Steve Schuckenbrock speaks about the critical relationship between technology and business
Steve Schuckenbrock '82, president of Dell Global Large Enterprise, shared wisdom gleaned from his nearly 30 years in the information technology (IT) field with students, faculty and staff in the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business on Nov. 12. Schuckenbrock, one of Elon's most accomplished business alumni, also received the 2010 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award from President Leo M. Lambert.
Schuckenbrock, who has worked for some of America's largest companies, explained that the future of business lies in one simple word: speed.
"The companies that harness IT are the ones who are going to win going forward," he said. "Be maniacal about shrinking speed - because that is how the game is going to be played."
He traces the roots of that assessment to a conversation that he had nearly two decades ago with Frito-Lay founder Herman Lay. Schuckenbrock, the company's chief information officer, asked to meet with Lay to talk strategy. At the meeting, Lay shared with him an important, if unorthodox, piece of advice: don't ever let anyone convince you to buy or build a warehouse.
"Product gets broken in a warehouse, or stolen in a warehouse," Shuckenbrock recalled. "He said, 'find a way to automate your company so it works so fast you don't need a warehouse.'"
Instead, Schuckenbrock encouraged the audience, focus on simplicity, going back to the basics and stripping away the layers of complexity that make doing business difficult. It's a philosophy that's helped Schuckenbrock play a key role in transforming Dell, Inc., from a struggling hardware producer to a business solutions provider.
"Fall in love with the fundamental DNA of a company, find out why that DNA is working or not, don't add complexity and take advantage of technology to build upon that base," he said.
Before joining Dell, Schuckenbrock served as executive vice president of global sales and client services for EDS; COO of The Feld Group, an IT consulting company; global CIO of PepsiCo; CIO of Frito-Lay; and worked in several management roles for IBM.
An outstanding scholar-athlete at Elon, Schuckenbrock played on the golf team and graduated in 1982 at the top of his class, majoring in business administration and mathematics. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife, Becky, and their five children