Words of Wisdom

IT Leaders recount the best career advice they've ever received.

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Words of career advice, in some cases spoken decades ago, have stuck with these Premier 100 IT Leaders, forming the basis for their own leadership styles. Here they recount the most valuable career advice they've ever received.

Focus on the external world. Work backward from where the industry and the competition are headed. Pay attention to what matters to the consumer, and always drive to create value based on what the business needs to succeed. -- Katherine E. Busser, CIO, U.S. card division; vice president, Capital One Financial Corp., Richmond, Va.

A leader once told me, "Take care of the company's best interests and the company will take care of yours." I took that thought to heart, and for the most part, it has worked well for me. -- Julie F. Butcher, vice president of information technology, MDC Holdings Inc., Centennial, Colo.

The most valuable career advice I have ever received is to be persistent in the face of adversity. I received this advice from Joe Ambrozy, who was CIO at Bell Atlantic. He advised me not to worry about making people happy and building consensus when my mission is to support the objectives of the business. The agendas of others may conflict with and run counter to my agenda. Accordingly, I have learned to stay the course and face adversity head-on. -- Robert G. Holstein, CIO and vice president for IT, National Public Radio, Washington

The most valuable pieces of career advice I've ever received center around respect and integrity. Specifically, treat everyone -- at all levels -- with respect... especially when delivering difficult messages. I've also learned that maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be the difference between short- and long-term success. -- Guy Chiarello, CIO and chief technology officer, Morgan Stanley Securities; Morgan Stanley, New York

Commitment, dedication, honesty and hard work always pay off in the end, not necessarily in financial terms, but in personal satisfaction and fulfillment. -- Eric Gorham, director of IT, Regional Justice Information Service, St. Louis

Whatever your job, you should communicate clearly and honestly. And whatever you say you are going to do, follow through and do it. These 'simple' things will help very effectively build and maintain your credibility. (And the absence of them can quickly lose it for you!) -- T. Charles Hunsinger, vice president of software engineering, Corporate Express Inc., Broomfield, Colo.

Gain as much mastery in managing conversations as you can. Everything significant that happens occurs as a result of a conversation -- either the one you are having with others or the one you are having with yourself. -- Tom H. Scott, executive vice president of operations and CIO, Direct Holdings Worldwide LLC, Virginia Beach, Va.

Embrace, in fact, cherish diversity. Seek those who do and think differently than yourself. -- Hap M. Cluff, director of IT, City of Norfolk, Va.

When things aren't going according to plan, don't panic. Two weeks from now, no one will remember or care. -- Bill Regehr, senior vice president of IT and CIO, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Atlanta

Always take responsibility for your own career development. You may have mentors or sponsors, but ultimately you are responsible for your own career progression by taking responsibilities and creating opportunities. -- John F. Fisher, senior vice president and CIO, SmithBucklin Corp., Chicago

The most valuable advice I received was to be honest in your business dealings, have integrity, don't deceive people, and most of all, you never know who your next boss will be. -- Mark H. Griesbaum, CIO, Career Education Corp., Hoffman Estates, Ill.

Advice from my father: Make your job your hobby, because you will spend most of your time doing it and you might as well enjoy it! -- Paul M. de Graaff, chief information security architect, The Depository Trust & Clearing Corp., New York

Integrity is what you do when nobody's watching. -- Mark A. Resmer, chief technology officer, Whitney University, Dallas

Special Report

2006 Premier 100 IT Leaders

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Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.

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