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Gambling on Gerstner

Newsletter • volume 1 • number 8

Louis Gerstner, former chairman and CEO of RJR Nabisco Holdings Corp., was chosen to take over "Big Blue." Hoping to dig out sagging stock values and failing profits, IBM board members chose Gerstner to start shoveling.

However, Gerstner lacks the technological experience some believe is a must at IBM. "He's going to be on a very, very steep learning curve," former IBM executive, David Hanna told the Wall Street Journal.

Among the qualifications that allowed Gerstner to move from consumer goods into high technology was his ability to ask good questions. Here is what other professionals had to say about this skill in Gerstner. Notice how these comments relate to interviewing skills:

"If Gerstner can . . . find the right people to trust, he might do fine." ­ Steve Jobs, chairman, NeXT Computer.

"He has a great capacity to pick terrific people." ­ Warren Bennis, author of An Invented Life: Reflections on Leadership and Change.

"He asks good questions. He has learned an awful lot about our business." ­ Robert Allen, chairman & CEO, AT&T.