Engibous, Thomas J. 1953–
Thomas J. Engibous
Chairman, Texas Instruments Incorporated
Born: January 31, 1953, in St. Louis, Missouri.
Education: Purdue University, BS, 1975; MS, 1976.
Family: Son of James (research scientist) and Emma Buck; married Wendy (maiden name unknown); children: three.
Career: Texas Instruments, 1976–1980, design engineer, semiconductor group; 1980–1986, department manager, semiconductor group; 1986–1991, vice president, semiconductor group; 1991–1993, senior vice president, semiconductor group; 1993–1996, executive vice president, semiconductor group; 1996–1998, president and chief executive officer; 1998–2004, president, chief executive officer, and chairman; 2004–, chairman.
Awards: Distinguished Engineering Alumnus award, Purdue University, 1990; honorary Doctor of Engineering degree, Purdue University, 1997; listed among the Top 25 Executives of the Past 25 Years, Electronic Business, 2000; listed among the Top 25 Managers, BusinessWeek, 2000.
■ Thomas J. Engibous developed his reputation as a top leader in the semiconductor group at Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI). He became the company's president and chief executive officer in 1996 and its chairman in 1998. Under his direction, TI changed from a broad-based conglomerate into a semiconductor company with a major worldwide presence. Engibous, who stepped down as the company's president and CEO in 2004, was known for his aggressive business strategies and plain-spoken management style.
A COMPETITIVE SPIRIT
Engibous grew up in Mount Prospect, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, as the son of a research scientist. He developed his competitive spirit in such sports as baseball and wrestling and remained an avid sports fan as an adult. Engibous discovered an interest in engineering in high school when he constructed a digital computer that could add numbers.
Engibous enrolled at Purdue University in West LaFayette, Indiana, after graduating from high school. He continued to participate in athletics as an undergraduate by playing on the Purdue hockey team. He graduated with a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering in 1975. Engibous then enrolled in Purdue's graduate school, earning a master of science degree in electrical engineering in 1976. In 1997, nearly two decades after concluding his formal education, Purdue awarded Engibous an honorary doctorate in engineering in recognition of his success at Texas Instruments.
Engibous learned early in his career that leadership skills are as important in engineering as technical abilities. When he was designated a Distinguished Engineering Alumnus by Purdue in 1990, Engibous told the graduate students, "Remember that once you've graduated you will be required to make decisions—and there's a big difference between having a sound technical background and having the capacity to make sound technical decisions. The first doesn't necessarily lead to the second. It's the decision-making aspect that takes time to learn after graduation" (February 24, 1997).
WORKING AT TEXAS INSTRUMENTS
Texas Instruments hired Engibous immediately after he received his graduate degree from Purdue in 1976 and assigned him to the semiconductor group as a design engineer. Four years later he was promoted to department manager, a position he held until 1986. As department manager, he oversaw the worldwide operations of the semiconductor group, including the development of new technologies. He continued his rise within the company in 1991, when he was appointed vice president of the semiconductor group. He was later promoted to the position of senior vice president.
After Engibous had spent 17 years in various management positions in the semiconductor group, his leadership qualities were further rewarded when he was named executive vice president in charge of the group. He quickly developed a reputation as a fierce competitor. His years at the head of the semiconductor group were highly successful, as Texas Instruments gained market share each year while the group produced record profits for the company. Engibous improved the semiconductor group's efficiency by focusing on the development of specialized computer chips rather than the production of standard memory chips to make money for TI.
A SURPRISING CHOICE
Texas Instruments underwent troubling times in 1996, when chip prices fell and caused the company's net income to drop sharply. In addition, the company lost its leader that June when James R. Junkins, the company's president, chief executive officer, and chairman died suddenly. Unfortunately, the company had not groomed an immediate successor at the time of Junkins's death. Two vice chairmen, William P. Weber and William B. Mitchell, assumed Junkins's duties. Both candidates resembled Junkins in their management styles; moreover, TI was considered a conservative and cautious company.
The company thus made a bold move when it promoted Engibous, who was then 43 years old, to serve as its president and chief executive officer. Engibous's ambitious and intense style stood in stark contrast to that of Junkins, who favored a more easygoing approach. The company named James R. Adams, a former group president of SBC Communications, as the board president. Adams maintained that Engibous was the right choice to lead TI. "He is the right man to be leading Texas Instruments into its long-term future," Adams said of Engibous (June 21, 1996).
REFOCUSING THE COMPANY
Engibous was widely credited with shifting the focus of Texas Instruments. The company had been known as a broadbased conglomerate prior to 1996, but Engibous turned TI into a semiconductor company. Texas Instruments sold several of its divisions between 1996 and 1998, including its custom manufacturing and notebook computer businesses, its defense electronics operation, and its enterprise applications software. The company's semiconductor business soared throughout much of the late 1990s. By 2000 Texas Instruments controlled nearly half of the $4.4 billion worldwide market for digital signal processors, which were used for such devices as modems and cellular phones.
Engibous was hailed for his assertive management style. In addition to constant travel, he was known to rise before 4 a.m. in order to address business matters with employees and customers. He took advantage of his background in athletics by using sports metaphors in his speeches. Although his plans were often bold, he maintained a straightforward personal manner and generally avoided wearing neckties.
Although TI benefited from Engibous's style of leadership, the market for memory chips fluctuated. The company's income fell off during several quarters in the late 1990s and early 2000s, leading to a series of layoffs. At the same time, however, TI's growth had a significant positive impact on the economy of the Dallas area, as the company constructed a state-of-theart semiconductor factory north of the city.
After eight years as the head of Texas Instruments, Engibous stepped down as president and chief executive officer in 2004, much to the surprise of industry analysts. The transition from Engibous to his successor, longtime company employee Richard K. Templeton, was planned although it came sooner than analysts had expected. Engibous remained as chairman of the board. In addition to his position at Texas Instruments, he served as chairman of the board of Catalyst Semiconductor Incorporated as well as a trustee of Southern Methodist University, a member of the Purdue University Visiting Committee, and a member of several civic and company boards, including the board of directors of the J. C. Penney Company.
See also entry on Texas Instruments Incorporated in International Directory of Company Histories.
sources for further information
Goldstein, Alan, and Jim Mitchell, "TI Names President, Chairman," Dallas Morning News, June 21, 1996.
Harrison, Crayton, "Swap at Top for TI," Dallas Morning News, January 16, 2004.
McWilliams, Gary, "A 20-Year Man for Texas Instruments," BusinessWeek, July 8, 1996, p. 42.
Myerson, Allen R., "Texas Instruments Passes Over Two in Picking Chief," New York Times, June 21, 1996.
"1990 Distinguished Engineering Alumni: Thomas J. Engibous," Purdue University, http://www.ecn.purdue.edu/ECN/DEA/1990/Thomas_J_Engibous.
"Special Report: The Top 25 Managers," BusinessWeek, January 10, 2000, p. 74.
—Matthew C. Cordon