Kenneth Hopper - Experiential Research Sources

Experiential Research Sources

Hopper attended “public” schools in Glasgow, graduating in 1942. During college, he worked one summer as a “production chaser” in the Cathcart Pump works and another in G & J Weir—a young man with a wheelbarrow fetching parts from remote departments, as he describes it. This also gave him the opportunity to visit many areas of the works and observe first-hand the practical problems of major manufacturers. He matriculated at Glasgow University, the premiere British training ground for technology. Upon graduation in 1946, he earned First Class Honours in Mechanical Engineering, Glasgow University.

Pending graduation, he had enlisted in the British Army’s Signal Corps Officer Training Corps, but when he reported for duty in 1946, he was "demobbed" along with other World War II servicemen. However, this brief contact with the world of radio electronics stimulated an interest in that field that flowed naturally into his later studies of the Civil Communications Section seminars. These post-war seminars were designed by the American occupation for Japanese electronics manufacturers, as there was a considerable need to keep the Japanese population informed of America’s postwar reconstruction efforts there. Mr Hopper also observed that innovations such as radar, penicillin, and the jet engine came from English inventors, but each of these was turned to another nation, often America, for manufacturing. This was blatantly obvious during the war when fleets of merchant vessels had to be employed to bring parts back to Great Britain that could have been made on the island kingdom, a tragic story of submarine warfare that Hopper heard from P&G’s principle fitter. Radar’s refinement from a non-directional to a directional scanning device, for instance, came from the Bell Laboratories of Summit, New Jersey, USA. So, Mr. Hopper entered the manufacturing phase of his career with a keen awareness of the need for understanding how industries evolved innovative practices.

Mr. Hopper served a graduate apprenticeship at Metropolitan-Vickers from 1946 to 1948, in Manchester, England, then worked for Procter & Gamble (UK) from 1948 to 1957. There he was engineer in charge on the start-up of P&G’s Manchester high pressure hydrolysis unit for making soap and on the start-up of P&G’s first Standard Tower Unit for making synthetic detergents outside the US. More to the point, as a P&G engineer he was responsible for applying P&G’s long-established Just-in-Time Production Control Method. In 1957, as Head of Mechanical Methods and Planning, he led the first introduction of P&G’s advanced participative industrial management methods outside the US. On a 1957 visit to the U.S. Hopper met Prof. Peter Drucker, who stimulated his interest in the work of the Civil Communications Section during the American Occupation of Japan.

Mr. Hopper expanded on those accomplishments at P&G, and from 1957 to 1962, was a consultant with Associated Industrial Consultants (AIC). He helped Irish manufacturers and the Irish Government reorganize to meet Common Market competition in the early years of the Celtic Miracle. • From 1961 to 1962 he represented the Irish Hosiery Manufacturers on the Committee on Industrial Organization (CIO) and was joint author of the CIO 1962 Report on the Irish Hosiery industry.

From 1962 to 1963, he was a member of AIC’s Division of Industrial and Human Relations, working with manufacturers in the UK. Mr Hopper returned to general consulting with Belgian and French industry in 1964-65. He worked with both the funeral and wine businesses on the continent.

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