Michael J. Birck

Michael J. Birck
Michael J. Birck
Missoula, MT, USA
Associated organizations
Bell Labs, Tellabs
Fields of study
IEEE Ernst Weber Managerial Leadership Award


Michael J. Birck was born on 25 January 1938, in Missoula, Montana. He obtained a BSEE degree at Purdue University in 1960, and an MSEE degree from New York University in 1962. Both Purdue University and Benedictine University have awarded him honorary doctorate degrees.

After working as a Member of the Technical Staff at Bell Telephone Laboratories in Murray Hill, New Jersey, he joined Communications Apparatus Corporation, where he was Engineering Manager, in 1966. Two years later he became Director of Engineering at Wescom, Inc, where he worked primarily on the development of customer-premise signaling and transmission system products.

Throughout his career, Michael J. Birck has distinguished himself as an incredibly effective and principled business leader, as well as a visionary engineer. As Co-Founder, President, and CEO of Tellabs, he guided the firm through its transformation from a small 1975 start-up into a global telecommunication enterprise with revenue in excess of $3 billion. In September 2000, he relinquished his previous titles to become Chairman.

Under Mr. Birck's leadership, Tellabs has become a leader in digital cross-connect systems, hybrid-fiber coaxial transport, and echo-cancellation systems. Tellabs has consistently received remarkable accolades, including repeatedly being recognized by Fortune as one of the "100 Best Companies to Work for in America." Tellabs has also appeared on the "100 Fastest Growing Companies," and "America's Most Admired Companies" lists.

Mr. Birck is a trustee of Purdue University and Benedictine University. The many awards he has received include Purdue University's Distinguished Engineering Alumnus and Outstanding Electrical Engineering Alumnus honors, the Illinois High Tech Entrepreneur award, and the Outstanding Master Entrepreneur Award. He was inducted into the Chicago Business Hall of Fame and received the Chicago Area Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement Award.

Mr. Birck was President of the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy Fund Board and was a member of the University of Illinois President's Advisory Council. He was a Director of Molex, Inc., Illinois Tool Works, Inc., the Economic Club of Chicago, the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry, the Lincoln Foundation for Business Excellence, and Hinsdale Hospital. He was Chair of the United Way/Crusade of Mercy Suburban Region campaign.