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Share Your Story

Throughout our anniversary year, we asked our members to share their personal stories of the impact IRI has made on their work. Take a look at what they had to say in the videos below. To learn more about becoming a member, visit www.iriweb.org.


Here are some other stories from our members:

Stan Jaskolski, IRI President (1997)

I enjoyed the privilege of serving as the IRI President in the 1997 – 98 time frame, while serving as the CTO of Eaton Corporation, 1986- 2001.  There existed at that time a ‘Milwaukee Mafia’ of IRI Presidents, Chuck Bishop before me, and Warren Stumpf before Chuck, and myself, all from Milwaukee companies.
The focus of the IRI during my tenure was more product in less time, wherein we dealt with processes that shrunk the time to market of new product innovation.  Our IRI ROR and semi-annual IRI meetings supported this focus by discussing topics such as assigning local CTO’s  from our Research Centers to each Operation, sending researchers out into the market place to meet with customers to determine exactly their needs, forming within our Research Centers Long Term Forecasting groups who would present long-term new product ideas based on forecasting emerging markets, technologies, political, social and market forces and their impact on new product needs and opportunities, rapid proto-typing techniques that would allow our Research Centers to share with the market place customers, a proto-type of a new product idea, in terms of form and feature, in one day, and collaboration between marketing, manufacturing and research, along with customers, to innovate for manufacturing ease.
Perhaps the greatest joy and benefit of the IRI resides in the cherished long-term friendships with game-changing CTO’s from all major technology-based industrial Research Centers.  These friendships allowed singularly unique sharing of insights and experiences that were ‘out of the box’ kind of ideas, that would never be shared without the hallowed IRI provided relationships.  Examples are linking two or more Research Centers to pursue a topic of mutual interest, opening new market opportunities through collaborative efforts, joint development of innovation, sharing of processes and techniques to provide many more new product ideas in shorter and shorter times.
During my involvement with the IRI, my wife Cindy and I were blessed with the close friendship and support of Chuck Larson and his wife Joan, a friendship that endures and is enjoyed yet today.
May I congratulate the IRI for providing the leadership and forum focused on bringing innovation/technology into the marketplace quickly and with appropriate profitability, over the 75 years of its existence.  In so doing, the efforts of the IRI recognize that science and engineering based technology and innovation are now at the center stage of growing our standard of living and quality of life.  As such, we in our Research Centers are the hub of building a better world for all.

Phillip Minerich, Hormel Foods

The IRI is the best dollar-for-dollar investment my division has made to help us connect with R&D innovators and managers across all industries.  I’ve made good friends, and established excellent working relationships with several IRI members at the ROR sessions and IRI meetings.  I’ve also learned a great deal from the IRI speakers at the annual and ROR meetings.  I value having immediate access to the pdf versions of the presentations at the end of each seminar day.  As research managers, we are all addressing very similar challenges, but the IRI provides a unique process and venue to share information in a non-competitive forum.  The ROR is also a unique process for IRI members build on ideas and concepts to resolve shared issues.

Jules Blake, IRI President (1981)

Homage to the IRI

My fondest memories of the 24 years I worked with the IRI (counting the one-and-a-half as the IRI Fellow in the White House Science Office) are of the people; the brightest, the movers and achievers, most importantly the mentors and the effect they had on my career. I clearly remember some of the people I met at my very first IRI meetings.

Will Bright, for instance, then IRI president-elect. Five years after I met him he became Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Kendall Co. in Boston and he recruited me to be his Vice President of R&D thanks to our connecting at IRI meetings. The Kendall Co. was later bought by Colgate and I stayed on as its VP of R&D. Such career advancement made possible just by attending IRI meetings.

Another chance meeting that would play a big role in my life was with Morrie Tannenbaum, who worked at Westinghouse at the time. He later became CEO of New Jersey Bell, and then CFO and Vice Chairman of AT&T. One night he was dining at my house when the CEO of AT&T kept calling him; they were dismantling AT&T. I was also present with Morrie the night they shut Ma Bell down.

But Morrie was most helpful to me before that when he was CEO of NJ Bell. The entire phone system of the Colgate Research Center in Piscataway, NJ, went down one day with the exception of my private line. My staff could not get any help, so I called Morrie. After waiting for a short time, an angry NJ Bell guy burst into my office. He said they were just pulled off a priority job to come to my office and he wanted to know who the hell I knew to pull such a stunt.

I told him: Morrie Tannenbaum.

Oh! He got right to work.

It’s about who you know sometimes, and IRI supplied them in droves.

At another meeting, I met Harry Coover from Tennessee Eastman; the man who invented crazy glue. He mentored me while lounging around the pool in Boca Raton, FL, at an IRI event. I learned how he picked a research leader to move from a small group of chemists to running a multi-hundred person lab. Harry also served as my vice president when I became president of IRI.

Another friendship developed thanks to IRI was with Tom Baron of Shell. He let me come down to Houston to spend the day with him to see how his organization ran R&D. It was there that I learned how the portfolio was the only place for advantage over the opposition.

Herb Fusfeld, another IRI past president, mentored me on how to run a committee, and all members of the IRI Board of Directors when I was President taught me how to deal with a diverse group of tough CTOs, all of whom had a different opinion or two about everything.

Art Bueche of GE, to name just one more, was smart enough to bring in help from his own lab to run the IRI program committee; a precedent which I followed. And all of the past presidents quickly found you could only run the IRI because of the great work of Chuck Larson and the IRI staff.

All of this and more made being president of the IRI the second best experience of my career.

What was the first? Becoming an IRI past president. Happy Anniversary IRI!