Batten Institute

Ronald L. Kerber

Background

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Bio: Ron Kerber is an experienced executive with a successful record of leading and growing domestic and global businesses. His leadership responsibilities have included innovation, product development, cost reduction, and profitability in diverse, global organizations. He currently splits his time among a variety of entrepreneurial and pro bono activities as president of SBDC, a small consulting firm, visiting professor at Darden School of Business, and member of the Department of Defense Science Board.

During ten years as executive vice president and chief technology officer at Whirlpool, Mr. Kerber had line responsibility for global product development and global procurement, and P&L responsibility for three global businesses: microwave ovens, air conditioners, and compressors. He also served as vice president of advanced technology and business development at McDonnell Douglas and as deputy undersecretary of defense for research and advanced technology and as a program manager at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in the Department of Defense.

Before beginning his business career, Mr. Kerber was a professor of electrical and mechanical engineering and associate dean of graduate studies and research at Michigan State University. He has published more than 60 technical articles and is the recipient of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service, the Michigan State University Teacher Scholar Award, the Purdue University Distinguished Engineering Alumni, and Outstanding Aerospace Engineer Award. He was a NASA Fellow at the California Institute of Technology.

He received his B.S. degree from Purdue University and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in engineering science from the California Institute of Technology.

Expertise: Corporate Product Creation 

Research

Fellowship Focus: During his Batten Fellowship, Ron Kerber will collaborate with his Faculty Host, Tim Laseter, to write a book on managing new product development, perhaps the most critical activity in business today. The traditional approach to this subject has been to focus on a stage-gate development process. Although establishing a formal process is important, Mr. Kerber and Professor Laseter’s experience has shown that integrating new product development into a company’s culture is even more important. Every company has a host of formal processes and informal attitudes that influence their innovation effectiveness. Few companies adequately link new product development to strategic, financial, and operational planning processes, or systematically engage all functional organizations in the company. This book, targeted to senior executives, will highlight such critical issues and present successful approaches in managing innovation for a global market.

The authors will draw on Kerber’s experiences at Whirlpool and McDonnell Douglas as well his work in government, consulting, and academia. They will also conduct field research to develop case examples from such industries as software and pharmaceuticals. In addition to producing the book manuscript, Kerber and Laseter will prepare one or two papers based on their field research. During his fellowship, Kerber will also teach a course on new product development, speak in the operations strategy course co-taught by Laseter and Ed Davis, and host a series of student lunches.

Contact Info

Email: ronaldkerber@aol.com

Appointment: 2004–2005

Publications & News

Book:

Strategic Product Creation: Deliver Customer Satisfaction from Every Level of Your Company (co-author Timothy M. Laseter with Max Russell)

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