Serving as chief information officer for America’s largest health and fitness company, LA Fitness International, George Bedar ’86 strives to put into practice a lesson he has learned throughout the course of his career — the importance of doing what he can for others.
“As we get older, almost all of us are going to ask ourselves the question, ‘What difference have I made?’” Bedar said. “I will submit to you one of the best answers you can give is, ‘I know as a result of my leadership there are other people whose lives are better.’”
Beginning his career in the Marine Corps, Bedar served in a variety of roles during his 20 years of active duty, from supply clerk to A-6E intruder naval flight officer to master instructor of computer science at the U.S. Naval Academy. Through the Marine Corps, he applied for a program that assigned him to pursue a master’s degree in computer science at SFA and started at the university in 1984.
“I realize I wouldn’t have had the opportunities I’ve had if it weren’t for SFA, and the only reason I’m where I am today is because the chair of the department at the time decided to take a chance on me,” Bedar said.
With a bachelor’s degree in mathematics but no background in computer science, Bedar immersed himself in studying — spending nights poring over complex problems.
“As soon as I got an assignment, I was on it,” Bedar said, “and I would stay up all night because I was so intrigued by it and so challenged by solving this problem that I was eating, sleeping and breathing it.”
Bedar was appointed to two technology-related assignments for the Marine Corps, including project officer responsible for software maintenance at the Marine Tactical Systems Support Activity. Deciding to join the private sector, he served as the chief information officer of CKE Restaurants and later worked at Microsoft as a program manager before starting with LA Fitness. In his current role, Bedar uses technology to understand and solve business problems in creative ways.
“We’ve had some difficult challenges we have taken on and solved,” he said. “I think a lot of organizations wouldn’t have taken the challenge.”
Under Bedar’s guidance during his 14-year tenure, LA Fitness has expanded from approximately 120 clubs to more than 700 clubs and has worked to improve the efficiency and accuracy of business processes, enhance member experiences and reduce operating costs through the use of technology.
By emphasizing Microsoft products as a solution, he has helped the company achieve a steady stream of accomplishments. Throughout all the changes LA Fitness has experienced during Bedar’s employment, his focus on others and tenacity for problem-solving has remained constant.
“In business, you can make customers’ lives better as a result of what you’re providing them,” Bedar said. “You can differentiate your business as a result of how you apply technology. You certainly can impact and influence the employees and their experiences, and the productivity and profitability of the company.”
Throughout his career, Bedar has learned many lessons, but he hasn’t forgotten where he started.
“My SFA education provided me with all these opportunities to have amazing experiences for which I’m really grateful,” he said.