Protege Profile: Steve Yon

Title: Senior vice president and director of common services

Company: National City Corp.

Mentor: Joe McCartin, CIO

How are you being groomed for your next position? It's a combination of exposure to business context -- working with our lines of business to make sure I'm grounded in their objectives, strategies and plans -- and providing me the opportunity (and holding me accountable) for leadership on some of the large transformational activities. This serves in two ways: first, to deliver value to the organization, and second, to build credibility with the senior teams.

What's been your career ladder? After graduating from MIT, I progressed from design engineer through director of engineering roles at NCR Retail Systems. After that, I left to take on the role of president of Holaday Industries, an instrumentation firm. I was brought in to drive a refresh/turnaround in order to enable its acquisition. After the sale, I assumed the role of brand director for Dell Computer's OptiPlex PC product line [and was] responsible for brand management, marketing, portfolio management, etc. From there, I moved to National City (coming back to my hometown of Cleveland) and am currently leading the shared services function within IS. I have been here about four and a half years.

What special skills do you bring to your job? Since my background is broad, with technical depth as well as being accountable for business operations and sales marketing, it allows me to have a fairly good perspective on "fit" -- where things are, where they're going, how to explain things to multiple levels of people in the organization, why we do the things we do. I'm leveraging my background to translate experience into actions while helping coach people. I have a high raw energy level and a passion to continually and radically improve things to help the team win.

What's important about having a career mentor? He or she can impart wisdom. A mentor can provide you with a different perspective, a "portal" of their own experiences, if you will, that can shed some light and insight in order to bring clarity to your perspective. That allows you to determine how you want to -- or don't want to -- apply yourself to your particular situation.

Are there any downsides to being mentored? With the (hopefully rare) exception of getting bad advice, I can't think of any downside. I can say that engaging in mentoring does build the mentee's ability to discern good from bad, develop an intuition for things (let's call that wisdom) and identify blind spots where he or she can purposefully target specific types of coaching or advice.

Are you mentoring anyone? Oh yes, I mentor and get mentored from hundreds of people. I do that every day, formally and informally. Formally with my direct leadership staff; informally with all the conversations I have with anyone and everyone I run across. Spending time with as many people as I can helps impart the view from here to help them in their awareness, understanding and fit. It enables them to make better decisions from a professional as well as personal-aspiration perspective, as well as earn their trust, their respect and their commitment to our company's path. Mentoring is an exceptionally healthy activity -- you should get and give a couple of good servings a day!

Special Report

2006 Premier 100 IT Leaders

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Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.

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