Graduate Student Program
The company interviewed electrical engineering graduates at the U of I and I was impressed with their flexibility and the on-the-job program to work at various divisions of the company. I had committed to three years in the Air Force through college ROTC, so I could start the program before going in and complete it after returning.
I worked in engineering departments for 5 weeks before entering the Air Force. Upon leaving the Air Force, I tried sales and marketing assignments in the industrial and electric utility areas and then became an inside sales engineer. Work: preparing proposals, liaison with manufacturing operations as well as customers, supporting strategy of sales engineers with customers and general troubleshooting.
Sales Engineer in Chicago
Assignment: Develop a book of business with customers thought to have significant potential but who did little business with the company in the Original Equipment Manufactures sales group. Over 5 years developed several significant customers.
While in this assignment, completed my MBA at the University of Chicago.
The company career path suggested both field sales and manufacturing division marketing experience. The products that I had sold were produced in the Buffalo, NY facility.
Territorial Rep and Market Planning Manager in Buffalo, NY
Started as a Territorial Marketing Representative working with field sales engineers to build business. Focused on making customer special pricing more a function of the ultimate potential business available.
As Market Planning Manager developed a computer based system to track sales and profit contribution by customer along with potential business available. Purchased lists of potential customers and using employment data and line of business as well as trade association data developed customer level market potential by area and industry. As a result, sales efforts were more focused.
Used the underlying sales data of the system to comply with the Federal Government price control reporting requirements. Developed an econometric model of the business for use in forecasting future sales. Provided data for Business Unit strategic planning efforts.
Marketing Services Manager in Boston, MA
Besides providing support for strategic planning and sales efforts and supervision of customer service, developed marketing materials for a new product that included a video to introduce the testing of the product to customers.
Business Unit Planner in Buffalo, NY
On team to complete strategic plan for the Motor Business Unit, a group of businesses that produced electric motors from 1/8 HP to over10,000 HP. Westinghouse hired a top level manager from General Electric to turn the business around. Prepared extensive analysis of competitors and forecasts of the market. Analyzed alternative actions. Managed preparation of the presentation. The manager from GE left the corporation and a senior executive took over the effort. In the end, the corporation decided to exit from the business.
Product Planner in Buffalo, NY
On a team to simplify the product line as well the process of manufacturing by reducing the number of parts used. Prepared product market competitive and growth forecasts as well as related the need for special manufactured parts to the forecasts. Worked on a system to make it easier for sales personnel to quote products that could be economically produced in the manufacturing facility.
The corporate exit decision was implemented that resulted in the closing of the division manufacturing facility. I was assigned to the Placement Center.
Placement Center Manager in Buffalo, NY
Marketed the skills of the people displaced by the facility closing and provided office capability and mentoring to them.
Westinghouse was a great place to work with smart, capable and dedicated employees who worked well together. However, that obviously was not enough as the company does not exist today.
In a world where products, markets and competition evolve with ever increasing speed, it is difficult for larger organizations that acquire bureaucratic tendencies to stay competitive. It is specially difficult in organizations that do not have sharp focus on needs of particular set of customers.
So Westinghouse found itself looking for new more profitable businesses while pruning businesses that showed declining trends with the result tending to be buying high and selling low.
The company also suffered from two major operating issues – selling Uranium fuel for nuclear plants without hedges and purchasing real estate in Atlantic City at the top of the market. In addition, with deregulation of electric generation, and reduction in growth of electricity consumption, the core market for heavy electrical equipment was disrupted.
With a weakened financial position, the company disposed of all of it’s businesses except broadcasting, purchased CBS Corporation and then became CBS.
The executive hired from General Electric also provided insight to me comparing the discipline of top level management practices of the two companies. His comment: GE had real management structure while Westinghouse was “smoke and mirrors.” The current problems at GE may be indicative that even a strong management structure is not enough to win in today’s environment.