FedEx CEO visits RMU


Photo credit: Tori Flick

Julian Gregorio

Robert Morris students and professors squeezed into a packed venue on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017, to see the president and CEO of FedEx Ground.

Henry Maier stopped by the Sewall International Suite at the peak of RMU’s Business Week to give a short speech and to field questions from a student and staff-filled audience. The meat of the speech focused on four things he said he wished he would have known at the start of his career.

“I thought he was a pretty intelligent guy, for sure,” said Jacob Savage, a finance major who spoke personally with Maier following the event. “I thought he answered every specific question every person had.”

Maier gave his backstory before diving into the four points of advice, explaining that he lived in Detroit, Michigan, and attended the University of Michigan.

Number one: communication skills are everything. Maier suggested paying attention to great communicators, asking questions in conversations and listening to peers.

“Without great communication skills, you can’t stand up in front of a group of people and articulate a vision,” Maier said.

During a question-and-answer after the speech, which President Howard moderated, Howard brought the point full circle by encouraging students to seek university assistance for communications improvement.

In his second point, Maier emphasized that people matter. He poked fun at the professors sitting in the front row when he quipped that if you don’t like people, “You can become a consultant — or an academic.”

The chief executive spoke to the students in the audience, complimenting the university while underlining the significance of students’ personal relationships.

“Whatever you do when you leave this great university, there is a 99.9 percent chance that you will need to work with people to get things done every single day of your career,” Maier said.

In his third point, he spoke in favor of capitalism, saying that capitalism is not a four-letter word. An economics major, Maier argued that every city in America — including its infrastructure and roads — was built by capitalism. He also pointed to the economic system’s effect on poverty.

“Capitalism has lifted more people out of poverty on this planet than any other economic system devised by humankind,” he said.

FedEx gives more than $3 million a year to charitable organizations. The fourth bit of advice stressed the importance of giving back.

“You have to give back,” Maier said. “Your generation calls it ‘pay it forward.'”

He acknowledged that many college students dismiss giving back right away, citing work and studying. However, he insisted that someone has to stand up and do it. We have the time, treasure and talent, he said, and “the neediest in our communities need all three.”

After the speech, Maier responded to about 30 minutes of questions from both students and staff. During that session, answers ranged from showing appreciation for mentors to celebrating economics and history courses.

Immediately following the event, some students and staff followed Maier and Howard to the adjacent dining room for refreshments. Students circulated around Maier, and he fielded personal questions, even allowing one student to snap a selfie with him. President Howard expressed hope that the CEO would visit Robert Morris again in the near future.