Ray Stata is co-founder of Analog Devices, Inc., based in Norwood, Massachusetts. As of 2009, ADI serves over 60,000 customers, has 9,000 employees and a market capitalization of over $6 billion. Mr. Stata received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from MIT. He served as ADI’s CEO from 1971 to 1996 and is currently chairman of the board. We met with Mr. Stata in Norwood to explore his thoughts on bootstrapping a start-up, leadership in innovative companies, and the challenges and opportunities of globalization.
Kaizen: You were injured playing basketball in high school in Pennsylvania, and that led to your going to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology?
Stata: Right. It was quite fortuitous that I jammed myself in a wall and injured my neck. So I ended up in a hospital for several days—in traction. Next to me there was an elderly gentleman who had spent his career as an engineer. By that time, as a sophomore in high school, I already was thinking about engineering as a career. I didn’t know much about engineering or anything about engineering schools. So I used this opportunity to quiz this guy. He told me a lot about what engineers do and about the best engineering schools.
What came out loud and clear was, “If you want to become an engineer and get an engineering education, there’s really only one place to consider, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.” He said, “Just focus on MIT and go there; it’s the best.” I had never heard of MIT, but when I returned home I started reading up on MIT and set my sights on going there.