For our latest installment of “Why I Love Columbus,” we speak with Skip Prichard, OCLC President and CEO.
Before moving to Columbus, I knew little about the city. It was one I drove around, flew through and passed over. The few people I knew from Columbus talked about football and friendliness. The Buckeye passion was something I was ready for, but I wasn’t sure what else to expect. What did friendliness mean in practice?
After arriving, I found out quickly—because Columbus embodies a kind of “friendliness with purpose” that I haven’t experienced anywhere else. It’s an emphasis on being more than simply pleasant or sociable or kind. Instead, it’s putting effort into things that help everyone in the city reach their potential. I think of it in terms of reaching out, reaching across and reaching forward.
Reaching out: Central Ohio is one of the most giving communities I’ve encountered. When I joined OCLC, the world’s largest library cooperative, as its new President & CEO, I was overwhelmed with the passion our staff exemplified in giving back. From the United Way to the Mid-Ohio Foodbank to numerous other charities, the employees want to reach out to help others. It’s a pleasure to lead an organization that wants to give to others, but it’s also a quality I see across the community. As someone who writes a blog on success and leadership, I am always looking to share examples that inspire. Those stories abound in Columbus.
Reaching across: Whether you’re in the business, nonprofit or academic sectors is irrelevant. I’ve found that people will reach across industries and other barriers to lend a helping hand. Columbus is helpful to entrepreneurs and businesses looking to grow—and to larger businesses that provide great opportunities for partnerships, experience and leadership. We have a 360-degree, holistic view of how our businesses—from a sole proprietorship to a Fortune 500 company—can work together for our mutual benefit. Resources like the Columbus Chamber of Commerce, Columbus 2020, the Women’s Small Business Accelerator, the CCAD Mind Market, the Idea Foundry, the OSU Tech Commercialization Office and many others help create opportunities across industries and experience levels.
Reaching forward: Columbus is a forward-thinking city with aspirations to lead not only in this year, but in the decades to come. Columbus supports education, research and development, whether by supporting library funding or through research at Battelle or Chemical Abstracts. The resources of OSU and more than 50 other colleges and universities with more than 130,000 students attending at any time infuse an energy that propels the entire area forward. In some places I’ve lived, there is tension between the “future forward” elements in a city and the more traditional businesses and institutions. I haven’t found that here. We understand that our success depends on both.
After three years in Columbus, I can say with conviction that we’re not just a friendly city—we’re a city that puts that attribute into practice. It’s Midwest hospitality combined with a bias for action. You can get a friendly wave or a handshake in almost any city. But in Columbus, we also use our hands and hearts to actively help each other succeed. And that’s a great feeling.
Skip Prichard is the fifth president of OCLC since its founding in 1967. Attracted to OCLC’s public purpose, he joined OCLC in 2013 after leading several multi-national organizations that provide a variety of services and content to libraries around the world. Before joining OCLC, Skip was President and CEO of Ingram Content Group Inc., a leading global content and services provider. Among Skip’s many passions is his Leadership Insights blog where he interviews authors and thought leaders, and shares his views on a number of topics. His views on the future of books, publishing, and libraries have been featured in various national and international media. He is a frequent keynote speaker at conferences around the world.