Matthew Lisk at Boeing headquarters.
Matthew Lisk recalls the sense of anxiety he felt as he was walking into the board room at the St. Louis offices of the Boeing Corporation. The supply chain management major in the College of Business and Economics
and Boeing intern was flown out at the company’s expense to present his study linking internal performance metrics to customer satisfaction measures to a group of high-level executives of the world’s leading aerospace company, and felt the pressure mounting.
“I was extremely nervous,” says Lisk. “I’ve made presentations before in front of professors and classmates and other small groups, but nothing like this. This was a whole different level, and I knew I had a lot riding on this.”
He couldn’t have fared too poorly. Following his presentation, the team of Boeing executives not only agreed to continue to fund the project he was working on, but also hired him to continue to work for them part-time throughout the academic year, and offered him a full-time job upon graduation. Earlier, Boeing executives agreed to pay his tuition for his senior year.
“I had a sense it was going well,” Lisk offers in understatement. “They were nodding their heads and seemed pretty receptive. That helped me calm down a lot.”
He graciously shares credit for his performance and attendant reward with Mike Kolchin and Sue Sherer, both professors of management and marketing in Lehigh’s College of Business and Economics. Kolchin worked directly with Lisk on the summer benchmarking study and coached him for his presentation.
“Dr. Kolchin was really great,” he says. “He helped me prepare for my presentation, reviewed the slides with me and helped me articulate the key points I wanted to make. He also told me to just relax and be myself – which, of course, only made me more nervous.”
Lisk’s work, which came as the result of his junior-year internship with the Boeing Rotorcraft Division in Philadelphia, is the outgrowth of a broader relationship Lehigh University’s business college shares with the Boeing Corporation.
“Boeing is a member of the Center for Value Chain Research (CVCR),” explains Sherer, noting that the global company is an original member of the center she co-directs with industrial and systems engineering professor Larry Snyder of the College of Engineering.
“Boeing participated in a workshop that the CVCR sponsored on campus in May, 2003, and they officially joined the CVCR a year later,” Sherer says. “The Center provides member companies outsourced research and development capabilities, and develops standard processes to custom configure R & D projects with a comprehensive range of research opportunities.”
A cross-disciplinary venture
Deliverables can include small-scale feasibility studies to large-scale implementation projects, and company-specific to across-industries research projects, Sherer says. The Center also provides members with various mechanisms to facilitate the effective exchange of state-of-the-art research and best practices information.
“The cross-disciplinary venture between Lehigh’s business and engineering colleges is staffed by a core group of 25 faculty members,” says Sherer. “We provide a unique, multi-disciplinary approach to research and offer exciting new opportunities for innovation through the integration of analytical and quantitative engineering approaches with process-driven, field-based business research.”
Kolchin’s involvement with the Boeing relationship began when the company expressed interest in providing a scholarship to a business student, and Kolchin joined forces with Bob Trent, associate professor of management and marketing, to pitch the option of offering an internship to a supply chain management major.
“From this beginning, we migrated to working with Boeing to offer the SCM certificate program to their employees in their Philadelphia office by offering satellite courses to them,” Kolchin says.
The success of that venture prompted Boeing to provide further funding for the ongoing development of the SCM program, which Kolchin says was used for instructional materials, support of faculty research and the formation of the SCM student club.
“Through Bob Beggs, our main contact with Boeing, Lehigh has become one of a select few partner schools to work with Boeing,” says Kolchin.
As a direct beneficiary of the success of that partnership, Lisk stands at the brink of a promising career with the aerospace industry giant, and he feels his Lehigh experience finds him well-prepared to take on his long-term goal of becoming the CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
“I looked at a few other schools before deciding on Lehigh,” he says, “but this had the best business school, and I knew I wanted to pursue that career course. Looking back, I know I made the right decision. No other college could have provided me with these opportunities. I feel very, very fortunate.”