Born: Hobbs, N.M., 1954
Education: Bachelor of science degree, accounting, Louisiana State University, 1976
What was your first job, and what did it teach you?
I did have an ongoing baby-sitting job. It became pretty clear that working is a commitment and people depend on you. I worked for an emergency room nurse, and she covered the 3 to 11 shift. I covered the hours she was gone before her husband got home. The lesson was that she truly depended on me to get to work. Keeping a commitment would be the lesson.
What’s the biggest business challenge you’ve faced, and how did you overcome it?
I think the biggest one was the turmoil in the energy markets from 2000 to 2001. I was focused on the Carolina marketplace, and we lost a significant portion of our business during that time. Textile mills were closing. It was quite a challenge. The area I focused in was to communicate continually, both good news and bad news, also increased listening, so that we could work to find creative ways to meet our customers needs.
What’s the most important business lesson that you’ve learned?
Always have an exit strategy.
What is your personal work philosophy?
The first thing that comes to mind is keep commitments. But at the same time, don’t over-commit. Keep a balance. Frankly, that’s the one I have to work on the hardest.
What’s the best work advice you’ve ever been given?
That’s one of the ones I got from my first month or two at work. The person who trained me told me, ‘Don’t ever be afraid to say, “I don’t know,” but always go find out the answer.’ That gave me more confidence. That was good advice. It’s pretty basic, but it’s not something I would have thought of.
What’s the best business book you’ve read lately, and what did you get out of it?
‘The World is Flat’ [by Thomas L. Friedman]. ... I really think there are a lot of tough issues that are addressed in that book that we all need to reckon with.