Alumni Spotlight: Abbott Weiss ’63
August, 1959: Eisenhower was President, Hawaii formally became the 50th state, and I entered Webb with 23 other young men as a freshman. Ike is long gone, Hawaii is still here, and I still feel most fortunate to be a Webbie.
Although I didn’t always feel so positive at the time, my Webb experience has been significant and beneficial ever since. The heavy workload and high standards (plus the fear of flunking out and losing the scholarship) taught me how to work harder than ever in my life – and I learned about reserve capacities I never knew I had. (For example, earning a Master’s degree at MIT and a doctorate at Harvard were easy by comparison.)
The work terms taught me what the real worlds of engineering and business looked like, and they helped me choose what I enjoyed doing most. (I’ve spent most of my professional career as a logistics and supply chain management operating manager, consultant, and lately, teacher. Highlights include co-founding a logistics consulting company, working for Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC) for 22 years, VP leadership roles at DEC, Polaroid, and i2 Corp – three multibillion dollar companies – and the opportunity to continue my learning every day.)
We are blessed with lifelong friendships with fellow classmates and their families. Whether it involves memories of the laughs together, playing on our championship touch football teams, or the life events we are still a part of with each other (like weddings, babies, or even my 70th birthday party this summer), the feelings are strong and good ones. Former President Ron Kiss and I were roommates at Webb. He started another tradition I value, one that still keeps me connected to the school, when he created Wine 101 as part of the Senior Seminar series and asked me to give that session each year. Admiral Olsen has graciously continued the practice.
I am continuing my career as a serious hedonist, with a passion for cooking, wine, travel, photography and the joys of family and friends. I support these habits with short bursts of commercial energy: occasional projects of supply chain/logistics management consulting, plus teaching graduate courses in Business Operations at MIT (with my friend and colleague of 50 years, Professor Hank Marcus, Webb ’65), and at Tufts and Simmons College, all in the Boston area .
I’ve long been over-educated for my height; most fortunate to have good health, all my hair (still curly, no longer brown), my marriage partner of 46 years, Barbara, plus daughter Sarah, 32, son Aaron, 27, and two grandsons under six.
I might be considered semi-retired. I work out of my home office (when not in a classroom) in the house we built 40 years ago, 30 miles West of Boston. Spend time at our summer home in Nantucket, on the ocean, and travel often to places in the world where I can indulge my love of beauty, food and wine.
Thank you, Webb and Webbies.