The statistics are telling: the average lifespan of leading U.S. companies on the S&P 500 Index has decreased by more than 50 years in the last century, from an average of 67 years in the 1920s, to existing an average of just 15 years today. While the trend touches many, it's also a reason to celebrate those organizations that have the passion to execute a vision that carries on for generations.
Parker is celebrating just that. For 100 years, the company has persevered to become the global leader of motion and control technology. It's Parker's innovative spirit that has placed its technology at the heart of innovative, market-driven, solutions and systems that are relied upon around the world.
While engineering expertise is the driver behind Parker's countless system solutions, it's also the corporations' strong culture and dedication to developing its team members that has made the difference, according to recently elected Executive Vice President - Finance and Administration and Chief Financial Officer Cathy Suever, a 29-year Parker veteran.
"From the very beginning, I was encouraged to learn and take on new challenges. I'm very appreciative of those who trusted me, took the time to help me develop, encouraged me to take some risks, and gave me opportunities to grow along with the company."
Promoting from within
It can be challenging to build a pipeline of team members who are prepared for promotion, but offering internal opportunities is steeped in Parker's culture. For many, a role with Parker is one of their first jobs out of college that evolves into a life-long career due to the support and training aimed to improve performance and achieve continuously higher levels of success.
Suever is a perfect example of this path. From her role in external reporting, she was encouraged to take positions at the Gas Turbine Fuel Systems Division, including Division Controller and Business Unit Manager.
"Divisions are the heartbeat of Parker - it helps you really understand the business when you walk it, feel it and suffer with the daily struggles. It's where we design and build our products, understand our customers so we can support them in the best way possible, and work with our supply base as partners.
"I was able to learn so much about how things really happen, about leading and motivating a team, and how diverse teams working together can achieve so much more."
From her work at the division level, Suever progressed to Parker's Director of Finance and Investor Relations Support. Soon after, she became an Assistant Treasurer with responsibilities for financial services in Mexico and Canada. Suever then became Vice President and Controller of the Climate and Industrial Controls Group before beginning her current role in 2010.
Suever admits that Parker's decentralized and diversified environment makes for a complex structure that presents its own challenges. Yet, it's the corporation's conservative approach for long-term stability and its strong sustaining culture that allows for growth and learning opportunities for each team member.
"We all work hard every day to improve. As we continue to streamline our processes and focus on how each of us can best add value, we can better utilize our time, commitment and passion to focus on the operations and overall business performance. I'm confident that our growth and development moving forward into our next century as a business will be even more of a partnership with our internal and external customers than it's ever been before."
This post is the fifth in a series of leadership interviews to commemorate Parker's centennial anniversary. To learn more about Parker's history, visit www.parker.com/centennial.
Decentralization with Global Unity
Making Safety Our Top Priority
Entrepreneurial Spirit Fuels Parker's Family
Nurturing a Competitive and Compassionate Culture
A New Strategy to Win
Commemorating 50 Years on the NYSE