I also did a fair amount of work on re-engineering work processes, not in the technical sense but in looking at streamlining processes, looking at the most efficient way of getting things done, which goes back to the early '90s when Michael Hammer came out with some of his ideas about re-engineering. We had been closing books on a financial basis in seven days and when we finished re-engineering we were doing that in two days.
In 1996, I spent 11 weeks at the Harvard Business School in its Advanced Management Program, which was a tremendous experience. Half the class was from overseas and it was a case study program that covered over 110 business cases. It was an opportunity to share insights and really opened up my perspective. I came out of there really ready to tack on responsibilities as corporate comptroller. I benefited from that with an appreciation for the opportunities available outside our domestic market and to better understand some of the challenges of the CFO.
The company was acquired by International Paper Company in April of 1999 and I stayed on with them for about six months, helping them put the two financial organizations together. After that, they said you can stay and I said I really was not all that eager to do that, so that's when I stepped into the position I have today.
2. Who was an influential boss for you and what lessons did they teach you about management and leadership?
Looking back, my earliest exposure to leadership came immediately after my graduation from college. I received a commission as a U.S. Army officer in the Signal Corps and spent two years on active duty. I worked with many, many dedicated officers there. It was a fair amount of responsibility, but I had the chance to get really involved in planning, coordination and working as a team.
You read about management and leadership in textbooks and then after you get into the workplace you begin to have a firsthand opportunity to start to do some of those things you read about, but it usually takes maybe 10 years before you get into a position where you really in fact begin to do what you learned about. But that wasn't the case for me. Being in that position, within a year, I was running a 160 man communications company. I look back and it was real heavy lifting as far as getting myself immersed in those leadership requirements. That was my first bit of leadership.
I covered a lot, saw a lot, and it filled me with a fair amount of confidence. It was also the opportunity to work with a lot of different people.