Guest Speaker Matt Fortin


Alexandra Hendrickson, Matt Fortin, and Dr. Claudia SantinAlexandra Hendrickson, Matt Fortin, and Dr. Claudia Santin

On March 28, Matt Fortin spoke at Concordia-Chicago's College of Business. Matt Fortin is Vice President and President, Global Product Management at W W Grainger. He is responsible for Grainger’s overall product assortment strategy.

Mr. Fortin impressed the student audience with his forthrightness and his interest in them. First he asked everyone in the room to tell him their name, where they came from and their academic major. He remarked on the international nature of the student body. Then he gave succinct advice about how to choose an employer and how to do well in an interview.  Mr. Fortin also spent a lot of time answering student questions about finding a job and building a career.

Mr. Fortin advised students to pick, as their first employer, a successful larger company with established processes and market reputation where the student could learn. An internet start-up may not be the best place for your first job, He said, because it will not give you the chance to get trained in best practices and how to manage and grow a business.Matt Fortin

Research the company before you go for your interview, Mr. Fortin advised, to avoid making the interviewer waste time on basic information.  Always ask questions at the end of the interview. Never tell the interviewer, “I already asked all my questions.” Use the question time to demonstrate your sincere and informed interest in the company.

To succeed in your career, don’t say no when opportunities come your way. They may open doors you never expect. Mr. Fortin described his first job as a young college grad where he oversaw much older union workers at a GM plant in Michigan. While he found the job daunting, he learned management lessons he never forgot. GM later sent him to China as its only American representative before it built a plant there. This gave him his first exposure to working internationally. He went on to spend six years in China with GM and eight years leading Grainger’s China business.

Matt Fortin graduated from the University of Dayton with a bachelor’s degree in Management Information Systems and graduated as a General Motors Fellow with an MBA from Thunderbird, School of Global Management.

Prior to joining Grainger, Mr. Fortin spent 16 years at General Motors progressing through leadership roles in manufacturing, purchasing, continuous improvement, and general management.

Mr. Fortin joined Grainger in 2006 to help start its Lean initiative, taking on roles of increasing responsibility in Supply Chain before building and leading operations in China in 2010. In 2014 he was appointed Vice President Grainger Global Sourcing before being promoted to his current role in 2016.