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This article originally appeared in the Bentley Magazine.
Before you can lead, you have to give people a reason to follow.
That lesson has always hit home for Chris Lynch ’91 MBA, a respected veteran in the technology industry. He specializes in taking businesses to their next phase of development — whether through IPO, growth, or acquisition — and knows the keys to moving an organization onward and upward.
“The best advice for someone who’s walking into a new situation is to listen and make sure they understand the current state of the company,” says Lynch, who recently signed on as president and CEO of analytical database firm Vertica. “Find an opportunity to add value in a specific way. Do that without any fanfare — lead by example — and build some credibility.”
Born in New York state, Lynch grew up in Arlington, Mass., and earned his bachelor’s degree in business management at Suffolk University. He came to Bentley for graduate study and cites the program’s flexibility — he worked full-time at Digital Equipment Corporation while earning his MBA — as a key selling point.
The alumnus got his start on the front line of business: sales. Firsthand interaction with customers and direct exposure to the marketplace are among the best foundations for career building, according to Lynch.
“Being in sales gets you finely tuned from the beginning on what drives any successful company: its customers,” he says. “It gets you focused on the end game.”
Lynch’s 25-plus years of senior management experience includes helping to reorganize myriad tech-driven companies. For example, he was instrumental in the acquisition of Acopia Networks by F5 Networks. He played a major role in the initial public offering by ArrowPoint as well as in the company’s $5.7 billion acquisition by Cisco.
Competence is Security
Though some rules of the game have changed for recent business graduates, Lynch believes that the opportunities are there for those with the right preparation.
“For today’s business students, competence is job security. And the foundation of competence is education,” he explains “A tremendous education, like the kind you get at Bentley, gives you the confidence to go out in the world and execute.”
The challenges that Lynch is working to execute at Vertica center on growing the base of the emerging company and expanding its footprint in the marketplace. Current clients include JP Morgan Chase, Verizon, Zynga, Mozilla and Comcast, which use software by the Massachusetts-based firm to analyze huge volumes of data in real time.
“Vertica has built a database that’s going to change business,” says Lynch, while noting that innovation must rest on solid business practices. “You have to be committed to delivering value to customers – that hasn’t changed. People get caught up in certain trends, but if you focus on those principles, and work hard, you’re going to be successful.”
Bentley University’s Co-Provost and Dean of Arts and Sciences Daniel Everett talked with us recently about a wide range of topics, including being featured in a new book by Tom Wolfe, two of his own upcoming books, the importance of studying the origins of language, and the value of a fusion approach to business education.