Rick Dutkiewicz earned his BBA in accounting from Loyola in 1977 and has more than 25 years of experience in finance and accounting. Immediately after graduation, he spent several years working in public accounting, mostly with KPMG. He has been the Chief Financial Officer at Vari-L Company, Inc and Coleman Natural Products, Inc. Currently he is the CFO of Einstein Noah Restaurant Group, which operates, licenses or franchises over 650 restaurants in 34 states, predominantly under the Einstein Bros. Bagels and Noah’s New York Bagels brands. In 2008, he was named CFO of the Year by the Denver Business Journal. Rick lives in Evergreen, Colorado with his wife and sons.
What’s the most enduring lesson you learned at Loyola?
You are born with a moral compass, but my family and Jesuit education at Loyola enforced that. My instructors were invested in us and taught us to question that which we did not understand.
If you could go back to school, what Loyola course would you take? Why?
Psychology. Business is all about dealing with people and diverse personality types. Psychology should be a core course.
What is your favorite place in Chicago?
The lakefront. I also enjoy the neighborhood and shops around the Water Tower campus–Rush Street is such a vibrant area.
Why did you decide to become a beancounter [Rick's term, not ours]?
Well, let’s just say I took accounting instead of physics in high school. As luck would have it I had a passion around accounting. It is the scorecard for the success or failure of a business.
What is the most interesting part of your job?
Identifying opportunities to improve the profitability and cash flow of the business. It is also about sharing your knowledge and experience with bright young minds. Our goal in life is to lead and coach.
So, how do you motivate the next generation of leaders?
I try to get them to challenge conventional thinking. Often, if they can do that, they come up with good solutions to problems.
What is the greatest piece of advice you’ve ever received?
That being liked is not the key to success in business. Being respected is the key. Not everyone will like us, but it is important that they respect us.
What book are you reading right now? Would you recommend it to others?
Just finished When Genius Failed: The Rise and Fall of Long-Term Capital Management by Roger Lowenstein. It clarifies the recent failures on Wall Street. I am just starting Leading at a Higher Level.
What (or who) inspires you?
My family. My wife is my soulmate. My boys are my angst and joy at different moments, and I love my brother and sister deeply.
If you could travel to any time and place in history, where would you opt to go?
Kitty Hawk, NC, on the day the Wright Brothers flew. That changed the world.
Do you have any aspiration to learn how to fly?
I’ve always wanted to but haven’t gotten around to it… yet.
If someone made a movie of your life would it be a drama, a comedy, a romantic-comedy, action film, or science fiction?
I love the movie Rudy. It’s the story of a young man from Joliet who went to Joliet Catholic and never gave up on his dreams and ignored the naysayers. In many ways my life is the same. Never give up.
Describe your perfect day.
18 holes of golf with my buddies. You forget about the challenges in life and “play it where it lies.” Sometimes you like it. Sometimes you don’t. It’s just like life in the business world.
Describe yourself in three words. I am…
A persistent bugger
What’s your guilty pleasure?
I love great food. I enjoy going to great restaurants and having the chef’s specialty. Italian, steak, German, Thai, seafood–it doesn’t matter.
What’s the best meal you had recently?
I just had a great meal at Osteria del Circo at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. In Chicago, Richard Melman [of Lettuce Entertain You] has some excellent places. In New York, the spot is Union Square Café [an award-winning restaurant by Danny Meyer].
Which one best describes you in college: athlete, intellectual, artist, young professional, activist, or social butterfly?
Part athlete, part social butterfly and part young professional. I played club hockey at Loyola, was a member of Sigma Pi, and focused on business junior and senior year.