The Klein File Featured

10:03am EDT November 29, 2005

Born: 1957, New York

Education: Bachelor of arts degree, accounting, Syracuse University

First job: Brand management, Procter & Gamble

What is the greatest business challenge you’ve faced?
When I went to work for my father-in-law’s building products distribution company, it was immediately assumed that I was the idiot son-in-law. I may have had a four-window office at PepsiCo, but I had to establish my credibility with these people.

I did it by sitting in every chair, learning everyone’s jobs. I unloaded trucks, drove a forklift, worked in the warehouse, spent time in accounting, payroll and sales. The first six months were tough.

I spent a year showing my willingness to roll up my sleeves and get my hands dirty. Then I became COO. During my time there, I helped take it from a $12 million company to a $1 billion one.

What’s the most important business lesson you’ve learned?
It’s not about me. The people I work with are the ones who should be honored and recognized for all they do. I’m lucky. As CEO of IRI, I get to go out and deliver the company’s message, tell our story and talk about our accomplishments. But it’s the employees that create that story every day.

Whom do you admire most in business and why?
The chairman of our company, Romesh Wadhwani. He hired me and he’s the reason I decided to come to IRI because I realized that I could learn a great deal from him.

He’s a very successful businessman and a supportive, caring and strategic-thinking leader. I admire his creativity, his passion and his drive. I work hard and put in long hours, but this guy must never sleep.