Different Takes On Top Managers
Your article "The top managers of 1995" (Cover Story, Jan. 8) begins: "Good managers know how to cut: They trim costs, reengineer, and restructure. Great managers know how to grow: They realize you can't shrink your way to greatness." You took the words right out of my mouth.
Dwight L. Gertz
Mercer Management Consulting
I would have gauged the success of my "top 25 managers" by measuring the number of jobs they created in 1995 instead of how many divisions they spun off, how many plants they closed, or how they circumvented antitrust laws to create another megamerger.
When I was a teen, I used to enjoy reading business magazines because they were filled with stories of entrepreneurship and industry leaders who were bringing forth new technologies and new services.
I congratulate the 1995 winners, but I hope the 1996 list of top managers will be composed completely of industrialists who have fostered employee loyalty and grown their companies, without "downsizing."
J. Tyler Ballance
Your story was noteworthy as much for its inattention to people skills as to its focus on dealmaking and financial results. Is an excellent manager simply a person who achieves outstanding results regardless of how he or she treats the people who do the work?
Under this definition, anyone emulating a robber baron would qualify as a top manager.
C. Michael Armstrong at Hughes Electronics got credit as a top 25 manager.
However, the other side of the story is how he beat Hughes employees: Tens of thousands were laid off (despite substantial increases in profits), plants were closed in four locations, severance benefits were cut 50%, corporate 401(k) contributions were reduced, jobs were moved out of the state and country, other jobs were outsourced, and employees were blocked from transferring to other Hughes Group divisions that have jobs. Hughes is also trying to take $1 billion out of the employees' retirement fund.
These are the employees Mr. Armstrong congratulated for their contribution to cold war victory.
National Organization of Downsized Employees
Redondo Beach, Calif.
It would be an obvious comment for me to say shame on the U.S. that only two females appear in your top 25 managers of 1995. Your magazine probably does not need to revisit its selection criteria, however you can do something about the subliminal messages that continue to skew the male-female ratio of upper management to the country.
Chauvinist Award of the Year must go to BUSINESS WEEK for the biased writing that slated the tiny paragraph on Ana Patricia Botin more to her father than to her. As if that weren't enough, you gave the slant even more visibility by subheading the paragraph "Like father like daughter."
Has Ms. Botin really done so little as her own person? In that case, why is she even on the list of the best 25 managers of 1995? Get conscious!
I was surprised to observe the notable omission of IBM's Lou Gerstner in the top 25 list.
HCL America Inc.
BUSINESS WEEK should at least have given honorable mention to Caterpillar's Donald Fites.
Hanns John Maier
I noted your description of the accomplishments of Alain Prestat of Thomson Multimedia. One of the key selling points of its satellite dish is its size. But the size of the dish is 18 inches, not 12 inches.
You should have included Bob Allen, CEO of AT&T, the executive who made not only the smartest but the gutsiest business decision of the year.
Jesse R. Mohorovic