Bellevue MBA Part of Kahn’s CEO Toolbox
By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager
Avi Kahn believes that with the right tools, you can build a better future. That’s part of the mission statement at Hilti North America, a multinational company that develops, manufactures, and markets products for the construction industry.
Kahn cites a Bellevue University Master of Business Administration (MBA), which he earned in 2009, as one of the tools that helped him rise from an Account Manager position with Hilti in 2006 to President and CEO of the company in January 2017.
“While I was an Account Manager, I identified the need to broaden my skill sets and get immersed in big business issues. My leaders and mentors at the time saw that getting an MBA showed a level of commitment to become a better manager; and at the same time, Hilti supported me with our education reimbursement program which is even more robust today,” Kahn said. “Getting an MBA isn’t an end. My Bellevue MBA was a great foundation for the continuous learning and executive education programs I’ve taken since then.”
During his MBA program, Kahn absorbed the knowledge from his professors, as well as his fellow students.
“I loved the group work – working with students from across the country and around the world who had different points of view and ways to look at things,” he said. “I also enjoyed the virtual discussions.”
During his days as an Account Manager, Kahn did aspire to a management position and was encouraged by mentors within the organization.
“Everyone who wants be in leadership has a vision to work toward. I was no different,” he said. “When I started as an Account Manager in San Francisco, driving a Hilti car, visiting customers and demonstrating products, I looked up to my managers and mentors who encouraged me to challenge myself and further my education. As I moved up through the organization in continuously more challenging roles, becoming General Manager of our Canadian organization for six years was a fantastic opportunity to learn what it takes to be President and CEO for Hilti North America.”
Listening to his employees, the way his mentors and managers listened to him, has been a key component in Kahn’s success.
“I get a lot of satisfaction from working with Hilti team members across North America, listening to their ideas and acting on them when possible,” he said. “For instance, based on employee input, we recently launched several new employee benefits including flexible working arrangements, sabbatical leave and increased education reimbursement.”
Kahn knows firsthand the difficulties that come with juggling work, family, and other obligations, while pursuing a degree. He also knows the benefits.
“It’s worth the effort to manage a full-time career and family while seeking further education. It helps to work for a company, like Hilti, that appreciates and supports personal development with tuition reimbursement, flexible time to attend classes and workshops, and mentoring support.”