The Peterschmidt file Featured

7:00pm EDT January 31, 2007

Born: Fort Madison, Iowa

Education: Bachelor of arts degree, University of Missouri; MBA, Chapman College, Orange, Calif.

First job: Paper route

Whom do you admire most in business?

Lou Gerstner, who formidably turned IBM around on his own terms. When Wall Street and his own internal management team were advising him that the best strategy was to sell the company off, he resisted both internal and external pressures and made his own determination as to what needed to get done.

He stayed the course with strong will and courage, and was ultimately successful in his resolve.

What has been your biggest business challenge?

I went from running Sybase, a $1 billion software company with 6,000 employees to Inktomi, a near raw start-up with only nine employees and limited cash resources. When I arrived, I was forced to evaluate what large company structure and repeatable processes were important enough to apply to the company without adding too many layers of bureaucracy.

As a result, the organization was able to act nimbly and swiftly and also grow in an organized fashion and scale gracefully.

What is the most important business lesson you’ve learned?

Your employees must buy in to your vision. Without it, you will not be able to accomplish your goals.

Describe your leadership style.

You must lead from the front and be willing to set the model for the behavior you expect to see in your people. Every day, I’m out talking to our customers, investors and partners — those touch points are key to executing on my vision and guiding Openwave’s direction.