George Roberts, former executive vice president at Oracle, addressed Wisconsin MBA students as part of the Weikel Executive Speaker Series, a program designed to provide MBA students with opportunities to learn from and interact with successful industry leaders. Roberts graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1979 with a BBA in marketing and finance.
During his presentation, Roberts provided a context for good management reflecting back on his experiences at Oracle from 1990-2003. He told students about the importance of making decisions, reputation earned through integrity, providing focus, and creating a safe place to test ideas and learn from mistakes when leading teams.
“Being able to admit and work through your mistakes is how you learn. No one is perfect,” Roberts told the audience. “You need to create an environment where people can fail so they can learn.”
While at Oracle, Roberts contributed to the companies growth to $10 billion in revenue and was in charge of over 2,000 employees. He shared some advice on managing for the long-term with an eye towards sustainability and integrity:
“Building a sustainable business, is in my mind, absolutely critical. A lot of companies sacrifice the long-term for the short-term,” he commented. “After every quarter, there is another quarter.”
“Your reputation is the one thing of value that you can take with you throughout your life, and your reputation comes from integrity,” Roberts added. “The ability, come crunch time, to stick true to the values and do what’s right versus what might be convenient or expedient or short-term to make an objective is really crucial to being successful.”
Roberts is currently serving as Venture Partner for OpenView Partners—a venture capital firm focused on helping technology companies meet their goals by using strategy, focus, and operational execution.