The Kahn File Featured

8:00pm EDT May 26, 2009

Current position: CEO of ProQuest LLC since 2007

Education: Bachelor’s degree, Yale College; MBA, Harvard Business School

Business history: Chairman of the board, OneSource Information Services Inc., 1993-2004; chairman of the board, Ovid Technologies Inc., 1989-’98. Kahn has also served as chairman of Vista Information, president of BRS Information Technologies, general manager of the health professions division of McGraw-Hill, and vice president of sales and marketing for the W.B. Saunders Co.

Kahn on internal politics in a business: Internal politics and agendas are death to an organization. To eradicate that, you have to call people out on it. Make it clear that your employees get rewarded for working cooperatively with their colleagues and that there is no reward for operating selfishly.

Kahn on asking for input: You have to really proactively ask for communication. Most people will not say things to senior management unless they’re really proactively encouraged to do so. You have to ask for questions, ask for comments and ask for people’s opinions, and you have to do it regularly. You also have to show that you are going to respect those opinions when you are given them. It’s a proactive process.

Kahn on face-to-face communication: I’m very wary of using technology to communicate emotions. To communicate emotions, the only way to talk to your people is face to face. It’s inefficient, but it works.