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Ford CEO Addresses Overflow Crowd; Inaugurates Talk Series

By Christopher Falling
Associate News Editor

On Friday, Ford Motor Company Chairman and CEO Alex Trotman spoke to an overflowing crowd of 500 at the inaugural lecture of the Industry Leaders in Technology and Management seminar series.

The School of Engineering and Sloan School of Management are sponsoring the series in conjunction with the Center for Technology, Policy and Industrial Development. The series will bring to MITleading CEOs who have distinguished themselves in endeavors involving technology and management.

The lecture was held in Bartos Theater, which has a seating capacity of 200 people. While there was an overflow room set up with 230 more chairs, it was quickly filled to standing room only.

"One of my measures of success for this series was that we would fill the hall," said Program Manager for CTPID Donna Carty.

"We are in the initial stages of planning for the next lecture in the series," Carty said. "There have been invitations sent to various CEOs and we should know by the end of the week who the next speaker will be, but I don't want to set any expectations."

A larger facility, such as Kresge Auditorium, might be used for the next lecture, she said.

Trotman focuses on the future

Trotman focused on increasing competition from a global market where traditional trade barriers are being destroyed. New business opportunities will arise from this "borderless world" as well as a "dogfight" between companies aspiring to survive and thrive.

Currently 20 percent of the world's population accounts for 92 percent of new car purchases, Trotman said. "As the Asian and South American economies open and grow, [Ford] believes that its potential market will expand dramatically."

"The successful competitors for the 21st century will be lean, fast-moving organizations with few layers of management and extremely low coefficients of bureaucratic drag," Trotman said. "Large corporations will leverage resources from around the world to create economies of scale and use of the best practices."

During a question and answer session that followed the speech Trotman addressed questions ranging from Ford's strategies to MIT's role in Ford's restructuring.

"MIT is a supplier, and I hope to work closer with MIT to become more competitive, to increase productivity, and innovation," Trotman said.

"I am hoping for a more desirable relationship between governments and wealth-creating industries in the next century," Trotman said, adding that a strong industrial base is vital to a strong economy.