Your reaction to at this point is probably, ``That's it? What about experience in high-tech, or international companies, or CAD, or in public companies. What about the size and nature of the organisations the person has run?''
I believe we must be interested in every aspect of each candidate's background, weighing them in terms of the extent they demonstrate his qualifications or lack thereof to meet the challenges that will be waiting on the desk the morning he sits down at it the first time. But as far as I'm concerned, the only requirements are the ones I listed.
I believe people with a wide variety of backgrounds could succeed as CEO of Autodesk, which is not to say the job is easy; only that being a CAD guru, a numbers whiz, or a super salesman isn't the single background that qualifies one to do it.
The most essential part of the process of selecting a CEO will be the interviews the candidate has with the operating managers of the company, the people he will, if chosen, have to rely on to implement the policies and strategy he develops, or develop and/or replace if they do not. If we select a candidate who is enthusiastically endorsed by Ruth Connolly, John Lynch, Pete O'Dell, Lew Goldklang, Richard Cuneo, Frank Balinson, Tom Mahood, Volker Kleinn, Scott Davis, and Marc LeBrun, I'm not going to lose any sleep over whether the person is likely to succeed in the job, even if I'd never met the guy. In the process of interviewing candidates, one of the most important indicators I expect to use is the individual's reaction to the various people he has met already within Autodesk. If the person has the right sense of people, he's probably going to be able to get the job done.
As unlikely as it may seem that the list of people I reeled off would ever agree on anything, it is essential that any candidate not only pass the scrutiny of the overwhelming majority of these people, not only as somebody who's ``OK'', but as a person they're excited about reporting to. And if one or two individuals dissent, then it's likely their careers at Autodesk may not continue far into the term of the new CEO, as the first priority of any new CEO must be assembling a team he can work with effectively.
Although I certainly believe that choosing the next CEO is the most important decision Autodesk faces at this time, I'm not as worried about our choosing unwisely as most of the people I speak to seem to be. I believe there is a tremendous pool of wisdom in the operating and middle managers at Autodesk, the people who now feel so frustrated at not being permitted to carry out the plans that seem so obvious to them. I am confident that when they see a person for whom they could work, a person who would support them in turning Autodesk around, they will recognise that talent, endorse the person, and urge the board to select him. We're probably going to have to interview more people than we'd like to, but I think we'll be able to conclude the search with satisfaction and confidence, not in frustration and acceptance of a ``least-bad'' alternative.
Editor: John Walker