Petr Smida has a deep understanding of what it takes to be a successful leader across the globe. Smida’s career in banking has spanned continents and cultures. Currently, he is Chairman of the Board of Directors at Russian-based Alfa Bank, where he served as CEO from 2003-2008. Prior to joining Alfa, Smida served in executive roles at GE Capital Bank and GE Consumer Finance.
He shared his advice on global leadership in this Fuqua Q&A.
Q) You have some very practical advice for people leading global teams. You tell them to be “active listeners.” What do you mean by that and why is it so critical?
You learn much more by listening than by speaking, not only about cultures but also about a specific person or group of people. The words people use say a lot about them. And because the potential of any organization is the potential of its people, with active listening skills you make better people decisions. Active listening also communicates respect (I hear you) and creates an inclusive and engaging environment. The practice also means asking questions rather than making statements.
Sergey Glushakov knows what it takes to be successful as an information technology professional and entrepreneur. He worked his way up in the IT industry from software engineer and researcher to executive, eventually co-founding multiple companies.
Since 2007, Glushakov has been managing director of Intego Group, an outsourcing and software engineering provider. Glushakov splits his time between the US and Ukraine with a client base that also stretches into other parts of Europe and Canada.
Q) IT is an industry that is constantly evolving. How do you keep up with the rapid changes?
Success in the IT business is not so much about the innovations themselves – it is about the people who create these innovations. As such, in addition to ensuring that extensive communication is maintained with my clients and the people who drive IT industry from the business side, I try to take a grassroots approach to personal developments and business opportunities by ensuring that I am introduced to the new innovative concepts by the technology creators themselves – the software engineers.
Sparkman, left, Watson, right, at a visit to Moscow in 2007
Lee Sparkman and Rick Watson have a connection that has spanned both time and distance. Long before either became successful executives, they met in business school at Duke University.
“In those days Fuqua did not pair ‘study groups’ but rather allowed students to seek out their own colleagues,” Sparkman said. “I am unsure why, but Rick and I ended up in many of the same study groups.”
By the time their second year of business school rolled around they were housemates, along with Sparkman’s basset hound Beaufort.
When their time at Duke came to a close, Sparkman went to Florida for a job. Watson says he had some good offers from major banks in Chicago and Pittsburgh, but he felt that was not ultimately the career path he wanted to follow.
“I really wanted to do something out of the box – and with some sun – after Duke,” he said. “Lee was instrumental in helping me find my first job.”
World governments are still struggling to understand bitcoin and its ramifications for the economy, but some countries are taking harsher stances than others.
Russia recently came out with a statement urging citizens to avoid the currency. Meanwhile, the recent collapse of Mt. Gox, one of the largest Bitcoin exchanges in the world, led some skeptics to question the viability of the cryptocurrency.