Lessons from the Controversial Female President and CEO of Yahoo!, Carol Bartz

Picture of Carol_Bartz

Despite the bucketload of controversies surrounding the personality of the incumbent Yahoo! president and CEO, Carol Bartz , her past successes and words are a testimony of her business acumen.

Carol Bartz’s full name is Carol Ann Bartz. Since her inception as Yahoo! CEO, she has implemented cost-cutting measures that have helped Yahoo double its operating income to $748 million which is greater than the goal of $630 million set by Yahoo’s board.

The Background of Carol Bartz

Carol Bartz was born in Winona, Minnesota on 29th August, 1948. She lost her mother at the age of 8 and was raised together with her younger brother, Jim, by her grandmother in Wisconsin.

Carol Bartz received a B. Sc in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1971.

She is married (with three children) to Bill Marr, a former executive at Digital Equipment Corporation and Sun Microsystems.

Carol Bartz Career Progression

Picture of Carol_Bartz

From 1976, Carol Bartz worked in several places including 3M, Digital Equipment Corporation and Sun Microsystems before becoming the CEO of Autodesk in 1992.

Carol Bartz made extremely outstanding achievements at Autodesk.

With her ‘fail-fast’ concept, she transformed Autodesk from a maker of PC software into top design software producer for architects, engineers and so on.

In addition, she was on the boards of directors of Autodesk, Intel, BEA Systems, Cisco Systems, Network Appliance and more. She also served as a member of the United States President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

On 13th January, 2009, Carol Bartz was named the CEO of the Internet Services Company, Yahoo!, taking over from the cofounder, Jerry Yang.

Carol Bartz’s Mind Exposed

In an interview on FastCompany in August 2010, Carol Bartz has this to say,

“When I started off as a boss, just like when I started off as a mom, I thought I was supposed to be the font of all knowledge … I thought that I had to have an answer, always know what to do and try to keep everything in control … You soon find out you have to let a lot of things go … You have to figure out what you’re taking a stand on and what you’re not. You have to be as explanatory as possible. You also have to be willing sometimes to dig in and say, ‘No, we’re not doing that’ ”

She said,

“I personally think that the most important thing you can be is who you are. If who you are doesn’t fit where you are, then you should go. If you’re trying to change who you are it doesn’t work”

Since people are concerned about her salty language, she unveiled her own opinion before the end of that interview. She regurgitated,

“Cursing is part of the job. Everybody has this funny reaction to it. I don’t know what the big deal is”

In January 2009, when Carol Bartz was newly appointed as the CEO of Yahoo!,  The Economist revealed their perspective of her,

“Her main qualification is that Ms Bartz has been tested in life as few people in Silicon Valley have. Her trials have turned her into a hardened, disciplined, occasionally ruthless, but often inspiring boss—exactly the sort of leader, it could be argued, that Yahoo! now desperately needs”

Her immediate words and actions buttressed these comments. She quickly revealed her next plan to weed out excess employees when she said,

“If you don’t kill a lot of plants along the way, you don’t know how to garden”

She explained the difference between leadership and management in the following statement;

“… Managing winds up being the allocation of resources against tasks. Leadership focuses on people. My definition of a leader is someone who helps people succeed … A lot of it is just picking the right team and just picking people so much better than you are, and involving them in a decision”

Asked about how she balances her career with motherhood, she responded,

“I have a belief that life isn’t about balance, because balance is perfection … Rather, it’s about catching the ball before it hits the floor.”

In an interview with Kara Swisher, she explained what she expects from her subordinates,

“You have to be willing to say, I don’t know, I made mistakes, and change. When somebody tells me they’re going to do something, I want them to do it or tell me they’re not going to do it. That’s fine …”

Final Notes

Carol Bartz’s story is a very inspiring one. In the midst of criticisms from top voices on the Internet, she succeeded in keeping her head up and shoulders high.

Further Reading on Women CEOs

  1. How Cofounder & President, Arianna Huffington Started Huffington Post & Sold to AOL for $315 million
  2. Women CEOs: How Chelsea Rustrum makes $120, 000 to $140, 000 from Her Blog annually
  3. Women CEOs: How Michelle Madhok Built an Internet Empire earning $1.3 million
  4. Lessons from the Lady Blogger, Natalie Sisson of womanzworld.com
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