CFO Brust looks to save Sprint, one pencil at a time

December 8, 2008

Bob Brust came out of retirement in May this year for the Chief Financial Officer job at Sprint, aiming to help the No. 3 U.S. mobile service turn around its business. Instead of looking to make himself popular, Brust has been spending his nights looking over purchasing orders.

In his first meeting with the company’s senior managers he admonished them over how much the company was spending on bottled water. Sprint employees now get their water from the tap. He has also tackled office supplies, putting an end to most purchases. Employees were forced to reuse things or share if they couldn’t find what they wanted lying around in closets. The results included savings of $17.6 million on office supplies, $15.6 million on travel and $1.41 million on 35.4 million sheets of printing paper. 

And today, as the company offers buyouts and contemplates layoffs for January, Brust is tougher than ever about waste. 

“If you can certify that you need a new pencil I might give it to you,” he said.

Will this attitude help the company, deemed by an investor advisory firm to have the most overpaid corporate executives in 2007, win back the trust of investors?


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Although this may be a nice step to illustrate the point that he means business, on the long run you can’t save a company by saving a pencil or two. Sprint’s problem are more fundamental and hence requires a more fundamental approach. Only if the company can demonstrate a viable plan it will win back investor confidence.

Posted by maarten | Report as abusive

While there is still a lot more to look at in regards to making the company profitable again, it is the small things like bottled water and office waste that obviously add up. If more companies would take a closer look at some of these practices it would afford them more wiggle room when it comes to the number of staff they actually have to cut. By saving 15.6 million on office supplies, how many jobs did that save?

Posted by Jordan | Report as abusive