Alcoa CEO opens up to students
Alcoa chairman and CEO Klaus Kleinfeld
Kleinfeld with Fisher student Greg Hammons
After listening to presentations from students in Ohio State’s engineering college and Fisher’s energy and sustainability Industry Cluster, Klaus Kleinfeld, Chairman and CEO of Alcoa, offered the students two options: to hear a scripted presentation or have an open dialogue.
The students eagerly chose the latter.
Alcoa is a corporate partner and sponsoring company in Fisher’s manufacturing and energy and sustainability clusters. Kleinfeld spoke to the students about his education, what he believes makes a good leader and what he values in a person’s professional experience and educational background when he is considering a new hire.
“This is a very unique time in your life right now,” Kleinfeld told the students. “The best you can do is learn as much as you can and take in as many different views that you can absorb. And question realities as much as you can. Don’t believe in all the theories that you hear. You will experience in your lifetime many times where your curiosity leads you in the right direction, but the educational system will sometimes tell you that’s not how it is.”
Seizing the moment of unfettered access to a multinational CEO was Greg Hammons, a third-year logistics major who is also president of Fisher’s Logistics Association, “As president of The Logistics Association we have large events so it was exciting and eye-opening to get his opinion on how to run a large organization then transfer and apply his advice to what I do. Even as a resident’s assistant, some of the ideas he discussed about understanding the other person’s perspective can help me in dealing with conflict resolution.”
A member of the manufacturing cluster, Erika Dickinson, who is studying finance and operations at Fisher, said Kleinfeld’s discussion on engagement resonated with her. “The most important thing that he said is that it’s not one person that can be perfect, it’s a team that makes something perfect.”
“I was amazed by his honesty . . . his company makes aluminum, but he didn’t talk about aluminum. He talked about his company’s values and he talked about what they do for the environment and the community,” she said.
“I thought Mr. Kleinfeld was very open and authentic about how Alcoa is doing in terms of its values and how its employees live out their values,” said James DeGraw a senior studying real estate and urban analysis with a minor in entrepreneurship. “The level of openness he gave us and the recommendations of what he looks for in leaders were very interesting to me.”
“From my perspective, I would view this as one of the pinnacle events to a college education,” DeGraw said. “When I come to presentations like these, it is where I learn I have passions that I never knew I had just sitting in the classroom.”