The Irwin file Featured

8:00pm EDT September 25, 2007

Born: Johnstown, Pa.

Education: The Ohio State University

What is the biggest business challenge you have faced?

The need to be clear and concise, to be simple and direct about our strategy, about our plan, about what’s needed — and to do that with the four constituents that are important to us. No. 1 is our customers, second is our investors. Then there are our trusted advisers, all the people that influence us — analysts and the press — and our employees. Being able to secure in everyone’s mind what they do, and how it contributes to what Sterling is trying to accomplish (is important). Before taking this job, my assumed understanding of how they all understand what they were doing and why they were doing that was unbelievably overrated. It’s been my biggest eye-opening experience, my biggest lesson learned and my biggest area of focus, all in one.

Irwin on valuing all departments: There’s no possible way to understand the importance of all the different departments of a company, unless you’ve actually seen it. Every function is important, and when you’re in a sales leadership role, you think your function is the most important. We are all in this together, and without every single department contributing, we can’t succeed. It’s all departments contributing that makes us successful.

Sterling Commerce’s pedigree: Formerly a division of Sterling Software, Sterling Commerce became an independent corporation through an initial public offering in March 1996. SBC Communications acquired Sterling Commerce in March 2000. With the merger of AT&T Corp. and SBC Communications Inc. in November 2005, Sterling Commerce became a subsidiary of AT&T Inc., the largest telecommunications company in the United States and one of the largest in the world.