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WSB’s Mark Eppli Interviews President George W. Bush at Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago Conference

By Clare Becker

August 27, 2019

Mark Eppli and President George W. Bush
WSB’s Mark Eppli interviewed President George W. Bush at the 2019 Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago Annual Management Conference. Photo by Ed Gordon, Edge Graphics

Mark Eppli, director of the James A. Graaskamp Center for Real Estate at the Wisconsin School of Business, interviewed George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States and founder of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, at the 2019 Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago (FHLBank Chicago) Annual Management Conference.

Eppli interviewed Bush before an audience of approximately 500 industry professionals. Eppli has been an independent FHLBank Chicago board member for seven years where he serves on the organization’s Risk and Affordable Housing Program Committees.

The conference’s theme, “Decisions for Today, Direction for Tomorrow,” centered on making decisions in the face of uncertainty, a focus that aligns with the former president’s recent book, Decision Points. As the 43rd president of the United States, Bush served two terms from 2001 to 2009. His presidency spanned several watershed events for the country, including the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the Great Recession.

Eppli says that Bush spoke thoughtfully and candidly on his decision-making process, often bringing in examples from his presidency and frequently using his trademark sense of humor to illustrate his points to the audience.

“It was truly a special opportunity to personally interview President George W. Bush,” says Eppli. “One of the many aspects of his talk that was particularly insightful for the audience was how, as president, he often had to make critical decisions quickly, under extreme pressure, and with the best information available at the time. Business leaders similarly are required to make organizational decisions with incomplete information and in the midst of uncertainty.”

The annual FHLBank Chicago conference invites exceptional individuals to speak on topics relevant to leadership, vision, and navigating change. Past speakers have included former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former CIA Director John Brennan, and former Florida governor and presidential candidate Jeb Bush.