Jeffrey Berg ’79, MEng ’80, MBA ’81
Recipient of the 2010 Samuel C. Johnson Distinguished Service Award
Jeffrey Berg is director emeritus at PRTM Management Consultants. Since his retirement in 2004, he has focused his considerable skills and energy on volunteer efforts, including unstinting efforts on behalf of Johnson and Cornell. He believes that each individual has specific talents and skills, which they should apply not only in building a career, but also afterwards, in identifying unique ways to give back to their community. He walks his talk.
Berg is co-chair of the Alumni Affairs and Development Committee of the Johnson Advisory Council, chair of the Cornell Adult University Advisory Board, and a board member of eCornell. In addition, he is a board member of the Cornell Association of Class Officers, vice chair of Cornell’s major gifts committee, and a foremost benefactor of Cornell. Berg has served on Cornell’s board of trustees and as Cornell Class of ’79 president. In addition to his Cornell activities, he is summer camp promotion and finance chair for Westchester-Putnam Council of the Boy Scouts and is fundraising chair at Jewish Family Congregation.
In his volunteer work, Berg draws on many of the skills gained and tailored through his professional work. He has organized and managed a number of complex projects in every one of his current commitments. Some of these are change management projects; others are focused on raising money for these organizations. His approach is to take a difficult problem, figure out how to break it down into smaller tasks, parcel these out to dozens of people to get the most successful outcome, then coordinate them so the overall project is successfully completed.
It’s an approach Berg honed over the course of a career in which he regularly dealt with complex business situations by gathering all the relevant details, analyzing the data, and identifying clear approaches to move forward. For example, one memorable project he recalls was PRTM’s first consulting project for the Department of Defense. “We did a major project for the U.S. Navy on how they were managing spare parts to support jet fighters. One of the biggest challenges on this project was determining how material could be made ‘visible’ on an automated basis across supply chain partners so as to minimize new parts procured, while rapidly moving repairable parts from aircraft to repair facility and back to aircraft."
During his nearly 25 years with PRTM, Berg was COO, lead director of the Industrial and Process Technologies business group, and lead director for the Operations Excellence practice. Berg was also responsible for starting PRTM’s European operations. He was a founding director of the Performance Measurement Group, PRTM’s benchmarking subsidiary. Prior to PRTM, Berg worked for Exxon, Arthur Andersen and Xerox.
Berg’s offers Johnson students the following advice for achieving successful, fulfilling careers:
- Find an opportunity that you can really passionately sink your teeth into. You’re going to have to work hard in any job, and there’s nothing worse than working 12, 16, even 18 hours a day in an organization that you don’t like.
- Get international experience. Live overseas for as long as you can.
- Start your own company, become a partner in a business, or buy a piece of an existing company. Find a way to work so you’re building equity/value for yourself in a business in which you’re an owner.