October 3, 2017
More than two dozen members of the Andersen Young Professionals Network (AYPN) had the pleasure of spending time Sept. 28 with Sarah Andersen, a fourth-generation Andersen family member and 35-year member of the Board of Directors.
Sarah shared the life story and philosophy of her great-grandfather Hans, who founded the company in 1903 and who shaped the values that still guide Andersen today, including corporate citizenship. She also shared her own story of how she became involved in the governance of Andersen at age 27.
“In 1981, I asked for a seat on the Andersen board for myself or one of my sisters,” she explained. “It was time for the fourth generation to be represented. I got an answer in late 1982 that yes, one of us could serve on the board. (But) my sisters and I would have to work it out. Was this unfair? A test? A refusal to make a choice? Or all of the above? One sister declined. One sister wanted it a lot. Our family hadn’t developed any tools or criteria to make tough decisions like this.
“Finally, my grandmother told us to flip a coin. In January 1983 I was elected to the board. The torch wasn’t passed to me; I decided to take up the torch and continue the family involvement in Andersen.”
Sarah closed with a life lesson she received from a friend:
- Embrace tough conversations – it’s how you find common ground.
- Take the long view – good outcomes take time.
- Bring good spirit to the table – people who laugh together can work together and surmount huge obstacles.