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Company Execs that Share the Pain

July 19, 2003

Filed under: money — Terry Wohlers @ 13:49

When times are tough, I’ve always found it disheartening to watch companies lay off employees or reduce pay and other benefits, while top executives receive embarrassingly large sums in salaries and bonuses. “How can they do it in good conscience?” I ask myself. It happens time and again, even among executives who do a seemingly poor job at managing their company.

The July 7, 2003 issue of Design News published an interesting story that counters some of my pessimism on this subject. Willem Roelandts, president and CEO of Xilinx, a company in the semiconductor business, authored the article. His company, along with many others, have been impacted by what many describe as one of the worst recessions ever to hit this industry.

Through a variety of efforts, Roelandts explained, the company instituted a variety of cost-cutting measures. The most significant was savings from a company-wide strategy to reduce payroll expenses. The CEO and executive staff received the largest reduction (20%), following by directors (10%), mid-level management (6%), non-management and salaried employees (3%), and hourly employees (0%). That’s right: No pay cut for the hourly employees.

The strategy paid off. The company delivered new products in 18 months, while gaining market share. Meanwhile, employee morale remained high. In fact, the company earned a Number Four ranking in Fortune magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For. Roelandts said that they were totally upfront with employees and explained to them the dilemma and financial bind that the company faced, while asking for their feedback, advice, and support. It’s my hope that the top management at other companies can learn from Xilinx and others like it.

Spend a Week at SIGGRAPH

July 12, 2003

Filed under: education,event — Terry Wohlers @ 11:14

The Computer Graphics Pioneers is a loosely organized group formed in 1982 to provide historic continuity and a medium for exchanging recollections of the development and application of computer graphics. Membership is open to anyone who has participated in the computer graphics industry for at least 20 years. The organization is sponsoring projects that foster learning. A recent project, led by pioneer David Kasik of Boeing, is the “Spend a Week at SIGGRAPH” program for high school students. Each student is being assigned a Pioneer mentor to help them discover and understand as much as possible at SIGGRAPH, an annual computer graphics exposition that is being held July 28-31, 2003 in San Diego. 

This program is an excellent opportunity for students to experience a week that could be life-changing. It’s the kind of activity that organizers and affiliates of other expositions should consider. Imagine that if a similar student program would have occurred 10 years ago at rapid prototyping events. Kids that were then 16 would now be 26 and in a position to influence RP purchases. It surely would have helped develop and shape the RP industry in positive way. 

If you are interested in getting involved in a similar student program for an upcoming RP or related exposition, let me know. I am interested in helping.

To learn more about the “Spend a Week at SIGGRAPH” program, contact David Kasik at Thank you, David, for your efforts.