Richard M. Feldt, E’74
Richard M. Feldt has had a wealth of senior-level experience with an array of prominent companies since graduating from Northeastern in 1974 with a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering. But he is quick to admit that the professional and interpersonal skills that he developed during his co-op experiences at New England Medical Center helped lay the cornerstone to his success.
Today, Feldt is the chairman, president, and chief executive officer at Evergreen Solar, a developer and manufacturer of photovoltaic solar wafers, cells, and panels based in Marlboro, Massachusetts. He has previously worked for companies such as Eastman Kodak, A. T. Cross, and Symbol Technologies.
“My experiences at New England Medical Center were quite good,” he said. “I worked for an excellent mentor who oversaw the engineering department there. I was able to work on some great projects and was given a fair amount of autonomy.
“I learned to manage projects effectively and to make clear presentations to senior executives. The projects I worked on were substantive and well received, and the hospital implemented many of the changes recommended. As a result, I gained a good deal of confidence.
“There are ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ skills needed to do one’s job. The hard skills, like finite element analysis or statistical process control, are a basic requirement, without which, one cannot do their job. The soft skills include how you work with people, how you develop camaraderie, how you influence people’s thinking and win their confidence.
“I didn’t fully realize it then, but I’ve come to appreciate that those skills are more important to long-term success than the hard skills. Most people have the hard skills. If you don’t have the soft skills then you’re probably going to limit yourself.”