I’ve worked in tech for over 20 years. And today marks the end of an era. Steve Jobs has passed, Bill Gates is no longer Chairman at Microsoft, and now Larry Ellison stepped down as CEO of Oracle. In an industry of great leaders, I’m taking a moment to reflect the passing of the torch.
I worked at Oracle for five years in the early 2000s. These were very formative years for me from a career perspective. I learned a lot working at a company led by Larry Ellison.
Most importantly, nothing cements a company culture more than a strong leader at the helm. Ellison has a very definitive management style and you could see it manifesting throughout the management team and cascading to all employees. Many great tech leaders cut their teeth in Ellison’s organization including Marc Benioff and Tom Siebel. A direct approach, self-confidence and a competitive nature are all traits that resonated in the Oracle culture. And that culture started at the top.
I only attended a few meetings in which I had direct interaction with Larry, but those meetings were memorable for me. I learned a few really great lessons:
- Less is more. Be direct and succinct when presenting. Immediately get to your point. Don’t waste an executive’s time – especially one as busy as Larry Ellison.
- Know when to shut up. My very first time to present to Larry, I was so nervous I got tongue tied when he had concerns with my pricing proposal. I was a little like a “deer in the headlights” and did not know what to say. Because of my silence, he answered his own question and approved my proposal. I learned a valuable lesson – know when to keep quiet.
While I am excited to see what this next generation of great leaders has in store for the technology industry, I am a bit nostalgic for the glory days of Silicon Valley.