“Lifers” To Look Up To

Along life’s path, change is something to be expected all along the way. This not only rings true in personal life, but also in business and vocation. In fact, according to longitudinal statistics information at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in recent years past the average worker held approximately 11 different job positions in their lifetime. Today, this number of lifetime job changes is thought to even be higher.

This said, great respect naturally comes with long tenure and numbers substantially less than those cited above. Even greater respect is due to any individual that stays at the top or works their way there, all within one company. We highlight some of the most elite of this very small, select group; these are Fortune 500 “lifers” – those who only ever worked for one company.

Donald Washkewicz

Washkewicz started at Parker-Hannifin years ago working at the very bottom – working in the grease pit. Today, Washkewicz is the company CEO. He steadily worked his way up over the years and his story resonates with company culture and employees without doubt.

Ken Powell

In 1979, Ken Powell began a long career with General Mills as a basic marketing assistant. Over the years, Powell worked his way up and around the entire General Mills company. He eventually became a sort of brand ambassador overseas and eventually became CEO.

Doug Oberhelman

Oberhelman is said to have always had a love for heavy equipment. According to CNN Money, this was much because of his father’s occupation as a John Deere salesman. Right out of college, Oberhelman found work with Caterpillar as a credit analyst. After years of passion for his company and countless promotions, Doug Oberhelman is now CEO of Caterpillar.

John Strangfeld Jr.

More than 35 years have gone by since John Strangfeld Jr. was hired as a basic investment analyst for Prudential Financial. As the company grew to household-name status, Strangfeld’s tenure and abilities within the company also blossomed. Now sitting as CEO, Strangfeld only claims to have followed the work he enjoys.

Ursula Burns

Today, the globally known company, Xerox, is proudly headed by Ursula Burns. Burns began work with the company doing mechanical engineering by studied trade. She quickly gained attention and climbed the ladder, becoming involved with deep company logistics at all levels. 29 years later, Ursula Burns is known as the very first black woman to serve as CEO at the Fortune 500 level.

Virginia Rometty

In 1981, Virginia Rometty was a fresh graduate of Northwestern, majoring in computer science and electrical engineering. It is also the year in which Rometty began her life-long career at IBM. It wasn’t long before Rometty began gaining rank and working in management. Eventually, she reached the top and is now IBM’s CEO.

In knowing stories like these, there seems to be one common denominator. The individuals in these success stories all have a drive and passion for what they do. Perhaps that age-old saying resounds loud and clear – “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.”