Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering (IMSE) held its annual IMSE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony virtually on Friday, Oct. 23. Five new inductees were enshrined into its hall of fame, which was established in 2008.
IMSE Hall of Fame members are selected through nominations. Members are Mizzou industrial engineering graduates whose careers have significantly impacted their field and/or made outstanding contributions to the department.
“It is exciting to be able to induct five more amazing individuals to the IMSE Hall of Fame this year,” IMSE department chair James Noble said. “The inductees come from wide range of industries where they have been leaders and have contributed to advancing the application of industrial engineering principles for the betterment of their organization and ultimately society.”
The biographies of each inductee are below in alphabetical order:
Engineering and Marketing are two departments that don’t often overlap in a firm, let alone exist within one person. With a background in Industrial Engineering (Mizzou 1985) and an MBA (Washington University in St. Louis 1989), Cindy has put her education to work for the telecommunications, electric utility, alternative energy, architecture, engineering, and construction industries. As CannonDesign’s St. Louis office Business Development Leader, Cindy is currently focused on developing new client relationships, creating and executing client engagement strategies, and supporting the firm’s national business growth efforts for architecture and engineering services.
Remarkably active in the community, Cindy serves as the immediate past Board President for the Kirkwood School District Foundation, a mentor and Special Activities Chair for the Griffiths Leadership Society for Women at Mizzou, a LEED Green Associate, and a member of the St. Louis Women’s Forum and local chapters of CREW and the Urban Land Institute, where she serves in various committee and leadership roles.
A mother of four (three Mizzou grads and a current senior) Cindy is dynamic leader with strong roots in St. Louis. She has a long record of technical marketing and business development success and is passionate about the region’s future.
I came to Mizzou in 1972 from junior college in Sedalia, Mo. When I first heard about industrial engineering, it sounded much more interesting than my initial plan to pursue mechanical engineering at Rolla. Industrial engineering was the perfect choice for me and the education I received at Mizzou was the foundation of my career and professional accomplishments.
My 36-year career at Hallmark Cards began in 1974 as an industrial engineer and then as industrial engineering manager in the distribution division. I then moved to the product division of Hallmark to manage inventory, forecasting, scheduling and finance for various business units. I also established a new retail logistics organization to link internal distribution functions to our retail partner’s warehousing and store operations. From there I ventured to a completely different role in long-range strategic planning for our core business. Finally, one of the most rewarding times was with Hallmark.com, the e-commerce and internet marketing side of the business. We were an entrepreneurial group that made up the rules as we went and established the internet presence for the company in the early 2000s.
My professional organization involvement included the Strategic Leadership Forum, the Council of Logistics Management and the Kansas City chapter of the Institute of Industrial Engineers. I was also a registered professional engineer in Missouri. I have always felt the need to share my gifts as a volunteer in organizations where I have a special connection. This has been the case with a local blood donor center, our church, Boy Scouts and the youth ministry we have supported for many years. And now in retirement, volunteering remains an important way to share my gifts.
I will always look back on my industrial engineering college experience at Mizzou as a primary contributor to a rewarding career and professional life made up of many diverse and interesting roles along the way.
Charles H. (“Chuck”) McElroy grew up in Chesterfield, Mo., and after his graduation from Parkway Central High School in 1974, he graduated from the University of Missouri with a BS in industrial engineering in 1978. Chuck began his career at Southwestern Bell, where he helped form its new holding company, SBC Corporation (now AT&T) and guide the company’s strategic entry into media acquisitions. During this time, Chuck attended Washington University in St. Louis, Mo. where he obtained an MBA in 1984.
Chuck joined Cox Communications in Atlanta, Georgia in 1994 where he pioneered cable’s entry into two-way communication services, launching highspeed data, voice communications, and digital video. As Vice President, he also established and ran a new commercial business unit, Cox Business Services, growing it to become the nation’s largest commercial sales and operations among US cable companies. Chuck then joined Charter Communications in 2003 as their Senior Vice President-Southeast Operations, growing the division to become the company’s largest with more than two billion dollars in annual revenue.
In July 2007, Chuck became the Chief Executive Officer of China Network Systems (CNS), Taiwan’s largest cable operator, located in Taipei, Taiwan. During Chuck’s five and a half years there, he led CNS to double-digit growth each year, outpacing all other Taiwanese cable operators. After returning to the US, Chuck became the Chief Executive Office of Deep Fiber Solutions, a non-traditional network construction company located in Roswell, Georgia in August 2017.
