Industrial and systems engineering student interviews Apple CEO

Published: May 28, 2021 10:00 AM

By Carla Nelson

Auburn University Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering student Annie Dorsey recently had the opportunity to speak with Apple CEO Tim Cook during the annual conference of the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE).

Cook, a 1982 graduate of Auburn’s industrial and systems engineering program, was presented with the Captains of Industry Award, the Institute’s highest honor that is bestowed solely on business, industry and government leaders. Cook was nominated for the award by Alice Smith, an IISE Fellow and the Joe W. Forehand/Accenture Distinguished Professor of industrial and systems engineering. 

The conference was held virtually and Dorsey, IISE’s Auburn student chapter president, spoke with Cook during an interview-style discussion. The two discussed Cook’s background in industrial engineering, the importance of ethical business practices, his role at Apple, his sources of inspiration and more.

“Tim is extremely candid and friendly,” Dorsey said after the interview. “While I was interviewing him, I was really trying to soak up the moment and really listen to what he had to say. I was fighting with a small voice in the back of my head which was constantly freaking out at the fact that I was getting to speak with someone as influential and successful as Tim.”

Dorsey said her favorite part of the interview was a discussion about privacy, during which she made a joke about the newest iPhone operating system update which shows users what personal data is being shared. 

“I took a leap and called it ‘iOS 14-point privacy’ and he seemed to get a kick out of that, which made me feel great,” Dorsey said. “Tim Cook laughed at one of my jokes!”

While discussing his sources of inspiration, Cook told Dorsey that he finds inspiration from young thinkers such as herself.

“I get a lot of inspiration from young people, like yourself,” Cook said. “What I see is that young people, versus my generation, are already more focused on what they can do to help society in general. This excites me and leads me to believe that the world will be a much better place in the future.”

Watch the complete interview above.

Media Contact: Carla Nelson,, 334-844-1404

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