Thursday, October 4, 2012

GHC12: From Engineer to Executive: The Path Forward

Susan Zwinger, Oracle, is building upon Nora Denzel's keynote - here to talk about people.

Who is Sue? Well, she's an engineering VP at Oracle, but she's also a wife, a mother of two, daughter and frequent traveler.

Ms Zwinger didn't start out thinking she'd become a VP, with her degree in statistics. She started out as a software engineer, but quickly became bored and took a job designing a kernel internals course - where she got to travel all over the world to give the class.  She was hooked on the travel bug after that and looked for jobs that let her do that!

You want to choose a career that you can grow in, will increase your job satisfaction and improve your satisfaction. But, you need to figure out what your strengths and weaknesses are - and this changes as you grow.

You want to plan your career instead of just react - but that's not always possible. Ms. Zwinger's first husband committed suicide when their daughter was only a year old.  Initially feeling like everything was over, she picked up everything and moved to Tokyo. It taught her that she was strong and could find her way out of the worst circumstances imaginable.

Best ways to start planning? Figure out who you are - take a Myers Briggs test and do a 360 degree review (includes self review, peer rating, direct report rating, supervisor rating).
  •  Myers Briggs test
  • 360 degree review (includes self review, peer rating, direct report rating, supervisor rating)
    • Her own 360 taught her that she's great at results and leading her team through change, her reports loved her - but her peers did not.  She has problems with people skills, leaving "bodies in her path". Something to work on! 
  • FIRO-B  -  Fundamental Interpersonal relations Orientation-Behavior. 
    • She learned from tis that she had a need for control (which she knew) but also had a big need for affection (surprise!)
  • Coaches
    • People that will tell you the truth about yourself!
    • Sun paired her up with executive coach Steve Josephs
      • Taught her to respect everyone - sincerely, not just going through the motions.
      • when things are getting stressful or out of control, take a deep and slow breath.
  • The Leadership Derailer helps leaders find which weaknesses require improvement to succeed?
  • Management Skills Inventory
  • Books: Think Positive, Lou Tice
    • For Ms. Zwinger, this was applied to a simple thing: think about the positive parts of not biting her nails. Her fingers felt better. Focusing on that simple positive thought, she broke her long time bad habit.
  • Inspiring person: Think Olympian, Marilyn King
    • Injured for 9 months and could not practice for the decathlon, but thought through her training. Spent every day thinking about and watching the event. She ended up placing second in the trials.
A great and inspiring a talk, very relevant for me given my recent job change into management!

This post syndicated from Thoughts on security, beer, theater and biking!