Toby Gannett may not work for a Fortune 500 powerhouse, but the Colorado Springs businessman will soon be working side by side with leaders from some of the world's largest companies.
Gannett, owner of local consulting company BCR Management and a member of multiple Colorado Springs leadership organizations, is the first Colorado resident ever selected for the Aspen Institute's First Movers Fellowship, which was launched in 2009. He will join 16 other fellows from some of the biggest corporate names in the United States, including Google, Facebook, Chipotle Mexican Grill and JPMorgan Chase & Co.
"I was both exhilarated and really humbled just by looking at the other names on the list and what they've accomplished," Gannett said Tuesday.
During the 12-week program, the fellows will attend three seminars on maximizing innovation and complete a project that will help their business and community, according to a news release from the Aspen Institute, a policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C. Since the program started, 89 fellows from 73 companies headquartered in 17 countries have completed the fellowship, according to the institute's website.
"More than anything I'm looking forward to expanding my knowledge on how business and society can work together for the betterment of all people," said Gannett, whose consulting firm offers leadership development, management training and strategic planning services.
Gannett also hopes to bring techniques and innovation from some of the world's largest companies back to Colorado Springs, where he serves on the boards of Silver Key Senior Services, the Pikes Peak Community College Foundation, the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance, the Innovations in Aging Collaborative, Kirkpatrick Bank and the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region.
Joe Raso, president and CEO of the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance, has worked with Gannett on various business alliance boards and committees over the past two years. Gannett's work in a variety of sectors and his ability to work on short- and long-term goals makes him a valuable team member, Raso said.
"He's inquisitive, committed to his community and to business development, both in terms of his resources and his time," Raso said. "When it comes to the key aspects of the development of a community and region, Toby has been pretty focused on all the major components."
Through the fellowship, Gannett wants to learn how to develop a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in the Springs, he said. Gannett's project will focus on using public-private partnerships in large land acquisitions to build on existing assets, he said.
Gannett moved to Colorado Springs from Massachusetts in 1991 to attend Colorado College and stayed because he found the community "incredibly warm and welcoming." Although the inviting culture is good for business, he hopes to learn more about thinking strategically and planning for the long term, something with which the Colorado Springs business community struggles, he said.
"We're not always thinking far enough in the future about how the decisions we make today could affect the community in the years to come," Gannett said. "I want to learn more about how to think strategically."
When not working or attending meetings, he is pursuing graduate studies in business at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and keeping track of his three boys.
"I'm not really good at balancing everything," he said, laughing. "I have a lot on my plate, but I think life is here to be lived. Let's go for it."