What Aspiring Executives Can Learn from Oracle’s Mark Hurd


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Image via Flickr by Oracle PR

Aspiring executives who are looking for a successful professional to mirror can find lots to admire in Mark Hurd’s stellar career. Among other awards, he’s been recognized as one of the “50 Who Matter Now” by Business 2.0 on multiple occasions, and he earned the 2008 “CEO of the Year” title from the San Francisco Chronicle. Take a few lessons from Hurd’s own career and writings, and you may uncover some of the elusive keys to business success.

There’s Value in Starting from the Bottom

It’s easy to look at the soaring success of today’s executives and set your sights straight to the top, but there’s value in working up slowly from the bottom as well. You don’t have to rocket to a leadership position right after college to establish yourself as a successful business professional. In fact, several years at the bottom can provide invaluable experience and insights that will serve you well for the rest of your career.

Many people look at Mark Hurd and think of his career as something that began with his appointment as CEO and president of NCR, but he achieved this only after spending 25 years at the company. He worked his way up from a position as a junior salesman, followed by jobs in sales and marketing, operations, and general management. Settle in for the long haul and work hard, even at the bottom, and you may find an executive position in your future.

Relationships Drive Growth

In the technology industry, it’s easy to lose sight of relationships when the prevailing vision focuses on products and innovations. Though Oracle is investing millions in research, Hurd continues to keep his sights set on building relationships. He recognizes that customers ultimately want to talk to other customers and receive solid referrals before investing in new technology.

One of Oracle’s strongest assets is its sales culture. During the Oracle OpenWorld gathering, Hurd saw 575 customers in less than four days. It’s clear that Hurd still knows the value of personal relationships, and aspiring executives will do well to follow his example.

You Have to Stay a Step Ahead

Mark Hurd keeps his sights on the horizon, and is well-known for his insistence that there’s always more for his company to do. Under his leadership, Hewlett-Packard enjoyed five years of revenue gains. Named one of the “25 Most Powerful People in Business” by Fortune Magazine in 2007, it’s clear that his strategies work.

Hurd is known for regularly proclaiming, “We’ve got a lot of work to do here,” and it’s this attitude that’s helped him keep his companies consistently at the top. Today, Hurd is looking forward to the Internet of Things and the data revolution. Staying ahead of the trends and on top of future developments is an important key to staying on top.

Strategy is King

Hurd has always prioritized strategy over vision. It’s more important to know how you’ll reach your goals than to simply paint a lovely picture of them. By strategically aligning operations, and particularly sales, with the company’s overall strategy, Hurd has experienced major success with every company he has presided over.

You Can Make Mergers Work

Blending two powerful companies with strong corporate cultures into one cohesive behemoth is no small task, and it’s something at which even a well-prepared executive can fail quite easily. When Hewlett-Packard and Compaq began their merger, Carly Fiorina was the CEO of HP. Though she did extensive integration planning, some business experts believe her downfall ultimately came as a result of putting too much emphasis on short-term goals with little consideration given to long-term issues.

When Mark Hurd took over as CEO to smooth over the bumps created by the merger, he was able to simplify many of Fiorina’s complex plans. With an in-depth understanding of the companies’ corporate cultures, he brought the newly formed technology behemoth back on track.

Mark Hurd has proven time and again that his strategy-focused style works astoundingly well. NCR, Hewlett-Packard, and Oracle have all thrived under his leadership. With Hurd’s inspiration to follow, the executives of the future may find similar success within their reach.

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