FedEx’s Fred Smith on Why We Need Manufacturing
Good interview with the CEO of FedEx, Fred Smith. If you click on the link above, be warned there’s some political discussion (which I know many of you might be sick of at this point). Our election cycle is NOT a Lean process, cycle time-wise, and maybe that’s good… but boy, this election has been going on forever. But I digress.
Smith talks about an issue near and dear to me – attracting top students into operations and manufacturing leadership roles. That’s why the grad school program I attended, MIT’s Leaders for Manufacturing Program, was created 20 years ago. There were some attractive financial incentives to do that program instead of the regular MBA (but that didn’t matter for me, I always wanted to remain a manufacturing/operations guy… but now, I’m working in healthcare operations, go figure).
They wrote about Smith:
“His [Smith’s] theory is that the [U.S.] tax bias against capital explains why so much top U.S. talent got whisked off to become investment bankers. ‘Not too many young people coming out of school are studying to be production managers at General Motors.’ He says that most of FedEx’s first line managers come not from the top flight universities, but out of community colleges and the military. ‘The top talent has wanted to go to Wall Street.’
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He has come to hold the get-rich-quick Wall Street financiers in more than a little disdain. He views the heroes of the U.S. economy as the companies that actually produce real goods and services. He sees the Wall Street collapse as an inevitable byproduct of investment bankers building multitrillion dollar debt pyramid structures.”
Actual real goods and services. Exactly. I’m sure we’d all include healthcare into that category, of real services. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t a top enough talent, or I guess the lure of Wall Street would have been irresistible? Is it really “tax structures” that draw people ot Wall Street or the salary and compensation structures? Being a production manager at GM (or Toyota) isn’t a glamour job to the general public (and I mean no offense, trust me, to those of you who are in those jobs). Wall Street is glamorous and pays well. Maybe that will change?
I assume most of my readers are manufacturing or healthcare operations folks. Did any of you get tempted by Wall Street? How has your view changed now that we’re in a self-made “crisis”, thanks to Wall Street?