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Membership: Member Interviews

Donald Hastings

(Interview continued from e-mail newsletter.)

Q. Do you think that lifelong employment can translate well across to other companies and industries?
A. My feeling is that when a company puts customers and employees first, shareholders will gain value in the long run. That's a very different view than the short-term quarterly estimate type management style preferred by Wall Street. Lincoln Electric is a public company and does perform quarterly investor calls, but investors know that they're not trying solely to maximize short term quarterly returns.

As far as lifelong employment at other companies, if I were running a company today, I would do the best I could to uphold lifelong employment. But I'd also recognize that in today's marketplace many people think they need to move around from company to company in order to get ahead. Consequently, it would be exceedingly difficult to instill this philosophy to those who have grown up in the move around culture.

Q. How many HBS business cases have now been written about Lincoln Electric?
A. About four or five. Most of the cases are based upon the relationship between management and employees. The biggest selling case in the history of HBS is the Lincoln Electric 1972 case. I recently became the President of the Harvard Club of Naples, and I told the first 60 people that signed up that we'd send them the 1972 case. In addition, the current CEO came down and spoke with club members and brought them up to date. Today, the basic principles of lifelong employment remain intact and shareholders have been handsomely rewarded: Lincoln's stock is up 40% this year.
Q. What do you think Northeast Ohioans can do to ensure that the economy improves?
A. My feeling is that if Northeast Ohio is to really grow we have to become more and more of an international city by encouraging manufacturing and/or engineering firms from India, China, Poland etc. to have a presence here. On that note, I'm involved with the Cleveland Council on World Affairs, which just elected a new chairman, Alex Machaskee, from the Plain Dealer We're moving the Council forward in collaboration with the Cleveland International Program (CIP), the World Trade Center, Cleveland, and Cleveland State. We need to put on programs to encourage Northeast Ohioans to go international. That's the real future of our city. I don't think heavy manufacturing will ever really come back.
Q. What’s the best HBS-NEO event you have attended?
A. Well, this is very self serving, but I have to say it was the HBS 2001 Global Conference, of which I was the Chairman. We were fortunate to have a truly great team. We had to push hard to sell it out because, unfortunately, Cleveland is not thought of as a "destination" city. However, a little over 900 people attended and there was a waiting list. It was the most successful global conference HBS has ever had. It was not only financially successful on its own, but we were also able to assist with the HBS travel and publishing expenses as well.
Q. What does the HBS-NEO Club do well, and what could it do better?
A. The HBS-NEO club is truly outstanding. The programs are great. The board involvement is very good. Our board members are always looking for new ideas. The overall camaraderie of the area alumni is outstanding. I wouldn't do much to change it.

See other Member Interviews.

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