“The industrial and systems engineering department culture with its small classes and outstanding curriculum is amazing. It’s one thing I can never pay back, although I’ve been trying to do so ever since I graduated.” – Stanley Makadok
Stan Makadok earned his MS in industrial engineering from Rutgers School of Engineering in 1964 after having received his bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from the City College of New York. Early in his career he joined the Pepsi-Cola Company, where he became a vice president of planning at a young age, before embarking on a highly successful career as a leading management consultant. In 1977, after two years with Coopers & Lybrand (now PricewaterhouseCoopers), he founded Century Management Consultants, Inc., which has focused on strategic planning, marketing, and distribution for numerous top U.S. and international clients. An active supporter of Rutgers University, he has served on the Dean’s Advisory Council for the School of Graduate Studies and on the Rutgers Alumni Association board. He is also a member of the Rutgers Alumni Association’s Loyal Sons & Daughters. A recognized thought leader in his field, he often leads workshops in strategic planning and negotiating.
What distinguishes Rutgers for you?
Engineers look to the future. It’s their challenge – and business – to predict the future and make it happen. As a world-class research university, with a faculty and staff known for their cutting-edge technical expertise, Rutgers understands this. The small classes and outstanding curriculum were and still are ahead of their time -- and its rankings keep improving. For engineering students, a wide variety of courses are offered.
What stands out most about your own experience as a Rutgers student?
I’d earned a degree in mechanical engineering, but I was the first person at Rutgers – alphabetically – to get a master’s degree in industrial engineering. More than 50 years later, their courses are still relevant. The department used my thesis as a model for years.
Rutgers has been good to me. They went out of their way for me and paid for everything. They paid me to write my thesis and to be a TA. I taught classes, which was a great experience. When you teach, you learn. You have to understand a subject to teach it.
What skills did you bring to Pepsi?
Besides being trained as both a mechanical and industrial engineer, I was extremely quantitative. My major attribute was that I had an outstanding education, which gave me the tools I needed. At Pepsi, I applied scientific methods to marketing and logistics, and was able to quantify and supply the metrics needed for hyper-competitive marketing situations.
What led you to establish your own management consulting firm?
I was most interested in solving problems. I wanted to select my own projects.
As a consultant, I’ve been fortunate to work in more than 17 industries, and with hundreds of companies, including Fortune 500 companies. I have spent about half of my time traveling on consulting assignments that took me everywhere – from Canada to Europe.
How would you describe your approach to strategic planning?
One of my favorite approaches is from consulting philosophy that says: It’s not a matter of doing things right, it’s a matter of finding the right things to do and then concentrating on them. People don’t do this as consciously as they should, but that’s what strategic planning is all about. I help clients determine what they should do and how they should do it and then work together with them to develop a plan that will work.
What have you most valued about your Rutgers education?
I’ve been very fortunate. The culture and nurturing environment really are amazing – and is one thing I can never pay back, even though I’ve been trying to ever since I graduated.
Rutgers engineering isn’t like other programs that are very hard-nosed and just push you through. The people in the ISE department really care about the students.Some schools tell new students to look to their left and look to their right, and then say that those students will likely not be there for the long haul. Here, we don’t say that. As School of Engineering Dean Farris likes to say, we’re here to get through together. We’re here to make sure you have the best opportunity to get the best education possible.
You have an impressive record of service to the department, the school, and the university. What are you especially proud of?
I’ve dedicated a lot of my time and energy to the school over the years. I’m currently chair of the ISE department’s Industrial Advisory Board, which is an important resource for the department. We provide professional perspectives and develop and promote productive relationships with businesses and industries.
I’ve also served on the Rutgers Alumni Association board, which is part of the Rutgers University Alumni Association, and on the Dean’s Advisory Council for the School of Graduate Studies, working to broaden Rutgers’ impact as a leading national research university.
I enjoy leading workshops and speaking to students. On March 5 of this year, I made a speech to an ISE class about an industry-transforming project I’d worked on. It had taken place years ago, so I could talk about it now. I’m glad I had that opportunity, because a week later, the campus was shut down due to the pandemic.
You also recently gave back by serving as a judge for the virtual ISE Senior Design Project presentations. What was that like?
While I would rather have been there in person, as I have been for many years, there wasn’t a glitch in the whole presentation – the student teams were all cued up correctly. It was as close to being there in person as you could be. The only thing I missed was the donuts at the breaks! I have to congratulate the department and its chair, Mohsen Jafari, with the successful execution of this first-ever virtual event.
What impressed you about the student teams’ presentations?
It was difficult to judge the teams, as they were all so well-prepared. They all had excellent, high level communication and presentation skills. Each team had just eight minutes for their presentations and two minutes to answer questions from the judges. Their projects were able to conquer challenging problems with creative solutions. These students have been prepared to be outstanding and will be able to carry their weight in any corporation.
Do you have any advice for new ISE students?
It’s an outstanding field. Many corporate presidents have industrial engineering training. It teaches you that everything is a system. It’s all interconnected and your job is to make the system work. It’s a business and technical model that is excellent preparation if you want a leadership role in technology or business.
If you could travel tomorrow, where would you go?
I’ve been a world traveler. I like the Orient the most. China, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Vietnam are each very impressive. The cultures are what interest me and I would happily revisit.