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Five Tips for Leaders from Steve Fechheimer, CEO of New Belgium Brewing

New Belgium Brewing CEO, Steve Fechheimer, speaks to current Poole College students on the importance of being a well-rounded business professional by taking a variety of fundamental courses.

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The latest installment of the Wells Fargo Executive Leadership Series was held virtually for the first time featuring Steve Fechheimer, CEO of New Belgium Brewing. The discussion was led by Frank Buckless, Stephen P. Zelnak Jr. Dean of Poole College of Management. 

With a background in spirits and global business development, Fechheimer brings a fresh perspective to the craft beer world and to New Belgium that is complemented by his personal passion for beer, sustainability initiatives and the business model that drives the company. His values are rooted in treating shareholders, coworkers and the environment with equal respect. He looks forward to a long career in beer and to leading New Belgium to not only meet but to exceed business goals for years to come.

Fechheimer is a graduate of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Science in economics and also received an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Key Insights

1. Understand the fundamentals of business.

Fechheimer finds that professionals who possess technical skills from different aspects of business tend to be more well-rounded candidates. Students can achieve this by straying from their main discipline and taking classes outside of their comfort zone to develop their portfolio. 

2. As a leader, listen to your people. 

“There’s who you think you are as a leader, then there’s who you actually are and there’s how your team and organization think of you as a leader,” said Fechheimer. 

Based on his career experiences over time, Fechheimer believes that finding alignment in management styles between leaders and employees transpires through open communication.

3. Look for critical leadership qualities.

The most important leadership qualities, according to Fechheimer, are honesty and transparency. “You want to build believers when you are making changes to a business so that you will get the intended outcome,” said Fechheimer.

Other qualities include being inquisitive when it comes to aspects of business you aren’t as familiar with, having a diverse professional background and being willing to make a decision between two logical options. 

4. It’s not going to be easier to be a leader.

The pace of being a leader is only becoming faster and the issues are more complex, said Fechheimer. Leaders can offset this by hiring diverse teams that bring different perspectives and skills to the table. 

Another piece of advice Fechheimer has for future leaders is to make decisions for the long-term to avoid getting caught up in the day-to-day decisions and focus on the changes made to the business over time. 

5. Make sustainability a priority.

“More companies are thinking about sustainability because young professionals are looking for organizations that are a force for good,” said Fechheimer.

With a personal passion for sustainability he adopted from his parents, Fechheimer was attracted to New Belgium Brewing because of their long-term sustainability goals. Their Fat Tire Amber Ale is the first nationally distributed certified carbon-neutral beer and the brewery has now set a goal to become completely carbon-neutral by 2030.