Education: Northwestern, bachelor of science degree, industrial engineering; Harvard Business School
What is the biggest business challenge you have faced?
The biggest challenge you face is one of two things. One is getting the organization turned around and moving in the right direction. The other is when the outside world is changing, you have to find the right opportune time and deal with it.
You have to determine whether you are focusing on the right external changes. You have to fund and focus on those issues while at the same time maintaining the health of the base business. Sometimes that requires dramatic and bold action, and whenever you are taking bold action, you are always wondering if it is the right decision. Time is the only way to tell.
Whom do you admire most in business and why?
I admire business leaders, and there are a number of them, who have a total-picture approach. They have the balance required to focus on the people in the company and the responsibility that goes beyond the company itself into the greater community.
They do it with a humbleness and clarity of vision that oftentimes requires a boldness to do that. This is opposed to leaders who are only in it for their ego.
What is the biggest business lesson you have learned?
Make sure your strategy, structure and culture are in alignment. Start there. There is a heavy focus there on the people side of it.
Do you have the right people and structure to support it, and are you giving them the tools they need to be successful? I say the toughest thing to find in business is to strike the right balance. You don’t want to go faster than the organization can go, but at the same time, you have to find the right speed and capacity that stretches them but doesn’t break the organization in the process.
That’s a difficult challenge.