When Fairchild Industries Chairman of the Board Edward G. Uhl was meeting last year with two winners of one of the company's student awards, one of the students said he imagined that a corporation the size of Fairchild would have a profit margin of about 25 percent per year.
Uhl responded, telling the student that Fairchild is lucky to realize a 5 percent profit in a year. But now, he says that conversation planted the seed that grew into the Fairchild Industries Junior Board of Directors, which is composed of 12 Montgomery County high school students.
"Out of this lack of understanding, Fairchild put together a program for people in high school," Uhl said. The three-month program is intended to give the student directors a chance to learn first-hand the operations of a large corporation.
After being selected from a field of 52 applicants, the young directors were named to the board last Wednesday at a ceremony at the aerospace manufacturer's Germantown offices.
Student applicants were screened by school officials and then interviewed by Fairchild officials and outside consultants before the 12 finalists were chosen. Students were selected on basis of their scholastic activities, work experience, student government involvement or community activities such as church or youth groups. They were also judged on their "business sense or involvement in economic classes at school so they can bring back what they learn at Fairchild to their classes," said Richard Gardiner, Fairchild's manager of visual communications and coordinator of the program.
For Paul W. Cobb Jr., a senior at Col. Zadock Magruder High School, being a member of the junior board is a chance "to find out about something I really never understood, how corporations make decisions and that's what we'll be learning."
Uhl said the junior board members will participate in "the annual shareholders meeting and a board of directors meeting, and spend one day a week being briefed by various people in the company." The student directors will each receive 50 shares of Fairchild stock worth about $500 which cannot be cashed in for four years.
The junior board of directors is the first step in a three-part program that Fairchild has launched to familiarize the community with the workings of a large corporation.