Adam Bryant conducts interviews of senior-level executives that appear in his “Corner Office” column each week in the SundayBusiness section of The New York Times. Here are a few insights provided during an interview of Dion Weisler, chief executive of HP Inc., which sells personal computers and printers stresses open communication. To read the complete interview, check out other articles, and obtain subscription information, please click here.
Photo credit: Earl Wilson/The New York Times
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What were your early years like?
I was born in Melbourne, Australia, and had a normal childhood. As an immigrant, my dad didn’t have much of a formal education. He studied watchmaking as an apprentice, and eventually built an incredible career in retail, overseeing the largest men’s wear chain in Melbourne. He then started his own chain of stores.
He was always generous with his time and knowledge, telling us what he was doing every day. He would talk about his challenges and how he had to have a cup of coffee with one of his employees. That was code for things weren’t quite going right.
And your mother?
She really dedicated her life to us. She was a teacher, and she gave that up when we were born. She always helped us with homework and provided a lot of love and nurturing.
Do you see their influence in your leadership style today?
Definitely. The proverbial cup of coffee — which means we need to chat — threads through things I do today. And I run what I call a “locker room” concept for my team.
It’s a safe place, so you can do whatever you like in the locker room. We will have it out in there, because we don’t always agree, and that’s good because diversity makes us stronger. But when we leave the locker room, we leave as a team. A lot of that came from how my dad dealt with problems.
It’s about making yourself accessible by getting out there and having very natural conversations with all sorts of people. I’ll walk into one of our offices and chat for 10 minutes with the person at the front desk. I tend to learn more from them than I do from stuff that’s filtered through six layers of management by the time it gets to me.
What kinds of things were you involved in as a kid outside class?
I got into swimming at an early age. I was not a natural swimmer, but I worked really hard. I was always first in the pool and last out of the pool.
I swam probably more than I slept. It requires a certain discipline to swim at a state and national level. It gave me a sense of purpose, and it released a lot of energy.
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Adam Bryant, deputy national editor of The New York Times, oversees coverage of education issues, military affairs, law, and works with reporters in many of the Times’ domestic bureaus. He also conducts interviews with CEOs and other leaders for Corner Office, a weekly feature in the SundayBusiness section and on nytimes.com that he started in March 2009. In his book, The Corner Office: Indispensable and Unexpected Lessons from CEOs on How to Lead and Succeed, (Times Books), he analyzes the broader lessons that emerge from his interviews of hundreds of business leaders. To read an excerpt, please click here. To contact him, please click here.