Video: Ford Motor Company Vice President Bill Dirksen ’82 on his liberal arts education

Author: Todd Boruff



“The liberal education I received at Notre Dame really taught me how to learn, how to analyze, and, at the most fundamental level, how to problem-solve,” said Bill Dirksen ’82. “And that’s what most businesses are looking for—people who know how to solve problems.”

Dirksen, who majored in economics and government major in the College of Arts and Letters, is now vice president of labor affairs at Ford Motor Company. He is responsible for global labor relations, negotiating with unions that represent about three-fourths of Ford’s 200,000 employees.

“It's very interdisciplinary,” Dirksen said. “It’s a combination of law, psychology, organizational behavior, business. You’ve got to mix all these things together to really be a good labor negotiator.”

He feels that the empathy, curiosity, and communication skills students develop in the College of Arts and Letters are the foundations of professional success, regardless of career path.

“They’ve been at the center of the work I’ve done,” Dirksen said.