The Ryan file Featured

7:00pm EDT December 31, 2006

Birthplace: Pittsburgh

Education: Notre Dame, bachelor’s degree; Harvard University, MBA First job: Army supply officer, Fort Bragg, N.C.

Whom do admire in business and why?

Frederick Smith, FedEx Corp. I can’t comment on his management methods, but he founded and runs a remarkable corporation and got no bad publicity. I admire the founders of Hewlett-Packard, William Hewlett and David Packard, for the way they ran their business and the IBM of my youth.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in business?

A fellow came to me when I was new with the company and told me that in all his years with the company, no one ever asked him to do what he knew wasn’t right. I’ve tried to run the company like that.

Where did some companies lose their way? When people started cheating and stealing or started taking shortcuts.

What are the primary responsibilities of leadership?

When you’re in leadership, you have been given moral capital. It is crucial that you use this moral capital to do well, not only for yourself and your family, and not only for the company’s shareholders but for the company’s people and, to a certain extent, for our society as a whole.

What are the key characteristics that a leader should possess?

A person must have integrity; there’s too much power not to have it. They must be able to relate to their people and their customers, and they must understand their market.