawaii.