During the last 20 years, I have had opportunities to work across a handful of industries in positions spanning a broad range of disciplines, including procurement, finance, training and development, marketing, and continuous improvement. As vice president of business operations for Textron Defense Systems, I have drawn on all of these experiences to gain perspective, strategize, and develop multidisciplinary solutions that help drive business success.
Looking back, my career path makes a lot of sense—but that wasn’t always the case. In my first job after college, I was an analyst in a management development program at Conoco Inc., Then Dupont’s energy subsidiary. I struggled during that first year. I just didn’t understand how to be successful. Mercifully, two of my peers in the program helped to show me the way.
As with so many experiences during my career, the challenges of that first role taught me valuable lessons. Chief among these is the importance of asking questions, listening to others, and involving people in what you’re trying to accomplish. I simply wouldn’t have survived my first job without the help of my colleagues. Consequently, I continue to solicit ideas and input from others to achieve business goals. The success of a business is not dependent solely on any individual, but on a team working together toward collective goals.
As I learned Six Sigma and Lean methodologies at GE and Textron, I saw the value of simplicity and transparency of information. Sometimes people believe that the best solution is a complex one; however, simple solutions foster acceptance and are easier to sustain over time. Transparency of data and processes also is essential, because decision-making is easier and faster when everyone shares the same knowledge base. In addition, you allow others to feel more confident about making decisions and offering ideas by increasing transparency when data and processes aren’t well understood or routinely communicated.
Ultimately, I am the product of the extraordinary people I’ve been able to work with at Conoco, GE, and Textron. I also am fortunate to have a network of talented friends who make themselves available when I ask for advice. At the end of the day, I take greater pride in the friendships I’ve made, and the work we’ve accomplished together, than simply in the career goals I’ve achieved.