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Frederick W. Smith

chairman, president & ceo, fedex corporation

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New Challengs for CEO's

Speaking at a meeting of Boston College's Chief Executive Club, CEO Frederick W. Smith said companies need to do more to improve security and employee screening in the wake of last year's terrorist attacks. On security, Smith said FedEx and other transportation companies have a special obligation to track all packages and equipment to make sure they aren't misused by terrorists. He also said employees should be given access to the FBI's database so they can avoid hiring people with criminal backgrounds.

On the economy, Smith said he sees continued sluggishness and said recent labor-related problems at West Coast ports have hurt growth. "The economy is tepid at the moment," Smith said to reporters after his prepared remarks. "The dock strike had a bigger effect than people think, and the uncertainties about Iraq have weighed heavily on the economy. I think the economy is growing, but it's simply growing at a lackluster rate."

Smith also suggested that John Biggs, retiring chairman of TIAA-CREF, would make a good replacement for Harvey Pitt as the chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. "Maybe they ought to put Mr. Biggs in there. That would make everyone happy," Smith said. "It's got to be someone who has the total confidence of the investing public."

This story ran in CBS Market Watch on November 6, 2002.