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CIBRE conversations tackle hot topics

Monday, August 31, 2009
CIBRE conversations tackle hot topics

In the business-as-usual world, weekends were made for relaxing and spending time away from work. In this new economy, those with a desire to explore a new career or want a voice in the future of their industry spent their Saturdays this summer networking with others to make a difference.


Two afternoons a month, The Center for Integrated Business Research and Education (CIBRE) in the School of Business Administration at Oakland University hosted informal discussions, led by Dean Mohan Tanniru, called CIBRE Conversations.  

“We live in a business world that is constantly changing and facing some tough economic hardships,” says Tanniru. “If we are to be a successful institution that educates students who are entering this turbulent market and help the regional economy that has supported this institution, then we should be listening to the business people -- especially those who have been adversely impacted by the Michigan economy -- and figuring out how best we can support them.”

Lisa Ecklund (SHS ’88) attended the health care session hoping to learn how to transition her occupational health and safety career into the health care environment. As an Operations Region Risk/Safety Manager, she works to identify and remove hazards in diverse workplace environments.


“I spent my entire career contributing to the well being of others, so employees are able to work productively and live injury free. My passion lies with a continuous push for improvement,” Ecklund says. “I would love to put this ingrained passion to use inside an innovative health care environment.”


This Conversation centered on how someone could adapt their resume to make them desirable, become informed and confident about switching career paths, and know what resources are available to help make that transition.


The attendees plan to build on the connections made at the session. “We are hoping to design a task force team including professionals with different types of backgrounds to sponsor, align and drive OU to create certificate classes to help people who want to move into health care companies,” Ecklund says.


Another session tackled an industry that some could argue was the backbone of the Michigan economy until recently – tool and die shops. Topics included the influences prohibiting growth and job creation in the tool, die, mold, metal stamping and precision machining industry. 

Bob Quinn, president, RCM Inc., has watched his tool and die business decline 70 percent in the last five years. He was struck by how many different perspectives his colleagues brought to the meeting. “Every person had a different take on what was going on, and they all had very valid issues. There are many things aligned against the industry that could use a fair look between education, government and the banks.”

As a result of the meeting, a follow up meeting is being planned between representatives of the tool and die industry and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). 

Tanniru appreciated the opportunity to learn where the tool and die industry is coming from -- though he’s focused on where they’re going, not where they’ve been.

“Their passion for the industry they belong to and their desire to be competitive is extraordinary. In fact many of them are and want to be competitive," says Tanniru. "I often think that U.S. industry is too quick in sourcing their jobs overseas and not willing to work with the local industry folks at lower tiers to see how, through long term relationships, and can address the cost issues."

Additional CIBRE Conversations topics covered financial, energy and service sectors; business entrepreneurship; and automotive, aerospace, energy, chemical and other manufacturing sectors.

Given the success over the summer, the SBA’s CIBRE plans to continue to these informal conversations once a month on Saturdays in the months of September 2009 through April 2010. See the CIBRE Conversations Web page for dates and other details.