Manufacturing Innovation

Bill Muir expects the manufacturing industry to undergo a significant transformation in the coming years. Those firms unprepared for this seismic shift will be left in the dust.

That seems like an unlikely scenario for Jabil, a global leader in electronic manufacturing services and solutions, where Muir serves as Chief Operating Officer. Jabil’s commitment to innovation and Muir’s leadership have the St. Petersburg-based company poised for the future. Muir (BSIE ’92, MBA ’92) will be the featured guest at tonight’s UF MBA’s Critical Issues in Business Series at 6:30 p.m. at Hough Hall.

Muir’s relentless drive to succeed was instilled in him at young age. A first-generation Cuban raised in Miami, Muir was taught the value of hard work and to take advantage of the opportunities living in the U.S. presented, especially regarding education.

“There was a great level of focus and investment by my parents on providing us the best education possible,” Muir said. “When you see your parents make personal sacrifices so you can have a better life, you learn to not take too many things for granted.”

Muir excelled in science and math, and pursued a bachelor’s degree in engineering at UF. He complemented his technical expertise with the UF MBA.

“Certainly I walked out of there with a financial baseline I didn’t have before,” Muir said. “It was an exceptional experience. Like any good program, it teaches you to think, question things beyond the surface and challenge assumptions.”

It also introduced him to Jabil. In a moment of serendipity, Muir happened to be in UF MBA’s office the same day Jabil recruiters were visiting the program.

“Honestly, I knew nothing about them. The company’s name caught my eye,” Muir said. “There was an absolute intensity they conveyed about the business that was really appealing—a positive environment, the opportunity to advance not because of seniority, but because of what you’ve done, and an environment where you let ideas win.”

That nurturing atmosphere, along with being in an industry that was about to explode in the Internet Age, has guided Jabil to impressive heights. When Muir began his Jabil career as a Quality Engineer in 1992, the company had operations in three states with annual revenues around $200 million. Now, Jabil is an $18 billion company with 90 facilities in 24 countries.

And Muir has been vital to the company’s success, especially its growth internationally. He held leadership positions for Jabil’s Operations in the Americas before assuming the role of Senior Vice President and Regional President, Asia—a newly created position based in Shanghai where he led all operations, regional business development and human resources. Later, he moved to Singapore as the Executive Vice President, Chief Executive Officer of Jabil’s Global Manufacturing Services, the company’s $14 billion core. Muir was named COO in 2013.

The company’s newest innovation is its Blue Sky Center, a 100,000-square-foot facility in the heart of Silicon Valley that houses prototyping labs, a supply chain command center and product conceptualization and product design space among other features. If Jabil wasn’t a household name already, this sparkling new facility will certainly raise its profile.

“It’s very different from a traditional manufacturing facility,” Muir said. “It represents a sincere desire to spend time and collaborate with our customers where we can challenge ourselves, innovate, and be much more productive.”

Despite his busy schedule, Muir relishes the opportunity to share his insights and experiences with UF MBA students. And he benefits from the experience as well.

“I get a ton of energy interacting with them,” Muir said. “They’re the generation that’s defining what technology will look like 10 or 15 years now. It’s important to know how they’re thinking about the world.”