Protege Profile: Bill McCorey

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Bill McCorey, 47

Vice president of business applications

Circuit City Stores Inc.

Mentor: Michael Jones, CIO

Please describe your current responsibilities. Basically, I am responsible for application development and support for Circuit City. I consider myself a business/technical liaison, since I work with the executives of all of our lines of business. Right now, we have a major transformation underway to "re-tech" all of our merchandisers. We are also three-quarters of the way through a point-of-sale replacement project and will finish deploying systems to stores next year. My responsibilities also include overseeing significant investments in areas such as data warehousing, looking into other technologies that impact our retail services and customer relationship management.

How do you interact with your mentor on a practical level? I work with Mike a great deal when it comes to interacting with our executive operations committee, which is designed to come up with business/technical innovations. I have also learned a lot by observing Mike, since he is one of the best public speakers I have ever come across. He is also strong at strategy and finding ways to balance business solutions and technology solutions. Another thing I would say about Mike as a mentor is that he is great at empowering others to lead. His message to me has always been, "Bill, this is your business to run, and I am here to support you."

How are you being groomed for your next position? I really think that working with Mike has made me well-positioned to be the next CIO of Circuit City, if or when Mike decides to move to a different business unit or decides to take on a different challenge. Initially, Mike was a customer of mine when he was CIO of our company's bank division, and I was running the infrastructure side of that operation. I was then given the opportunity to work for Mike when he became the CIO of Circuit City. And I have to say that it was a really nice transition. A lot of times, when you have someone who is a peer or a customer and that person becomes your boss, you will see dramatic changes in that person's personality. But I never saw that in Mike. I truly view him as a partner.

What are the benefits of having a mentor, and can you think of any downsides to this learning process? I really can't think of any downsides. I am very much a believer in mentoring in general and feel overall that you should be learning from everyone you interact with. I can't imaging not having a mentor and can't see how I would have learned all that I have without Mike. For example, I have learned a tremendous amount about strategy and the overall command and control of executives by watching him. In the more challenging meetings, he is great about giving me feedbacks after I've pitched to the executives, and his feedback is quick and concise.

Are you mentoring other individuals? I absolutely am -- in the formal and informal sense of the word. I believe that all leaders should be mentors in everything we do. I am a big believer that you should observe and take away the best that everyone has to offer, and if you are a leader, you should be looking to give back what it takes to build a great team.

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