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Management student holds stage with CEO Michael Dell and Rotman dean

Michael Dell, the chair and chief executive officer of Dell, Inc., joined Rotman School dean Roger Martin and U of T Scarborough business administration student Linda Nguyen onstage at Convocation Hall last week for an informal conversation about computers, business and entrepreneurship.

Hundreds of faculty, staff and students attended the event The extensive question and answer period allowed numerous students in the audience to pose questions to Dell.

“We have a long tradition of welcoming world leaders to our three campuses,” said President David Naylor in his introduction, “and we have with us today one of the legendary individuals in global business.”

Dell, who started his company at 19 with the idea of selling directly to customers, talked about the changing retail landscape in the past decade, a factor that has influenced his company’s strategy. Dell computers are now sold at retailers such as Wal Mart, rather than solely online.

“With 500,000 new users coming onto the Internet daily worldwide, we need many more ways to reach customers,” he said.

Noting that openness to change is essential to remaining successful in business, Dell talked of reintroducing risk into his corporate culture and of doing more research and development, especially on mobile products.

He also expressed pride in his company’s environmental record, saying that their green approach dates back to the 1990s when he challenged his design teams to come up with a recyclable chassis for the computers.

“We’re the first computer company in the world committed to being carbon neutral,” Dell said. “We also offer free [computer] recycling to customers around the world. I’d like to see our competitors do the same.”

When asked what traits were helpful in his entrepreneurial success, Dell cited curiosity and the ability to make mistakes and learn from them.

© University of Toronto Scarborough