Leader Do-Overs

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Even IT Leaders would like a do-over every now and then. We asked this year's honorees to tell us about their worst career decisions, and if they had them to do over, what they'd do differently.

"My worst decision was resigning from a stable work environment to follow a dream that wasn't well thought-out. Early in my career, I resigned from a company to pursue self-employment without the advice of a mentor or professional guidance. This attempt sadly failed but taught me a valuable lesson about solid preparation and logical execution." -- Steven L. Naylor, vice president and director of IT, Federal Home Loan Bank of Topeka, Kansas

"If I had my career to do all over again, I would have gotten more diverse experience earlier in my career. I was always looking for opportunities, but it was hard to branch out into other disciplines. After working in accounting and finance for 12 years, my labor grade got in the way of some opportunities. Eventually, I took a salary cut to move into another organization. I now wish I had been able to do that earlier." -- Rebecca A. Blalock, senior vice president and CIO, Southern Co., Atlanta

"I once did not recognize a significant political undercurrent on a project, and I offered a steadfast position that was counter to an important advocate of mine. This individual was key to the success of a project I had sponsored. The result was that I had unwittingly undermined him, causing damage to his credibility. If I could get back to that situation, I would have made absolutely certain that all differences were investigated and resolved prior to bringing them to the table." -- Fred R. Danback, vice president, global technology, XL Global Services Inc., Stamford, Conn.

"I delayed pursuing my college degree. I listened to my peers who told me that all I needed was my certificates and technical experiences to advance. Wrong decision. I finally returned to school, following earnest advice from my director, and realized how much I had limited myself. I learned about budgeting and finance, organizational development, business ethics, research methodologies, interpersonal relationships, and many more topics and skills that I feel add fundamental value to a successful leader's role. I realize that no learning opportunity is a waste of time. If I had it to do over, I would have returned to school while still in the Air Force and had a degree in hand when I was discharged." -- Earl R. Monsour, director of strategic information technologies, Maricopa Community College District, Tempe, Ariz.

"The worst decisions I've made have had one thing in common: Letting myself be persuaded to build something in-house when it should have been bought. There have been occasions where I've accepted an overly optimistic estimate of what it would take to complete a project. Using 20-20 hindsight, there are projects where I should have pulled the plug when I began to see that the real cost and time to build in-house were going to exceed purchasing best-of-breed commercial software." -- Enzo Micali, senior vice president and CIO, 1-800-Flowers.com Inc., Westbury, N.Y.

"The worst decision I've made in my career was leaving a position and a company that I adored for the potential of huge financial gains through stock options, thinking that the position would open many more opportunities for me and my family. The new position was boring, the company culture conflicted with my core values, and ultimately, the options where worthless." -- Julie F. Butcher, vice president of information technology, MDC Holdings Inc., Centennial, Colo.

Special Report

2006 Premier 100 IT Leaders

Stories in this report:

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Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.

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