The Value of Experience

Experience counts, especially in a fast changing world

How my work experience in Europe helped me as a CIO

A CIO in today’s environment, must be a business leader and politician as much as a technology leader who understand the power of technology.  They must work through influence and with perserverance, within a complex environment of disparate constituent audiences.  Earlier in my career, I had the opportunity to work in Basle, Switzerland at the headquarters of Ciba-Geigy, now Novartis.  That multicultural experience was extremely valuable in preparing me for the CIO position.

Basle is located at the border of Switzerland, France and Germany.  A good 25% of those working in Basle, commuted from across the border daily.  Even with the close proximity, those “Grenzegaeger” or border crossers, brought with them their unique cultural perspectives and work ethic.  You do not see this much in the US as we are a pretty homogenous bunch.

  1. Open mindedness
    I was now working in a foreign country where it was normal to be different.  At any one meeting, there were people from a truly diverse background.  Each was coming from a different perspective.  When in Rome, do as the Romans.  Too often Americans go to Europe and expect nothing be different.  The management style is quite different and they still hold to heiarchical frameworks.
  2. Flexibility
  3. Working with different philosophies
  4. The power of persistence
  5. Responsibility without authority

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This entry was posted on February 5, 2011 by in CIO, Experience and tagged .


Hank Edwards

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