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How has all this influenced your leadership style?

By CIOinsight  |  Posted 06-24-2010 Print

How has all this influenced your leadership style?

JONES: My inspiration came from my parents. In high school, I was told to go to secretarial school, because that's what women did [at that time]. So I went to secretarial school in Chicago and worked for an assistant editor of Women's Day magazine.

But my mother motivated me to go to college and not stop until I got my BS and MBA, which I did in four years. She continued to motivate and inspire me to go beyond what was easy and stretch for the most I could do.

My experiences at IBM taught me the language of business. The company put me through training for 16 weeks, four weeks at a time. We were sent to Georgia to learn how companies do general ledger, accounts payable, payroll, billing, inventory control, etc. We learned how to do it manually, then went back and did work in the branch offices. At the time, I was a systems engineer trainee. Then we went back to Georgia to learn how to do those things in an automated way, and we took that back to our jobs.

Johnson & Johnson taught me the health care aspects of business, making me look at it from a consumer perspective. I learned about consumer products, in-vitro diagnostics, immunohematology and how to work within an FDA-regulated framework. And I learned about cell therapy from our oncology company.

All the way, as I stumbled and fell, I learned how to get back up. I made mistakes and took the scars. I lost people I shouldn't have lost. I failed at a project I shouldn't have failed at, but those failures allowed me to say, "I'll never do that again." So I got better and smarter every time.

When I got to Hospira, I had a lot of scars, but I had learned along the way that when you fall down, you don't just lie there: You get back up, because you know you can, and you know you'll go farther when you do.

So much of who you are is where you've been. I've been at IBM. I've been at J&J. I've been in the secretarial ranks. I've been on the other side of racial and gender discrimination. I know what it feels like to be appreciated, to achieve, to be rebuked and cast aside. So I appreciate the diversity in other people, and I've learned not do to others what has been done to me.

I don't want another mother or father or sister or brother to have what happened to my parents happen to them. That truly motivates me.

A few months ago, I spoke to about 150 women at one of the outsourcing companies we use, Wipro in India. I spoke about unleashing the leadership within. I was motivated to speak with them because, as a woman, I was told I wouldn't amount to much. My passion is to make sure that doesn't happen to others.

You don't hear a lot of CIOs talk about their passion for what they do, or why they got into IT in the first place.

JONES: Being a success is achieving a goal; being successful is always having another goal in mind. I'm always striving for that next thing.

If you find something that motivates you and you are passionate about it, you'll do it very, very well. If you just have a job and don't know the purpose of that job, you'll just do the job without being very engaged.

At Hospira, we measure the engagement of our employees--how much they think about their jobs or the business in their spare time. The more people think about their jobs when they don't have to, the more engaged they are. The more engaged they are, the more problems are solved. You get a competitive weapon that can propel you beyond the competition.

That's how I am. The trick is, How do I take my passion and make it viral in my IT organization and in the rest of Hospira? How can we use our drugs and investments in R&D to help improve people's conditions?

If we can get passionate about why we're here, we'll have a highly engaged workforce, which will develop capabilities faster and get them to patients faster.


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