Well, I feel like to be a good senior executive, you need a lot of different experiences. It’s just not all linear. The industry is going to change, the technology changes. The job you wind up in could be one that you’re not trained for every aspect of it on that day. So, having a lot of different experiences, potentially in at least a few different companies could be really valuable. I like to talk to people who have just been around the block on things. They’ve seen a whole bunch of different issues in different industries. They understand how things work. And if they see something new, they have a mental model that helps them learn about it and deal with it.
And in a lot of areas, the other thing I want to see people have experience in different areas like sales and manufacturing or finance and marketing. So, they see the whole business and how the pieces fit together. I interviewed two folks years ago. One was a senior engineer and executive who knew more than anybody else in the world about manufacturing that part of the airframe and obviously very, very smart, but that’s what he knew about. I also interviewed somebody literally the same day, who worked for a very small manufacturer. He had been in sales, marketing, quality assurance, finance, operations, and management. So, he knew how the whole business stitched together. And they were both valuable executives, but they looked at businesses very differently and understanding how businesses are all stitched together. It is more and more important the more senior you are in a company.
And lastly, spend some time getting the perspective of the customer. It might mean just visiting the customer. It could mean traveling with the deliveries and seeing how they use the products you sell, seeing how it’s used in their factory or in their business. Seeing how they make certain decisions about who they’re buying from. What’s important to them. I think looking from the customer back, there’s a very different view than looking from the supplier forward. You pay attention to a lot of different things. And having that customer view, I think is incredibly important because if there are changes coming in your industry, to your company, they’re coming from the customer first in some form.