Outstanding Directors

Heather Stewart

April 8, 2013

A board of directors is an invaluable institution. A properly created board is filled with senior business executives or community leaders who can provide a wide-ranging perspective gained from years of work in other companies and industries. This year we honor three directors who have left a large imprint on the organizations they serve. These leaders set the standard for ethics, for fiduciary responsibility and for strategic planning—and these values have permeated their organizations.

Jon Huntsman leveraged his personal fortune and his corporate prowess to bring to life a leading-edge cancer care and research facility. Now, as chairman of the Huntsman Cancer Institute, he ensures that his vision is fulfilled and the important work continues.

Jerry Atkin has contributed two decades of service to Zions Bancorporation, providing valuable financial and governance acumen to the local powerhouse. And David Winder, with a breadth of experience as a director for more than 30 organizations during his lengthy career, helped privately held Alsco, Inc. bring its governance practices to the next level.

Utah Business applauds these directors in appreciation for their extensive service to the shareholders, executives, employees and clients of dozens of Utah businesses and nonprofit organizations.

Service to a Public Company

Jerry C. Atkin, Executive Committee Member, Zions Bancorporation

This year marks two decades of service on the Zions Bancorporation board of directors for Jerry C. Atkin, chairman and CEO of SkyWest, Inc. While Atkin has witnessed several changes in the banking industry over that time, the past few years have been particularly difficult for banks. The Great Recession dealt a severe blow to the financial industry, and the ensuing political and regulatory environment made recovery that much harder.

Harris Simmons, chairman, president and CEO of Zions Bancorporation, says Atkin was a tremendously calming influence during the economic freefall. “He’s focused on the objective. Especially the last five years, which has been a tumultuous time in our economy and certainly in our industry, with all kinds of new laws and regulations and requirements…he is calm and he is confident, and he gets to the heart of the matter and understands what’s important and what’s not,” says Simmons. “And he does it in a way that leaves the management team knowing they have a lot of support—but also understanding where you have to improve, sometimes.”

Atkin’s background and experience makes him particularly suited to serve as a director for Zions Bancorporation. He practiced as a certified public accountant before joining SkyWest as director of finance in 1974. Just a short year later, he was appointed president and CEO of the company, and under his guidance SkyWest has grown its annual revenues from less than $1 million to more than $3 billion. He also guided the company through an IPO.

All of this experience prepared him for the role of corporate director for a banking institution, says Atkin. He adds that board service has given him a “broader perspective” on business practices.

Zions Bancorporation encompasses a collection of banks in 10 states with nearly 500 offices and 11,000 employees. While hit hard by the recession, the corporation has returned to profitability and maintained its reputation among consumers. In fact, the Zions Bank brand ranked second in the nation for reputational strength in a 2011 survey by American Banker.

Atkin is currently chair of the nominating and governance committee for Zions, and he is a member of the executive and audit committees. He previously chaired the executive and compensation committees, says Simmons, who adds, “Jerry has been an enormous influence on our company.”

Simmons says that Atkin is a very down-to-earth, approachable person who is able to cut through complexity and get to the core of any problem. “Jerry has this wonderful thing you’ll only get from somebody who’s grown up in Southern Utah—he’s really good at kind of saying when the emperor has no clothes, if you will. He cuts right to the quick of a problem and has a way of simplifying and getting at the root of what needs to be solved.”

Regarding his board service, Atkins says he gains “a sense of satisfaction from helping to make difficult decisions that have an impact on a lot of people.”

Lifetime Achievement

Jon M. Huntsman, Founder and Chairman, Huntsman Cancer Institute

Friends and colleagues describe Jon M. Huntsman as a bold risk taker, and in the early 1990s, he had a very bold idea: the creation of a state-of-the-art cancer treatment and research center in Salt Lake City. His personal commitment and vision—and his ability to inspire others with the same passion—brought the Huntsman Cancer Institute to life.

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