Magazine News Blogger

Spring 2009

The former CIO of the FBI tells students to develop soft skills to succeed

Often visiting speakers will get so caught up conveying their message that they run out of time for a question and answer period.

Darwin John spoke to one of Katherine Chudoba’s Management Information Systems classes in 2008, and his question and answer period went beyond most. It included him asking each of the students individually to articulate what they had learned.

Whether he realized it or not, John was demonstrating some of the soft skills he has developed that have made him such a powerful leader.

“The hard skills, the technical skills, those kinds of skills are what get you in the door,” he said. “The soft skills are what cause you to succeed. If you don’t have the soft skills, you’ll drop out early. ”

John should know a little about success.

John served for more than 12 years as the managing director of information and communication systems worldwide for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He has also served as the CIO of the FBI, and as a special advisor to the director of the FBI and member of the FBI’s Science and Technology Board. CIO.com called John “a gentlemanly forefather of the CIO profession.” He was inducted into the CIO Hall of Fame where they dubbed him the “Father of Database Management.” He is now a strategic advisor to Blackwell, Management and Information Technology Consultants.

John, who is also the chair of the Advisory Board for the Management Information Systems department, talked with the students on a range of topics, nearly all of them relating to ethical leadership. John has proven a popular speaker at the Huntsman School of Business and has talked several times to different groups of Huntsman students.

He told the students to make sure their vocational plans fit into their life plans and mission.

“If you have a life mission that is out of synch with your life career plan, that’s not going to work well over time,” he said.

He also talked of the importance of being trustworthy.

“I refuse to have someone on my leadership team who I don’t trust absolutely,” he said. “When you say you are going to do something, you do it. No one has to follow up on you. No one has to check. You just do it.”

He also told them that they would need to be able to adapt to change.

He said a good friend of his said, “In today’s world you only need to be good at two things. You need to be good at learning and you need to be good at changing. If you get those two things down, all else will follow.”