Educational Background: St. Petersburg University, Russia (computer science); MIT Sloan Fellows Program
Current or most recent position: CEO, Noventra Corporation; Founder and Vice-Chair, MIT Enterprise Forum of South Florida; Member of Common Angels
It was the early 1980s and I was confronting what would be, very possibly, the most pivotal decision of my life. A choice between a comfortable existence in the Soviet Union, including a high-level position at the top university-and leaving the country, alone and pregnant, with ninety dollars in my pocket. It was also a choice between intellectual freedom and operating within the limits imposed by the Soviet regime.
Well, I chose risk and freedom and it was the right decision. In fact, I date my interest in the art and science of decision making to that period. I wondered then why some decisions are more difficult than others and what it takes to make such choices effectively. Was there a state of mind that enabled us to make tough decisions easier?
These questions simmered in the back of my mind during the next two decades. Then I found myself at a crossroads again. I had come to the realization that I'd done all the things I'd set out to do in my career. I had wanted to rise through the ranks to the upper echelon of a large company, and I'd done that at GE. I had wanted to run my own show at a publicly-traded company, and I'd done that as President and CEO of Celerity Solutions. I'd wanted to succeed as an entrepreneur — and I'd launched and sold a successful company.
Removing myself from the field of play for six months gave me a chance to “reframe.” It was something I'd learned back in the MIT Sloan Fellows Program a decade earlier. The world is bigger than you think. Look for the opportunities. Reframe your perspective.
I plunged into everything that interested me. I started a Florida chapter of the MIT Enterprise Forum. I also was able to synthesize all my thinking about decision-making — the culmination of my experience with leaders like Jack Welch at GE, with teams of MIT Sloan Fellows, with entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. Then, as a visiting scholar at MIT Sloan, I was able to collaborate closely with faculty and an amazing group of CEOs to write the book that's been germinating in my head for so long.
The Right Decision Every Time was published by Prentice Hall in 2005 and it's been translated into several languages including Mandarin, Korean, and Russian. Most important, it has helped real people make winning decisions.
Now I am launching Noventra, a business consulting, training, and executive coaching firm that helps leaders develop great strategies, build leadership focus, and align employees behind them for rapid execution and high impact.
New paths, fresh challenges, exciting discoveries — that's exactly what makes me happy.