Lee Miskowski spent much of his career in Ford's marketing world. He worked for Ford of Europe in the 1970s and Ford Division in the 1980s. In 1991, he realized a career-long dream by being named head of a sales division, Lincoln-Mercury.
But it was Ford's finance reputation that drew Miskowski - and his M.B.A. from the University of Wisconsin - to Ford Motor Co. in the 1950s. He worked with some of the Whiz Kids, including Edward Lundy and Robert S. McNamara. Miskowski, 71, spoke with David Versical.
Why did you join Ford?
At the beginning, they really understood what financial analysis was. When I was in graduate school, the concept of financial analysis was pretty new - extending the idea of finance well beyond bookkeeping and accounting. The Whiz Kids at Ford had gone into this, and then when the next phase of managers arrived in the late '50s, they knew what financial analysis was.
I had heard all about it in graduate school. Ford was the only one of about 10 places where I interviewed that said exactly: This is what we think financial analysis is. I don't want to go anyplace else.
What did you do for Edward Lundy?
I'd go to his office at about 7:30 in the morning and clip articles from The Wall Street Journal and New York Times so he wouldn't have to read the whole paper.
An M.B.A. was clipping articles?
Well, I knew that was a fast track so I was very happy to do it.
What was he like?
He loved working with the individual. He didn't always call the bosses in; if you were a project manager or something, he would call you in. You got a good feel from him whether you were making it or not. You were given a whole biography of yourself; you kind of knew your whole situation. He was very, very good at that.
You worked long hours?
Oh, yeah. When I was at finance staff, I worked every Friday night because we had a program called, "MM Six" - Mr. McNamara's Monday Morning Marketing Mania. That would be presented to him by 8 every Monday morning, and we worked on it every Friday night. We didn't start working on it until 5 p.m. I was single, and I came home late on Friday nights for a couple of years.
What lessons did you learn from Lundy?
One is: Think analytically. You've got to think in terms of more than the subject at hand; you've got to have peripheral vision and have an idea of what's the next step in anything you are doing. If you went to Lundy with half a story, you'd never get out of there alive. You'd have to have the full story - well beyond your area of responsibility.
The other thing is confidence. Stand up for what you believe in, be forceful in what you believe in, and always have an aura of confidence about you. If you don't have that along the way, you won't make it either.