SBE alumnus Doug Deardorf ’78 is the newest member of SBE’s Executive Advisory Board (EAB). He has had a career that in many ways exemplifies the globalization of the American economy.
A graduate of Issaquah (Washington) High School, Deardorf entered SPU intending to follow a pre-med track, but opted to pursue business and psychology when the administration accepted a proposal he had submitted for a dual degree. He was interested in both areas and says he is grateful the proposal was approved, as it provided an interesting coursework platform taught by talented and dedicated professors.
Deardorf developed a passion for international business while working in the international operation for a visual display technology firm that produced stadium scoreboards and flight information display systems. After a few years, he felt a calling to earn an MBA from the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale, Arizona.
“After graduation from Tbird, I wanted to return to the Pacific Northwest,” he explains. “But nothing materialized. I was offered an international sales position, which called upon Spanish language skills I had acquired as I travelled throughout Latin America building and supporting a dealer network for truck-mounted industrial equipment. During a trip in Central America, I received a telex from a relatively new company in Spokane, that was interested in expanding internationally. I was delighted to move back to Spokane, where I helped Itron begin international efforts, which resulted in early success in the Australian market. They’re now a large smart-meter/smart-grid technology company.”
A new opportunity with a former colleague led Deardorf to Dallas/Ft. Worth for what was expected to be a five-year assignment. Through mergers and acquisitions, it ended up being international roles with several tech firms over a 22-year period. One of them was as VP of sales for NiSoft, a UK-based software company specializing in process safety solutions for continuous process manufacturing facilities, including power stations and refineries. It seemed a perfect fit. Then came the events of 9/11, which curtailed NiSoft’s expansion plans. Doug’s sales management position was eliminated.
However, much like Victor Kiam in the famous Remington razor television commercials, Deardorf liked the company so much that in 2008 he bought it and became NiSoft’s CEO. He works out of NiSoft’s Denver office but has maintained its home office in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and travels frequently to that office and another in Singapore.
“I continue to be honored and thrilled to be a part of the leadership team at NiSoft,” he says. “Our company provides sophisticated, tailored solutions critical to our customers’ safety operations. It’s an important work that we do, and we are proud to serve industry in 27 countries.”
Considering the course his life has taken, with interesting roles in several multinational companies, Deardorf says, “It is clear God was in my career planning a lot more than I was. Each step along the way has contributed to what I am doing now. I’m blessed with wonderful opportunities and am surrounded by terrific people.”
Deardorf has kept close to SPU, participating in crew alumni events and serving on the Alumni Board. His stepson, Chester, is a 2012 graduate. And Deardorf says he joined the Executive Advisory Board because “I believe in and highly respect SPU. It is important to me to maintain association with the school and participate where I can. I enjoy giving back to the University.”
In his board role, Deardorf will help add a global perspective to curriculum, programs, and students. He will also help SBE connect with alumni in the Denver area.