Chuck retired in October 2018 and along with his wife, Lori, make their home in Johns Creek, Georgia. Chuck serves on three non-profit boards and is active in both his church and in his community. Chuck and Lori have three married adult children and two grandchildren. Chuck and Lori enjoy traveling, hiking, playing golf, music, and spending time with family.
Luis Occeña (Honorary Hall of Fame member)
Luis Occeña earned his BS in industrial management engineering with a minor in chemical engineering at De La Salle University in the Philippines, his master’s in industrial engineering and operations research at Virginia Tech, and finally his PhD in industrial engineering from Purdue University. In 1987 he joined the Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering at MU as a tenure-track assistant professor. In the late 80’s, manufacturing was booming, and MU, like other engineering schools, was focused on growing its manufacturing curriculum.
When Occeña asked Dr. Michael Leonard, the department chair at the time, how long he had been in the department, Leonard replied, “Twelve years.” Occeña thought that was a really long time to be in one place. This year, Occeña will have been a faculty member at MU for 33 years!
While he does not have any degree from the MU IMSE department, Occeña believes 33 years is long enough to qualify him as a Mizzou Tiger and a bona fide member of the department. Department graduates in the last 13 years will attest that the final question Occeña asks them during their exit interview is always the same: “In the future, maybe fifteen or twenty years from now, will you help this department?”
Occeña served the department as chair from 2007 to 2020 and he helped found the IMSE Hall of Fame, which was celebrated for the first time in 2008 with the 50th anniversary of the academic program. In that first class of inductees to the Hall of Fame, there were ten members.
Occeña currently serves as an associate professor and interim director of graduate studies for IMSE. He is a member of the Alpha Pi Mu Honor Society and a senior member of the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, the American Society for Engineering Education and the Forest Products Society. He continues to teach and research on topics related to manufacturing, food systems, educational curriculum, and healthcare.
Occeña and his wife Kathleen have been blessed with three grown children and five grandchildren. They are active in their faith, enjoy visiting with family, and still run marathons.
Mike Salerno grew up in Kansas City, Mo. and graduated from Winnetonka High School in May 1980. He attended the University of Missouri from 1980 to 1984. During this time, he made the Dean’s List seven times and was a member of Tau Beta Pi. He graduated with a degree in industrial and manufacturing systems engineering in December 1984.
Mike went to work for McDonnell Douglas Corporation (MDC) in St. Louis in the Aerospace & Defense industry right in the middle of what was later known as the “Reagan Build-up” of the 1980s. He began in the US Navy’s Harpoon Missile program as a cost estimator, and after over three years, he was assigned to support the Tomahawk Cruise Missile program.
In 1989 Mike was named a first-line manager in the Estimating & Pricing organization. Mike earned an MBA degree from Washington University in St. Louis in 1990. In the 1990s, several other management assignments followed in various finance-related functions including Manager of Financial Planning & Analysis for Boeing’s entire defense business and a 1998 stint in Boeing’s Executive Development Program.
In 2000, Mike was promoted to Senior Business Manager for the Logistics Support Services sub-division of Boeing’s defense business. This was the first of many assignments for the rest of Mike’s career where he was responsible for managing and leading the entire Finance organization for various business entities in the company. These responsibilities included bidding and negotiating contracts, managing contract budgets and schedule performance as well as managing aggregate financial performance of the business portfolio. In 2003, Mike was promoted to Boeing’s executive ranks.
Mike relocated with his family to San Antonio, Texas in May 2003 as Division CFO for Boeing’s Airplane Maintenance / Repair / Overhaul (MRO) business and spent 6 years there before returning to St. Louis in 2009 as Division CFO for the Missiles and Unmanned Systems portfolio. Many more assignments followed, with responsibilities spanning the breadth of Boeing’s defense and space business. He is now the CFO of Boeing’s Phantom Works R&D division, where he has been heavily involved in the capture of multiple new franchise programs.
Mike and his wife Mary have been happily married since 1988. They have two children – Connor and Libby (Mizzou ’20 graduate) – both of whom now also work for Boeing. Mike is retiring from Boeing in December 2020, and he and Mary plan to travel, pursue outside interested, enjoy their family and friends, and return to San Antonio for their retirement.