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Ramin Cherafat
Chief Operating Officer, McCownGordon Construction
Centurions Class of 2006

Centurions Leadership Celebrating 40 Years: Ramin Cherafat

In 1976, the KC Chamber launched a new program designed to prepare Kansas City’s leaders of tomorrow. They called it the Centurions Leadership program. Throughout 2017, in honor of the Centurions 40th Anniversary, we’ll be sharing some of the stories of Centurions alumni.
Ramin CherafatWhere were you in your career when you went through the Centurions program?
When I went through the program, I was 32 years old and my career was in the early stages of transitioning more strategic position within my company. Looking back, it seemed like a great time for me to participate in the program, I think it’s important to have some foundation established in your career when participating in Centurions.

Tell us about the strongest connection you made from the program (personal or professional).
The strongest connection I made through the program was the exposure I had to so many other up and coming leaders that were near the same stages in their career as I was.  Even today, 12 years later, I have retained some great friendships and relationships that transcend both the personal and professional spectrum.  Additionally, I gained such a better understanding of how the private sector can collaborate with both the civic and philanthropic community to make a significant positive impact throughout Kansas City.
What would you say about the program to companies that have never participated in Centurions?
I think companies to don’t participate in the program are really missing out on an opportunity to have a significant positive impact on their up and coming leaders. I know for McCownGordon we are committed to having someone in the program continually, year over year I see firsthand the positive impact that it has had on our associates that participate.
How did Centurions make you a better leader?
It provided me exposure to a much wider spectrum of businesses within Kansas City, allowed me to develop a much better understanding of how the business community, civic community and philanthropic community can work together to make a positive impact. It also taught me that anyone can take the initiative to get involved and make things happen.  Kansas City, I believe, is evolving to a community in which the next generation of leadership will be much more diverse moving forward.
What did Centurions teach you about service and giving back to the community?  Tell us about one of your most meaningful service experiences?
Centurions reinforced to me that giving back to the community you live and work in, is truly responsibility of being a good citizen.  It taught me that you have to “lean forward” in making your community better, don’t wait for others to do if for you. 
My most memorable experience of giving back was volunteering at Community LINC, an organization that provided transitional housing for families in need. I spent some time at Community LINC volunteering with the kids during Easter.  Watching how these incredible children were so happy and appreciative of the little things in life really touched me. I went on to serve on the board of Community LINC, chaired their fundraiser and eventually become board chairman.  To this day, that experience has still had an impact of me….that all families and children simply need the opportunity to succeed.  Once given the opportunity anything is possible. My passion today, with respect to my philanthropic interests lies with children and education.  I believe that providing a strong foundation in education and continuing to provide opportunities beyond high school is the single best option to help break the generational issues that some families face.
What advice would you give to current and future Centurions?
Be active, don’t just try and ‘get by’ in the program. You really do get out of it what you put in.  Bet thoughtful and purposeful of how you stay engaged in the community after your Centurions experience. Centurions is somewhat of a ‘foundation’ what happens beyond Centurions is totally up to you….and to be successful you have to have a well thought out plan and stick to it. 
Also, know that Kansas City if full of business and civic leaders that are more than willing to help you out, don’t be shy about reaching out for help and/or advice on how to continue to serve your community.
How has Kansas City changed since you were in Centurions?
I believe that Kansas City has changed in many ways….over the past few decades Kansas City’s civic, business and philanthropic leadership seemed to have really driven by a handful of leaders that stemmed out of some of Kansas City’s great family owned companies…. I’ve seen a transition that has broadened (both in terms of people and companies) this level of civic and business leadership over that past 15 years.  I believe that in the longer term this is a positive impact for Kansas City it simply increases our ‘scale’ to accomplish more.

Kansas City has made some incredible progress and I sincerely believe that our best years still lie ahead of us. The next generation of leadership in the community is well positioned to keep the success moving forward. 
What boards do you currently serve on?
Currently I’m serving on the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce Board, UMKC Alumni Association, Kansas City EDC Finance and Audit Committee, Metropolitan Community College Foundation, Children’s International and Nelson Atkins Business Council Steering Committee. No doubt I’m busy right now, but I operate much better when my schedule is full.  I try to have a plan of where and how I want to spend my civic and philanthropic time well in advance. 
Over the years the involvement that I’ve had in various organizations around Kansas City has taught me so much about people, business and leadership. The exposure to other leaders over the years has really had a positive impact on myself personally and I’ve taken many great ideas and applied them to McCownGordon to help position our company for continued growth. 

Posted: 1/24/2017 10:02:26 AM