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ASU Leadership Institute alum redefines company's innovation


Eric Cylwik, director of innovation for Sundt Construction and a Class 2 participant of the ASU Leadership Institute.

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April 06, 2022

Each year, the ASU Alumni Association accepts a cohort of up-and-coming and current leaders for a professional and personal leadership development program.

This nine-month leadership program gives members the chance to grow their leadership skills through a personalized curriculum, see Arizona State University’s impact firsthand through exclusive tours, build connections in a cohort of alumni leaders from diverse professions and communities, and discover ASU opportunities that align with the values and goals of their communities.

In 2019, Eric Cylwik was a senior virtual construction engineer at Sundt Construction when he went through Class 2 of the ASU Leadership Institute. In 2022, Sundt launched a companywide innovation program and selected Cylwik to lead it as the new director of innovation.

“I’m leading a charge to redefine what innovation is in our culture, how it aligns us to the marketplace and helps create opportunities for our communities around us to thrive,” Cylwik said. “The ASU Leadership Institute impacted my development and equipped me for the new role. This is a great example of the Leadership Institute in action and how it enables leaders like myself to succeed.”

Cylwik learned about the ASU Leadership Institute from a Class 1 participant who boasted about each of their monthly Innovation Day experiences. After applying and being accepted into the program, Cylwik understood why the previous participant spoke so highly of the program.

“My visits to different ASU campuses, schools and facilities crystalized what an institution can look like when the culture is rallied around a just cause, common goal and driving purpose,” Cylwik said. “ASU’s charter sets the tone and direction for everyone. Whether we talked to the dean at the Polytechnic, Downtown or West campus, they were all so closely aligned with the charter and adapted it to their market. One dean took the vision and aligned his campus through data analytics, while another focused on building a community of leaders. Both deans replicated the charter and are living out the purpose, but with different means and methods.”

Cylwik’s experience reflects the ASU Leadership Institute’s goal to bring leaders from diverse backgrounds and stages of their careers to help them grow as individuals and apply the knowledge from ASU to their position and company.  

According to Cylwik, “reflecting on ASU’s institutional success helped me identify, plan and engage leaders to replicate that level of success within our walls.”

In Cylwik’s new role, he has developed a charter for Sundt — to make technology a strategic advantage for the organization. After seeing how closely aligned a large organization like ASU is with a common goal and charter, he also wanted to create cultural alignment within Sundt to help the company grow and move in a united direction.

After completing the ASU Leadership Institute, Cylwik compiled information about the company, culture and how innovation could benefit the group. The company leaders saw value in his information and the idea of aligning all employees from the top to the bottom. While Cylwik has gone through other leadership development programs, his experience in the ASU Leadership Institute provided him visibility into how ASU operates as a successful large-scale enterprise and how other organizations and nonprofits operate through group discussions he had with his cohort of leaders from diverse backgrounds.

“Each of the program participants were there to learn and grow,” Cylwik said. “And it was a safe space to talk through how each of our organizations approached different topics that were discussed during our Innovation Days.”

With the addition of Sundt’s innovation program, Cylwik’s mission is to help Sundt build better, every day, and to connect innovation to the overall business strategy. He has a strong vision to build on Sundt’s existing innovative culture, accelerate the pace of creative problem-solving and effectively share ideas across the company.

The ASU Alumni Association is accepting applications through May 1 for Class 5 of the ASU Leadership Institute. To view the criteria, application process, program fee and more information about the program, visit alumni.asu.edu/engage/leadership-institute.

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