Wright advises new P&L managers to get into all aspects of the product lifecycle to be sure customer satisfaction doesn't fall prey to the classic tension between sales and product development.
In 2005, Steve Beason joined Scientific Games, a lottery systems supplier, as CTO responsible for developing new products for the company's current customers. He quickly saw the need for IT leadership and picked up the function of MIS along the way. In 2007, he added sales and marketing to his product development role and was named president of the Lottery Systems group. Beason offers the following tips.
Get an MBA. "Earlier in my career, I would sit in a meeting with finance guys and hear them using terms like EBITA and internal rate of return (IRR)," he says. "I knew that if I wanted to run a business, I would have to do some homework."
Steve took an executive MBA program while he was working a full-time job. "It was two years of no family and no fun," he says, "but it was worth it. I cannot fathom performing in my current role without that education." Beason also found that his having an MBA positioned him well when he started at Scientific Games. "The fact that I had pursued an MBA showed my boss that I was serious about running a business, not some geek who thought it would be fun and easy."
Bring in your own finance person. Even with an MBA degree, Beason knew he needed a finance person to help him with the finer points. "What really helped me in the first six months of running this business was sitting down with my finance guy and having him look over my shoulder at the numbers," says Beason. "He would tell me how he thought we should be treating the revenue or calculating IRR. Before I went out publicly with any statements, I needed an internal person to tell me when the king had no clothes."
Martha Heller is managing director of the IT Leadership Practice at ZRG, an executive recruiting firm in Boston. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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