Education: Bachelor’s degree, UCLA; MBA, Golden Gate University; graduate of The University of Virginia Darden School of Business Executive Program and the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School
At ValueClick: Vadnais has been CEO at ValueClick since May 2007. Since joining the company in October 2001, he has also served as general manager of the company’s Mediaplex and Commission Junction subsidiaries and president of U.S. operations.
What was your first job, and what did you learn from it?
Summer intern with IBM. I learned the importance of learning a lot about your business and your fellow workers in order to be successful in your job. When I was hired, IBM sent me to a two-week training program where we worked long hours going into a lot of detail. I could be a lot more effective in my summer intern role because I knew at least a little bit about the business before I was put on the firing line.
Whom do you admire most and why?
Probably former chairman and CEO of IBM, Frank Cary. For two years, I was his administrative assistant. I was doing a lot of work for him fact gathering, briefing him on competitive situations, briefing him on product issues and so on, because I could delve into what was going on in some part of company that he really couldn’t. So I learned the value of having somebody you can trust be your eyes and ears in a company. I have a lot of respect for him because he realized that, as brilliant as he was, he needs a lot of help to run a big company. That’s the same way I feel today.
What’s your definition of success?
Being happy and satisfied with what you’re doing. If you’re enjoying what you’re doing, you’re getting personal satisfaction from it, then I think that’s success. Being a CEO doesn’t mean you’re successful. You could be miserable in that role. In my mind, you’re unsuccessful in life if you’re miserable. I don’t care what your title is. If you’re promoted into a high management role and you’re not enjoying it, you may be successful in somebody’s eyes but I don’t think you’re successful.