Robert M. Smelick


Areas of Expertise

Leadership and Innovation, Corporate Restructurings, Financing of Early Stage Companies

Education: B.A., Stanford University; MBA, Harvard University

Robert Smelick was an investment banker for 30 years; managing principal of his own firm, Sterling Payot Company; managing director of First Boston and head of its West Coast Investment Banking Group; and partner at Kidder Peabody Inc. He is currently the managing partner of Headland Ventures, a family venture capital firm. During his banking career, he served on the boards of a number of private and public companies and has been vice chair of the Board of the San Francisco Ballet, chair of the Board of Town School San Francisco and member of the Board of the Hamlin School and the Sun Valley Symphony.

For 10 years, he has been on a journey to document the characteristics of leadership that result in successful and innovative growth companies. Having worked during his career with many leaders and having served on a number of their boards, Smelick's personal relationships have allowed him to conduct candid, unscripted video interviews with over 100 executives of important growth companies. Over 300 hours of interviews have been edited into 10 video packages that are used as background for class discussions of leadership issues. Companies featured during Smelick's course include Genentech, Nordstrom, Pacific Telesis/AirTouch, Willamette Industries, Wired Ventures and Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream Also included in the course are leaders from Amazon, King Broadcasting, the Wine Group and Incident Commander of the U.S. Forest Service.

Smelick has also been a visiting lecturer at the business schools of the University of Washington, Duke University, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, Harvard University and the University of San Francisco.