I’ve learned to view each possible job opportunity as an open door to learn more. Often, someone facilitates that opportunity by encouraging you to look at a job change, essentially opening that door for you.
I came to Eastman Kodak Company in 1982 as a young chemical engineer. Although the word mentoring was not part of the management jargon of that era, I was fortunate to work with many leaders who helped open doors for me to explore career paths that I had not envisioned for myself.
I’m a strong believer that it’s important to keep opening doors throughout your career. It gives you the chance to develop and demonstrate your leadership potential to a range of people. My capabilities caught the attention of managers who knew Kodak would need diverse, insightful leaders to face tough global competition in the coming digital era.
Today, I lead two businesses within Kodak, the Display business and Kodak’s Film and Photofinishing Systems Group (FPG). This business remains profitable and strategic to Kodak, even as digital photography swells in popularity. Many consumers, professional photographers and cinematographers continue to rely on photographic and motion picture film for its unmatched image quality.
During the years leading up to this promotion, executives saw my potential for general management and compelled me to stretch myself to meet these new challenges. I faced a steep learning curve both in understanding an unfamiliar business on a global scale and in applying my skill set as a general manager, not a technologist. I quickly learned to trust and draw on the leaders around me to ramp up as quickly as possible.
I love the dynamics and complexity of business management and leadership that I encounter every day. I realize I have this position in part because people opened doors for me at key vectors in my career, providing me with opportunities to grow. Because of this, mentoring others is important to me. It is part of my commitment to “pay it forward,” helping others as others have helped me. I try to meet with a wide range of individuals to discuss their careers. Sometimes, it’s a one-time event; other times, it develops into multiple discussions. And for some, I have had the chance to open doors for them.