When two of Michigan State University’s dynamic colleges partner with the Detroit Spartans for an event, the energy electrifies a venue.

On Thursday, October 5, the Eli Broad College of Business and MSU College of Engineering joined forces with the alumni organization for the 52nd annual Detroit Executive Forum, held at the Henry Ford Museum.

Sanjay Gupta, dean of the Broad College, and Leo Kempel, dean of the College of Engineering, opened the evening by welcoming over 200 Spartans and shining a spotlight on the tremendous impact the university’s community has had on Detroit’s resurgence.

A speech is given at the Detroit Executive Forum.

Simon and Hacket discussed MSU’s decades-long partnerships with Ford, as well as topics related to industry disruption, diversity, and innovation.

“From some of the world’s largest companies to start-up ventures and artisans, major projects are in motion for the city of Detroit—many of which, Spartans are leading. New jobs are being created every day; jobs we didn’t know existed a few years ago. Few better to fill these excited roles than Spartans who are ready to make business happen,” he said.

Jim Hackett, chief executive officer of Ford Motor Company, served as the evening’s guest speaker. Shifting from the forum’s format of a traditional keynote speech, Hackett welcomed MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon to the stage for an open discussion to address important issues for the city of Detroit, MSU, the alumni community, and businesses.

Hackett began his career with Procter & Gamble in Detroit, then moving to Steelcase in Grand Rapids. He was a member of Ford’s Board of Directors before his appointment to CEO in May of 2017, and served on the auto giant’s Sustainability and Innovation Committee and the Audit and the Nominating and Governance committees.

Simon and Hackett discussed technology disruptions in the industry, diversity creating the “workforce of tomorrow,” and delved into the MSU-Ford partnership. “MSU works with employers like Ford to develop the kinds of graduates they want to hire, and Ford has consistently been one of MSU’s top recruiting partners. Ford sponsors dozens of MSU programs and research projects, underscoring the important relationship industry and academic share,” Simon said.

Hackett’s forward-thinking vision for Ford’s future left the crowd feeling excited to see what comes next—which could include anything from innovation through electric or autonomous cars, to strategic workforce changes that will enhance productivity.

You can view photos from the evening on Broad’s Flickr site.