Q. Were you in leadership roles early on?
A. No, I had a childhood that would be called ordinary. But my parents taught us about responsibility and instilled incredible confidence in us. My father was a World War II Marine who became a high school principal. He always had a heart for students who maybe were underprivileged or had difficulty of some sort. My mother was also a teacher; both had an incredible work ethic. They also told me that I didn’t need to pursue traditional roles.
Other lessons from them?
They demonstrated accountability to me through actions. When I was growing up, we had a widow living next door to us. So the habit was that if we went to the grocery store, we called her first. If we cut our yard, we cut her yard, no questions asked.
When you graduated from college, did you have a clear idea of what you wanted to do?
I went to work in accounting, at Arthur Andersen. At one point it was the crème de la crème. I wanted to work there because it looked like the hardest thing I could find, and I loved being on a steep learning curve. I progressed quickly, and two years out of college I was managing a small team of people.
What did you learn from that experience?