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)
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!