What was your first job, and how did you get into IT?
I was a consultant for the Mexican development bank Nacional Financiera in the mid-90s. During that year I decided to move into marketing, and joined Kraft Foods Mexico as an assistant brand manager. I then studied full time for an MBA at the University of California in Los Angeles and it was very focused on technology, which sparked my interest.
Afterwards, I landed an opportunity with Dell, based in Austin, Texas. At the time, technology companies were very keen on gaining consumer marketing experience from other industries, so it was a good match and I’ve been at Dell since 1999.
Planes, trains or automobiles?
All three! I love travelling - it has been a passion since I was a little girl living in Italy. We lived in Padua and my mum used to take me to Venice for the day occasionally to get us out of the house while my father studied. Feeding the birds in St Mark’s Square is a pretty tough outing to beat when you’re under five, and no doubt had a big impact on how I like to spend my time as an adult. You could say I’m not a homebody.
In my dreams…
...there are eight days in a week, three days in a weekend and 30 hours in a day, and I only need five hours of sleep to be totally refreshed.
What was the best holiday you have ever had?
A trip to the Maldives. It was truly paradise. I enjoyed sunbathing, fishing, snorkelling in the clearest water I’ve ever seen, and the most beautiful starry nights.
Print or online news?
That’s a tough one. I love online news for the immediacy of access and timeliness, but it’s still nice to read a newspaper cover to cover over a coffee.
Do you use social media?
Yes, for both business and personal purposes, because it’s a dynamic, efficient and engaging way to build connections.
People want to feel connected and share their thoughts and experiences. We have always done it; the town square was once the place you went to read bulletin boards, chat with friends and catch up.
The new, digital way - with the explosion in popularity of social media - is exciting, but it has downsides: you can really step in it and it’s visible to many more people very quickly.
What are the traits of a perfect boss?
Clarity of vision and business objectives. He or she should trust and empower the team to make good decisions, encourage the sharing of different points of view, support the team with the resources needed, recognise accomplishments and support career development.
What is the most important thing in business?
Persistence. If the most intelligent or powerful person gives up too easily, he or she will still achieve nothing. Persistence is the key ingredient.
Kathy Schneider is European executive director for channel marketing programmes at Dell
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