An engineer with a strong liberal arts background is a valuable asset in today’s business world, says Craig Simon, president and chief executive officer of FedEx SupplyChain and a 1989 alumnus of Notre Dame’s distinctive Arts and Letters/Engineering Dual-Degree Program.
“When you get into the business world, you’re going to stand out because you will have the ability to use both sides of your brain,” says Simon, who spoke at a recent event honoring the top students in the program.
Chosen for “their exemplification of the highest ideals of the dual-degree program,” the 2013 Reilly Scholars are:
- Patrick Conry (Greek and Roman civilization and civil engineering),
- Antwane Mason (Japanese and computer science),
- Breanna Stachowski (design and mechanical engineering), and
- Julie Wamser (French and computer science).
Blending the Best of Both Worlds
Established in the 1960s and hosted in the John J. Reilly Center for Science, Technology, and Values, the Arts and Letters/Engineering Dual-Degree Program allows students to combine professional training in engineering with a rich experience of humanistic, artistic, and social scientific perspectives.
While demanding, the five-year program offers a great payoff—a bachelor of science degree from the College of Engineering and a bachelor of arts degree from the College of Arts and Letters.
Simon, who majored in history and mechanical engineering, advised current students to use this broad educational background to their full advantage.
“A lot of people like to talk but don’t have ideas to express, while others have great ideas but can’t express them,” he says. “You will have the training to do both.”
This combination of skills has helped Simon in his career at both Andersen Consulting and FedEx, where he now oversees operations in 24 countries.
Understanding the Big Picture
An important philosophy Simon has followed throughout his career is focusing on how his business is serving the wider world—something he says is key part of Notre Dame’s mission and was central to his education at the University.
He urges current students in the Reilly program to “strive for something that goes beyond your job and beyond yourself.
“I still take great pride in telling people I attended Notre Dame,” he says. “The foundation Notre Dame gave me taught me to do the right thing—regardless of the implications.”