Forever Humboldt

Michael Crooke

'86 '89 Forestry, MBA, Business Administration

Michael Crooke's journey through corporate boardrooms is guided by values rooted firmly in the Earth.

Growing up in Oregon, he says he was always at home in the wilderness. "I was an outdoors person, always hunting, fishing, camping and hiking."

Little wonder that he was drawn to Humboldt State's Forestry program, graduating in 1986.

"I wanted to work outdoors," he says, and so he did - for a while. His career as a forester for the Pacific Lumber Co. ended during that company's acquisition by Maxxam Corp., a corporate maneuver he found unsettling - and interesting enough to draw him indoors.

"It rattled my cage," Crooke says. "I really wanted to understand the business side."

After earning an MBA from Humboldt State in 1989, he entered the corporate world, working for local outdoor equipment manufacturers Yakima and Moonstone, and later becoming CEO of Pearl Izumi, Revolution Living, Patagonia and prAna.

Crooke has since earned a Ph.D. in management and is now a business consultant specializing in corporate turnarounds. But his environmental activism continues to inform his corporate work.

"I found that I could incorporate my personal values into business," he says. His work is guided by what he calls "a mandala approach" of four equal principles: corporate citizenship, environmental responsibility, product/service quality and strong finances.

"When you have those four corporate macro values in place, 'flow' often occurs," he says, defining "flow" as "a rare state of consciousness that focuses the energies of those who experience it and helps lift them to peak achievement levels."

Crooke remains a board member of the Earth Day Network and has served as President of the Conservation Alliance. He remains an HSU supporter and delivered a rousing keynote address at the 2008 Commencement.