Smeal College of Business

TE Connectivity executive vice president, CFO talks at Smeal Executive Insights

Heath Mitts, executive vice president and chief financial officer of TE Connectivity, and Charles H. Whiteman, John and Becky Surma Dean of Smeal, talk during Executive Insights on Friday, Sept. 20. Credit: Abby Drey / Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Heath Mitts, executive vice president and chief financial officer of TE Connectivity, shared his thoughts on leadership, sustainability and other topics with students, staff and faculty on Sept. 20 in Struthers Auditorium in the Business Building on Penn State's University Park campus.

It was the first installment of this semester’s Executive Insights series. Candace Woods, senior vice president and chief actuary of Prudential, is scheduled to speak on Oct. 18.

The Smeal community packed Struthers Auditorium on Friday to hear Heath Mitts, executive vice president and chief financial officer of TE Connectivity, speaking during Executive Insights, Smeal's signature speaker series. Credit: Abby Drey / Penn StateCreative Commons

Mitts is responsible for developing and implementing the financial strategy for the company. TE Connectivity is a technology company that designs and manufactures connectivity and sensor products for harsh environments in a variety of industries, such as automotive, industrial equipment, data communication systems, aerospace, defense, medical, oil and gas, consumer electronics, and energy.

Prior to TE Connectivity, Mitts served in senior leadership positions at IDEX, PerkinElmer Asia, and Honeywell International.

Mitts shared his views in a moderated discussion with Charles H. Whiteman, John and Becky Surma Dean of Smeal. Among the topics discussed were:


“We have (more than) a hundred manufacturing sites all over the world and 80,000 employees, and we’ve reduced our energy consumption by about 30% over that time period (the past eight years) as we’ve grown. Our suppliers, if they’re going to receive certain preferential treatment, in terms of us ordering from them, we require those suppliers to also be going down that same path.”


“I think you need to know what you’re good at and what you’re not so good at. Part of this job is having a sense for leveraging where you’re strong and you do have viewpoints and then understanding, as well, where you need to get other input in. One thing I try to do a lot is listening.”

Market uncertainty

“I think the volatility we see in markets will continue in the next year or six quarters or so. You have to have the stomach to really weather the storm. Most of our sales are generated from one of our engineers working with one of our customers’ engineers to solve a very specific problem. Then you’re awarded the business, you tool up, you go through qualifications, and at that point you begin to produce. The things that we’re being specced into today probably won’t even go into production for three years. You have to have the stomach to make those investments today for revenue that you’re not going to get for three years. We always have to protect that, even in downturns. We have to protect that core.”

What are you looking for in students?

“Curiosity and patience, I would say. One of the things I’m always preaching is when you get into these jobs, whether it’s a formal development program or if it’s a specific role, understand that it’s going to take a little bit of time. Appreciate that piece of it and put the time in. The other thing is stay curious. I have never once in my career gone up to somebody and said ‘Hey, I’m just curious about something. Do you mind telling me?’ I’ve never had someone say ‘No; I’m not going to tell you what I’m doing.’ That’s never happened to me. I’m not trying to do their job or undermine them; you’re trying to understand. I think over time that is a very powerful thing.”

Honor and integrity

“I think we all want to work for a company that does the right things. That’s part of not only doing it to make ourselves feel good, we want to make sure that is driven through the organization — that you’ll always do the right thing. I’d say it’s a nonstarter to not have those at that level of integrity. It’s one of our four core values of the company. That’s something that is driven home in every corner.”

About Smeal’s Executive Insights

Executive Insights is designed to complement the Smeal educational experience by bringing high-profile business leaders to the college to connect with students, faculty, staff and administrators. Past guests include leaders from organizations such as Amazon, Archer Daniels Midland, Barclays, BASF, Boeing, Credit Suisse, Dell, Deloitte, Dick’s Sporting Goods, EY, GE, Johnson & Johnson, Kohl’s, KPMG, Macy’s, National Retail Federation, Nestlé, Oracle, Procter & Gamble, PwC, Samsung, Siemens, Verizon, TE Connectivity, Tumi Holdings Inc., and Urban Outfitters.

Last Updated September 24, 2019