Praised Wednesday night as the Harvard Business School Club of Wisconsin's 2008 Business Leader of the Year, Timothy Sullivan warned that the United States could become eclipsed by China as a world power.
The president and CEO of Bucyrus International Inc., a South Milwaukee mining equipment manufacturer, said major changes must be made in this country in the next 10 years.
"There is a vast world out there, and we are falling behind very quickly," said Sullivan, whose company does 80% of its business outside the United States.
"We are never going to be able to compete unless we get our house in order" on issues such as education and poverty, he said.
Sullivan joined Bucyrus in 1976 after earning a master's degree in business administration from Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale, Ariz.
He worked his way through many roles at the company including executive vice president of marketing and chief operating officer.
With emphasis on international business, Bucyrus has increased its annual sales from $280 million, in 2000, to about $2.5 billion expected for fiscal 2009.
"He has found markets in every corner of the world," said Gov. Jim Doyle, keynote speaker at the award ceremony at the Pfister Hotel.
Sullivan also is a leader on the civic and charitable scene. He is on the boards of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Milwaukee, Carroll University, Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, United Way of Greater Milwaukee, Milwaukee School of Engineering and other groups.
In 2007, Doyle appointed Sullivan chairman of his Council on Workforce Investment.
He has been an outspoken advocate for making a connection between what's taught in schools and what's needed in the workplace.
He also has been an advocate for students getting real-world experience as part of their education.
"No matter what field you are in, you can't advance without gaining experience," Sullivan said.
In his remarks, Sullivan talked about China as a formidable competitor that doesn't play fair but takes care of its population.
By comparison, he said, the poverty rates in this country are appalling.
"It's simply unacceptable that 25% of the people in Milwaukee live in poverty," Sullivan said.
In his remarks, Doyle addressed some of the state's current economic challenges.
The governor said he will roll back pay increases that state employees were to receive in June.
More than 1,000 state employees will be laid off. All employees, including those in Doyle's office, will be subject to furloughs.
There will be cuts of at least 5% in state government spending, including cuts to school aid, shared revenue and Medicaid.
There are some areas where the governor said he hopes to minimize budget reductions.
"I am going to cut education as little as possible," he said.
The Business Leader of the Year Award, presented by the Harvard Business School Club and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, pays tribute to a state business person who has been a successful and respected leader in business, civic and charitable work.
The club also announced two winners of its scholarship to a management seminar at Harvard University.
They are Joel Brennan, president and CEO of Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin, an educational museum focusing on science, technology and the environment, and Vanessa Claypool, executive director of HeartLove Place, which provides assistance to impoverished Milwaukee families through teaching and mentoring programs.
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