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William Smith

William Smith

Vanderbilt Executive Development Institute

Director, Manufacturing Operations, Firestone Building Products, Indianapolis, IN


Opening His Mind

Operations director learns new ways to operate


Though Vanderbilt is a five-hour drive from William Smith’s office in Indianapolis, he believed the Executive Development Institute was a good opportunity for him.

“I wanted to take a cross-section of classes that, when combined, would improve my effectiveness as a leader in the company,” says Bill, who directs manufacturing operations for Firestone Building Products. “Fortunately, the program is supported by Bridgestone, our parent company and was located where I could also meet with my mentor, and the course offerings were a good fit.

He started with Executive Leadership with Professor Dick Daft. The three-day course, Bill says, not only improved his knowledge but “initiated my desire to dig deeper into several of the areas he covered.

He went on to earn a certificate by completing courses in Thinking Like a CEO, Leadership Coaching, and Finance and Accounting for Non-Accounting Leaders. He found them all challenging, in more ways than one. “Each of the courses caused us as students to challenge the respective subject matter paradigms we may have arrived with,” Bill says. “The courses served to open your mind as to how others might have approached workplace challenges differently and why.”