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A Minute With Kevin Rollins, President and COO of Dell

The Harbus recently participated on a conference call with several university newspapers in a conversation with Dell’s President and COO, Kevin Rollins. Rollins, in a candid conversation, spoke about the economy, ethics, technology trends and more.

Kevin Rollins on how the economy has affected Dell: [Our] company fortunately has weathered the economic downturn both in the U.S. and of the world actually quite well. In our most recently reported quarter we had record revenues, record market share and record profits. And I think it’s really because a couple of years we launched on a market share growth strategy just at the time when the market was turning down.

And we also embarked upon an efficiency and cost improvement effort company wide, which really you know, put us in very good stead to kind of weather some of the challenges. So in our business it’s doing very, very well. We still think that the overall industry is in a bit of a slump and has not rebounded from that slump yet. But at Dell we’re still very, very sanguine about the overall possibilities of the company and then still doing quite well.

Kevin Rollins on Diversity at Dell: We believe it’s important because we believe every culture, gender, race, nationality has talent and has something to offer. We just believe that philosophically. And so in trying to tap into each of those groups what we find is that you need to have both an infrastructure, resources capability that can let each of those groups feel comfortable and have the opportunity to succeed in the company.

They form with the various diversity and minority groups to tell us how we can improve the society and the efforts within our company such that they and many more talented people like them can come to Dell and achieve their full potential and feel very good about being here. So that’s one of the things that we’ve been doing lately. Tracking the progress, making sure that everyone who comes to Dell has a path, maybe a mentor and the training necessary to be successful.

Kevin Rollins on the Relationship between Ethics and Company Performance: Well, this is a tough one because you’ve seen over the history of mankind and over the history of companies that there are those who perform well and they’re not very good people. I don’t know why that exists for sure but the correlation between a perfectly ethical company and having tremendous financial performance I think is a fairly spurious one. However we believe at Dell that for our people to be happy, and therefore to perform better, it certainly is a critical element and is a desirable element at any rate. We’ve seen great and ethical companies fail in the financial markets or fail in their business models.

So I don’t think that it’s a cure-all for success. But it certainly is an element that if you have a good strategy, you have a good business model, and you behave ethically, we think that is a great formula. For not only a well performing company financially, but probably more for a happy workforce to feel very good about themselves and about the job they do every day.

May 5, 2003
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