This month’s Core Connections Feature highlights Diane Schwarz, VP/CIO of Textron. I was introduced to Diane by the Textron corporate HR team two few years ago to fill a search for the leader of the global US/IT HR Function- a direct report to Diane. One of the things that most impresses me about Diane is her amazing understanding and appreciation for the human resources function and how it impacts and benefits her organization specifically and company as a whole. I was blown away by the depth of her knowledge in this area and the passion she brought to the table… more so than any IT/IS leader for whom I have ever worked.
How do you lead differently now than you did five or 10 years ago?
I have to “take my hands off the keyboard.” When you transition from being a leader of individual contributors, to being a leader of leaders, you need to shift your activities to strategizing, visioning, developing, communicating and networking. Gone are the days of producing deliverables and resolving operational challenges.
Tell us about a time when you took a substantial risk that paid off (or backfired).
Nearly every career move I ever made was a risk, but I made each one additive to my development. The first risk was running a start-up company right after college; another was when I moved out from a shadow IT role, and into running IT.
Is there a quote that you always tend to bring up in meetings?
Make IT easy. If you don’t tell anyone about “it,” whatever “it” is that you created or delivered, it’s as if “it” doesn’t exist.
What’s your next big goal?
Traveling more to exotic locations, enjoying every minute I have in front of me, because I believe there’s more time behind me than there is in front of me, and preparing a slate of leaders for fulfilling careers.
Who has been a mentor to you? Tell us about them.
Women managers early in my career helped me see that I didn’t have to sacrifice my individuality in order to succeed, but that I did need to execute superbly.
Carrie, a senior leader at E&Y, spent her free time performing on stage. I always thought that took such courage, and will always remember her for how she drove me to hone my estimating skills. Budgets, forecasts, project plans, timeline – ?I rely on those every day, it’s a critical art. Carrie also shared with me that I’m a very creative individual. Not artsy, but creative in envisioning and developing business solutions. Her perception of me was instrumental in my own self-awareness. I owe her a thank you phone call.
And Deanne, a partner at E&Y, showed me that you could be a mother and a professional. Be bold, and don’t make excuses. She brought her newborn to a partner conference. She inspired me to bring my newborn on a cross-country job interview. Family and health need to come before anything else, and we need to live true to those principles.
What keeps you coming back each day? What’s the best part for you?
The opportunity to impact people’s careers and live – ?it’s so fulfilling when someone thanks me for helping them navigate their career, develop themselves, find opportunities or gain perspective.
What’s the biggest change or shift in your industry that you’ve seen in the last 10 years?
Technology today looks nothing like it did in the past. We barely had smartphones 10 years ago, and now more people own a smartphone than a toothbrush. Technologists today need to be exceptionally agile learners, and can no longer rely on deep skills in just one area as that area could be obsolete tomorrow.
What do you always have near you during business hours?
Droid or iPhone? Mac or PC?
Droid and PC.
Coke or Pepsi?
Coke Zero, specifically. But a fine amber sipping rum served neat is my first choice.
Best place to vacation?
Anywhere I haven’t yet experienced or explored.
What’re you listening to these days?
Blink-182 and emo bands only your kids would know.