Chief Learning Officer magazine is a trademark of Mediatec Publishing Inc. All clomedia.com and Chief Learning Officer magazine content Copyright 2013 MediaTec Publishing Inc. All Rights Reserved. It is illegal to copy, reproduce or publish any information contained on clomedia.com or in Chief Learning Officer magazine without express written permission from MediaTec Publishing Inc.
How to Build Executive Alliances
Learning professionals have long sought a seat at the table, and many have succeeded thanks to relationships with peer leaders that fulfill their company’s business strategy.
Chief Learning Officer Bob Bennett joined FedEx Express in 1979 and has worked in myriad areas of the company. This offered him a comprehensive view of its operations and services, but 10 years ago his insight nearly got him fired. He said it was the best thing that ever happened to him.A native New Yorker, Bennett received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in industrial engineering from Cornell University. He earned his MBA from Bernard Baruch College at the City University of New York. When he became a senior engineer at FedEx, Bennett moved his office space from the company’s headquarters to the closest station — where package pickup and delivery take place. His project was setting the time for FedEx morning delivery. The other three senior engineers stayed in Memphis, but Bennett knew his project couldn’t be completed without working alongside the operating staff.“Moving created a reputation for me, a reputation of caring,” he said. “This led to instant credibility in the field among operations and helped facilitate the implementation of ideas I may have in the future. It opened the door for the rest of my career.”Before long Bennett was promoted to vice president of planning and engineering in Latin America. At this time — 10 years ago — he was asked to help the company’s board restructure FedEx, an invitation he credits to his move to that packaging station years before.FedEx had grown since it began operations in 1973, and so had its individual organizations. “In my mind, while this had optimized the various organizations — internal departments — it may not have optimized the overall business; all we had was optimized silos. Truly successful companies realize the impact the entire infrastructure has on the bottom line and overall organization’s health. At FedEx it’s a comprehensive look at the people, service and profit side of the business.”Bennett and nine other individuals dissected the company’s structure, role and responsibilities across all divisions to see where there was duplicate work or service gaps. The intent was to improve the company’s profit margin and employees’ ability to provide better services and more offerings to customers. “Rather than leaving incumbents in positions, it was more important to have the right skills in the right positions,” he said. “After the company was reorganized I was convinced I had strategically fired myself.”
The Next Generation of HR: What’s Wrong? What’s Right?
May 23rd 1:00pm - 2:00pm CT
2013 CLO Breakfast Club, Boston
September 12th - 12th, 2013The Westin Copley Place
Fall 2013 CLO Symposium
September 30th - October 2nd, 2013Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa
Get the Magazine