TopVet: Michael Jordan, EDS

US Navy Vet Michael Jordan

Life has come full circle for Michael Jordan, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of tech services giant EDS. After college, the young Jordan served a four-year tour of duty with the U.S. Navy on the staff of Admiral Hyman Rickover.

Now, at the helm of EDS, not only is he managing a critical turnaround of the company’s fortunes, but he is also strengthening a strategic integration effort for the U.S. Navy.

Turnarounds and transformations seem to be a specialty for Jordan. Throughout most of the 1990s, Jordan is credited with reshaping the former Westinghouse Electric Corporation, acquiring media conglomerate CBS, streamlining business units and conducting asset sales of the companies. At the time he was named chief executive of EDS in 2003, Jordan was also served for 10 years as a board member of Dell Inc., a position he later relinquished to focus fully on the EDS position.

Before joining Westinghouse, Jordan was a partner with Clayton, Dubilier and Rice, one of the oldest and most respected private investment firms in the world. Before that, he spent 18 years with PepsiCo, Inc. During this time, he served in numerous senior executive positions, including CFO of PepsiCo, Inc. and president and CEO of PepsiCo WorldWide Foods, which includes Frito-Lay. From 1964 to 1974, he was a consultant and principal with McKinsey & Company.

Jordan is an angel investor as well as a member of several private equity firms. He currently serves as chairman of eOriginal Inc., an electronic commerce company that provides unique, authentic and secure Electronic Original TM documents, a legal alternative to blue-ink signed original paper documents. Previously, he was a general partner of Global Asset Capital, LLC, a venture capital firm focused on making private equity investments in the telecommunications, Internet infrastructure, data networking and information technology sectors. He was also a partner of Beta Capital Group, LLC of Dallas, Texas. From 1999 to 2001, he served as chairman of Luminant Worldwide Corporation, an Internet services company.

Turning around the EDS ship

Speaking about EDS as a whole, Jordan recently contested the notion that EDS is in financial trouble. "This is far from the case. I’ve been in a financial turnaround, and this is very different. This is a managerial turnaround," he said. "We’re very confident in our ability to turn around this ship very quickly."

In 2004, EDS top management will focus on fixing outstanding problems, and Jordan expects EDS to move to a growth strategy in 2005 and beyond. "We’re going from an unleveraged company to one that’s highly leveraged, from an unfocused one to one that’s highly aligned," he said.

Tech Turnaround at the Navy and Marines, too

EDS said earlier this month that the Navy has agreed to changes that will reduce the cost of building and operating a new communications network for the Navy and Marine Corps. The $8.8 billion contract has been a money loser for EDS, as upfront costs to install the network have far exceeded payments by the Navy.

EDS expected to encounter a few thousand older legacy applications that would need to be upgraded to meet Navy security requirements in the new system. Instead, the company discovered nearly 100,000 such applications, adding to the cost and complexity of the job. The Navy has reduced the number of legacy applications to about 30,000 -- still far above its goal of 3,000.

Not mincing words, Jordan calls the project, inked before his tenure (in 2000), "the elephant in the living room."

"This contract was a mess," he said during a meeting with financial analysts in New York this past February. "Now we have a very solid plan and are executing against it," although the company has yet to predict when the deal with the Navy will become profitable.

Education and Personal

In addition to his professional and investment roles, Jordan is chairman of the National Foreign Trade Council; a trustee of The Brookings Institution; a member and former chairman of the U.S.-Japan Business Council; a member and former chairman of the United Negro College Fund; a member of The Business Council; a member of the board of trustees of the United States Council for International Business; a member of the Business Roundtable; and a director of Viventures, the former investment fund of Vivendi. He also serves on the boards of Aetna Inc. and several smaller, privately held companies.

Jordan received his Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering from Yale University and a Master of Science degree in chemical engineering from Princeton University.

Jordan is married to Hilary Cecil of New York City.

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