Terry P. Brooks: Multitask Juggler

Terry P. Brooks, 51, division manager of information services at Yamaha Motor Corporation U.S.A., is already thinking through IT issues before most people are out of bed. Here's what a typical day looks like for this IT leader, who manages about 125 people and is responsible for long-term IT strategy at Yamaha.

6 a.m.

Up bright and early, Brooks says he does some of his best thinking in the shower. "I joke about the shower thing, but it really does work. A lot of stuff is percolating in your mind, and you just need that isolation to gather your thoughts together," says Brooks. His 25-minute drive to work offers more time to reflect.

8:30 a.m.

At his Cypress, Calif., office, Brooks begins his morning by checking the 100 to 150 e-mails he receives every day. He opens and reads the important ones, responding to them throughout the day. Some, he just doesn't get to.

"E-mail is a fundamental part of the business," he says. "I think part of the reason is that we're a Japanese company, and when things are written down, it's much easier to make sure there's some level of understanding because of the language barrier. When something is written down, the English-limited members of the company get a chance to read through it three or four times and figure out what it really means."

After handling e-mail, Brooks deals with various issues, including the company's midterm and five-year IT vision plan. He also devotes anywhere from three to eight hours a week to budget matters. But mostly his job is to facilitate the operation by providing guidance and support to business managers.

"I try not to be on the front line of fighting fires unless they're already elevated to some kind of executive level," he says. "Most of the time, my people know what to do. They don't need me hounding them to see whether they've done it or not."

Noon

At lunchtime, Brooks usually goes out for a sandwich, which he brings back to the office to eat at his desk.

3 p.m.

There's no such thing as a typical afternoon for Brooks, who says one of his biggest challenges is switching between wildly different tasks. One minute, he may be dealing with a low-level problem such as a decision about whether a particular employee should get a laptop, and the next minute, he's talking to a company vice president or president about how systems can help the company's sales programs. And then he may have to deal with an employee's personal health situation.

"That's the real challenge -- being able to change gears all the time," he says.

Night Shift

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Brooks says he tries not to deal with vendors or the press during the regular workday because that can become a distraction. Instead, he tries to set aside some time on Fridays to deal with external matters, he says.

"I'm focused on delivering what we've committed to. We've been really, really busy the past two or three years, so my day is pretty full," says Brooks, who turns out the light and heads for home sometime between 6:30 and 8:30 p.m., most likely doing some more strategic thinking on the way.

Special Report

2006 Premier 100 IT Leaders

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Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.

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