Leadership

Richard Foster

Strategic Advisor

Co-founder

Mr. Richard O. Foster has more than 30 years of business and international experience.  Richard began his career as part of the MIT Research Staff in 1970 (famous MIT System Dynamics Group), after earning his MSc Degree in Management from the MIT Sloan School of Management and BSc Degree in Electrical Engineering.

 

“System dynamics provides a foundation underlying all subjects. When that foundation is mastered, an individual will have mobility to move from field to field. An MIT undergraduate in electrical engineering demonstrated such mobility. He studied system dynamics during his junior and senior years. When he continued for a master of science degree in electrical engineering, he did his thesis on the way the body handles insulin and glucose in various aspects of diabetes. That may not sound like electrical engineering, but about 10% of such students move on to careers in medicine. He immediately developed a working-colleague relationship with doctors in Boston's research clinic for diabetes because for the first time they were able to put together their fragments of medical knowledge into a meaningful system (Richard O.Foster, MIT Thesis: The dynamics of blood sugar regulation, 1970). But he did not intend to go into medicine. He next worked with me in extending the Urban Dynamicsmodel. For a year, he led discussions with a group from Boston's black community to incorporate many aspects of education into the model. Later he went to work with a corporation. He could move from one setting to another because his fundamental understanding of systems allowed him to provide a dynamic organizing framework to any activity.”

by MIT Professor-Emeritus of Management Jay W. Forrester on Richard O. Foster (in “Learning through System Dynamics as Preparation for the 21st Century”, 1994, Keynote Address at Concord Academy)

From Enceclopedia Britannika: Jay Wright Forrester: U.S. electrical engineer and management expert who invented the random-access magnetic core memory, the information-storage device employed in most digital computers. From the U.S. Inventors Hall of Fame: Jay W. Forrester was a pioneer in early digital computer development and invented random-access, coincident-current magnetic storage, which became the standard memory device for digital computers. While working on the Whirlwind, the world’s largest computer project in the late 1940s and early 1950s, Forrester devised the magnetic core memory storage which replaced the unreliable and short-lived electrostatic tubes which had previously been used. He was awarded the IEEE Medal of Honor in 1972, "For exceptional advances in the digital computer through his invention and application of the magnetic-core random-access memory, employing coincident current addressing." For his work in real-time computer technologies, Forrester was awarded the National Medal of Technology by President Bush in 1989.

 

In 1972 Mr. Foster became a Staff Consultant for General Radio Company. He was instrumental in converting the company from its “roots” as a provider of general-purpose (“one box”) electronic test equipment to in-circuit, functional, and board test systems.

Mr. Foster spent a short tenure with the Communcations Division of Motorola in Schaumburg, Ill. where he was responsible for scheduling production and inventory control for Motorola’s largest division - which manufactured 2-way FM communications equipment.  Significant contributions were made in the arena of profit maximization by recommending the transfer of manufacturing and the implementation of such product manufacturing responsibilities to Malaysia and Puerto Rico (profit improved two-fold).  He also contributed to the start-up of the totally-automated Motorola factory in Ft. Worth, Texas.

In 1981, Mr. Foster went to work for Wiltron Company in Mountain View, California, and was quickly elevated to Director of Manufacturing reporting directly to the President and CEO.  Wiltron Company is a manufacturer of wired and wireless communications (microwave) test equipment, and was acquired by Anritsu Company in Japan in 1989.  Mr. Foster worked at Wiltron until his early retirement in 2002. During the time Richard was there, Wiltron revenues from Morgan Hill grew from less than $20 Million to almost $500 Million. In addition to Mr. Foster’s manufacturing responsibilities, he was also responsible for all Core Engineering and Manufacturing Engineering Activities and one Business Unit. Mr. Foster grew revenues by 82% per year (it more than tripled in size in 2-1/2 years) and made Gross Profits to went from negative to 25% in 2-1/2 years - technically an infinite improvement. Significant contributions included establishing world-wide customer service, construction of all facilities in the Morgan Hill Business Park (over 300,000 sq. ft.), installation of computer and networking systems company-wide, suggested and implementation of a multi-divisional organization structure, improved inventory turnover 40%, re-invented most manufacturing processes to reduce cost, enhance quality, shorten cycle times, and improve delivery. Mr. Foster’s role in training for the entire organization was evidenced by conducting the first and subsequent follow-on Supervisor, Engineer, and Cycle-Time Reduction Training Programs, and implementation of a new Product Development Process (ISO 9001 certified). Wiltron was the first company in Silicon Valley to receive recognition as a “Green (environmentally-responsible) Company”.

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