Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Looking Her Over

In my last job, we used a database that I consider about as user-friendly as a cactus, called Salesforce. It was certainly not cut out to be used as an Advancement/Fundraising database, as you might have guessed from the name. It's designed to be used by salespeople--and my last office was moving to treat fundraising as sales, a tactic I am opposed to.

With this in mind, as I was cruising the Wall Street Journal's Career Journal, I noticed the current "How I Got Here" column features Susan St. Ledger, Senior Vice President of Salesforce. It's a small snippet, but one part in particular caught my eye. In her "How You Can Get Here Too" advice, St. Ledger advises the following:

Best advice: "Vision really comes from a depth of understanding of a lot of different areas," says Ms. St. Ledger. "I don't necessarily think it is something that people are just born with. What you find in people with great vision is that they understand a lot about a lot of different areas, and it really helps them evolve that vision. If you have a stovepipe career, you may move up quicker that way, but at some point you're going to cap out because you're lacking that well-rounded experience."

Skills you need: "I think it's important to be a great leader and a great manager, and often people confuse the two," says Ms. St. Ledger. "Sometimes you have great leaders that aren't great managers, and sometimes you have great managers that aren't great leaders. Whenever you can find the combination of the two, that's really, really valuable."

Degrees you should go for: It is helpful to have the M.B.A., offers Ms. St. Ledger -- if the timing works out. "Definitely do it if you can make it work, but, at the same time, I would say get some real life experience first," she advises.

Where you should start: "You should go to the companies that are doing the bleeding edge stuff," says Ms. St. Ledger. "When you get experience at a company that's really bleeding edge, it really sets you up to be a leader in that marketplace moving forward."

I've never heard this term "bleeding edge," and it confused me. I think she's trying to outdo the phrase "cutting edge," and somehow all I can think of is St. Ledger leaning over a company board room table brandishing a scalpel and slicing bleeding lines on the executives' faces. Gory, I know, but after spending six months using her product, I feel like she slashed my productivity and pushed me to the bleeding edge.

Other than the fact that I'm not a fan of her company and couldn't resist a jab at it, the piece is unremarkable. It's filled with leader/manager jargon and the advice is pretty standard. Although it's nice to see a woman at the top of a tech company!

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