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Principal Leadership Development Rotation Program participants at the company’s town hall meeting (left to right): Luke Frieberg, Megan Gruhn and Andy Drish. Not pictured: Craig Kearney.

Drake grads win majority of positions in new leadership development program

Recent CBPA graduates were selected for four out of five positions in the new Leadership Development Rotation Program started by Principal Financial Group.

More than 200 students applied for the program, which Principal established to appeal to high-potential college graduates. The program is designed to create a pipeline for producing the next generation of leaders at Principal, one of the nation’s largest insurance companies.

Those selected for this first year of the program were chosen on the basis of academic achievement, talent and future leadership potential, according to Nicole Scheidel, manager of the program.

“We wanted to see formal or informal leadership experience,” she said, “as participants will be going through a structured process to provide them with broad organizational experiences in their first few years of employment at Principal. We also looked for strong analytical and communication skills.”

Participants in this elite program will spend two to three years in six- to 12-month rotational assignments. Rotation paths will vary by participant, based on their background, skills and preferences. Once the participants successfully complete the program, Principal will work with them to determine their best fit and launch them into their new careers.

The recent Drake graduates selected for the program are:

  • Andy Drish of Richland, Iowa
  • Adam Emmenecker of Saginaw, Mich.
  • Luke Frieberg of Cumming, Iowa
  • Craig Kearney of Olathe, Kan.

Emmenecker, who was point guard on the Drake’s men’s basketball team that advanced to the NCAA Tournament this past season, will not be participating in the Principal program this year. He decided to focus on basketball and plans to play in Europe.

His three classmates, however, said they are looking forward to getting started in the program, which begins June 16.

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Andy Drish

“This program is phenomenal,” said Drish, a marketing major with a psychology minor who studied abroad in New Zealand. “I’ve yet to see a program that gives recent graduates this much opportunity for personal development.

“We’ll be working alongside extremely successful people who are twice our age and have 10 times our experience. They will be teaching us the business and mentoring us along the way.”

Drish graduated in December 2007, then spent two months backpacking and couchsurfing through Europe. “Couchsurfing,” he said, “is a social network that allows you to meet people online and then stay in their homes. It sounds creepy and it sort of is. But I had a blast with the people I met. It was the trip of a lifetime.”

With any new program, there’s bound to be some uncertainty and nervousness on the part of participants.

“It’s a bit nerve-racking being the guinea pigs,” Drish said. “This is the first year Principal has tried something like this. The company has invested a lot of time, money and people in this program and they are expecting to see some big things from us. With the class they have recruited, I have no doubt they will.”

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Luke Frieberg

Frieberg, who majored in finance and management, came to Drake as a recruited walk-on for the men’s soccer team and earned a full scholarship his junior and senior years. He was a four-year starter and served as team captain.

He was selected first team All Missouri Valley Conference and second team Academic All-American. He also served as president of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee and was a member of the Drake Board of Trustees Athletic Affairs Committee. In addition, he created Bulldog Buddies, a program that involved Drake athletes collaborating with Big Brothers/Big Sisters.

Frieberg graduated from Drake on Sunday, May 18, and began his orientation at Principal the next day. “It was quite a turnaround,” he said. 

“I’m really excited about the chance to rotate through the divisions of a Fortune 500 company and experience the breadth this opportunity will allow,” he added. “It will be great to share the experience with my fellow Drake classmates. I feel very blessed to have this opportunity and can’t wait to begin.”

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Craig Kearney

Kearney, who majored in finance and marketing, already has experience with Principal. He was a full-time intern last summer, working in investment management at Principal Global Investors.

At Drake, he founded CACE, a student group that helps individuals develop professional speaking and business presentation skills. He also studied abroad in New Zealand, where he worked as an intern in the New Zealand Parliament. His work experience also includes being a waiter, corn detasseler, grocery bagger and bank teller.

He’s eager to return to Principal as one of the first participants in the Leadership Development Rotation Program.

“I am really excited about the program and the chance to work with fellow Drake graduates,” he said. “This is an exciting program and we are all really pleased to have the opportunity to be a part of it.”