Think Global, Act Local
The more things change, the more Richard "Dick" Koplitz remains the same. He has worked for several high-profile companies, switched industries mid-career and experienced first-hand the effect of consolidation on the book publishing world. Yet, regardless of the setting, he goes about his business—
negotiating procurement contracts, that is—in an equally efficient and effective manner.
Colleagues and suppliers de-scribe him as tough, but fair. He's respected for his honesty, business acumen and straight-shooting style —as well as for always acting in his employer's best interests. Now, as senior vice president of global sourcing for Pearson Inc., Koplitz continues to demonstrate the art of the procurement deal.
The road to the Hall
Koplitz's road to the Production Executives' Hall of Fame has taken quite a few turns. After graduating with honors from the Bernard M. Baruch School of Business in New York, Koplitz began his professional career in the broadcast industry.
He worked for Visual Electronics, an equipment supplier, then joined the National Broadcasting Company (NBC). He ran NBC's purchasing program for seven years before moving on to a similar position at the American Broadcasting Company (ABC). At both television networks, he was instrumental in negotiating major contracts and managing their procurement departments.
By 1985, Koplitz had grown weary of this battle of the network stars and was hungry for new challenges. He was hired by publisher Simon & Schuster as vice president of purchasing. According to Koplitz, the transition from the broadcast industry to publishing was uncomplicated. "The skills are transferable," he says. "I just had to learn a new business. Fortunately, I had good teachers."
From his first year with Simon & Schuster, Koplitz achieved significant savings. He enhanced expenditure efficiency by organizing best-practice, team-driven cost reduction programs. Koplitz also formed a number of key industry alliances early on, and has fostered those relationships ever since.