Chairman Shares Secrets of Success at Dean’s Leadership Series
|Dean John Chalykoff talks with Frank Martire in the Forum|
Frank Martire, executive chairman of Fidelity National Information Services (FIS), emphasized the need for fairness, accountability and passion in the workplace during a talk Wednesday at Sacred Heart University’s Jack Welch College of Business (WCOB).
Martire, who also is chairman of Sacred Heart University’s Board of Trustees, spoke to a crowd of students, faculty, staff and alumni as part of the WCOB’s Dean’s Leadership Series. The event took place in SHU’s Frank and Marisa Martire Business & Communications Center, named after him and his wife.
John Chalykoff, WCOB dean, led the conversation with questions for Martire about his career and business success. Martire said his first job was in the technology department at Connecticut National Bank. He had the opportunity to earn more money by participating in a management-training program, but he told the audience he decided to pass on it because, “I had a passion for technology. In the short term it may hurt, not getting a raise, but you have to follow your passion and what you enjoy doing.”
His decision paid off. Martire, a Bridgeport native who graduated from SHU in 1969, has been CEO of Fidelity Information Services, an international provider of financial technology solutions, since 2009. Before that, he was CEO of Metavante Technologies, another financial technology services company.
Chalykoff asked Martire if becoming a CEO and earning leadership roles were part of a “grand plan.” Martire said that with each position he had, he wanted to do the best job possible. “Some people have a grand plan, and I’m not saying it doesn’t work, but for me, I didn’t have that approach.” Instead, he worked as hard as he could at each job and often was rewarded with a promotion.
Holding major leadership roles means holding great responsibilities, Martire said, and when things get tough, a leader must be open and honest. “They’ll know if you’re being honest with them or not,” he said.
He told Chalykoff one of the principles by which he lives is to do what’s fair. “Do what’s fair, stay objective and get rewarded,” he said.
Another principle Martire said he lives by is to maintain a good attitude. “If you go into work being negative, the people around you tend to be negative too,” he said. “Sure, you have to be realistic, but you can be optimistic. I think those are important characteristics to have.”
Prompted by one of Chalykoff’s last questions, Martire also discussed the charitable work in which he and his wife engage, donating time and money to education and health-care causes. “We always said if we get the opportunity to give back, we’re going to do it,” he said.
After the conversation with Chalykoff, Martire took questions from the audience, including one from a student who asked Martire about the best life advice he ever received. Martire shared a story from early in his career about a long couple of nights he spent in his office, trying to get a software program to work. After he and others failed to complete the task, Martire provided his supervisor with a long explanation of what went wrong. His supervisor responded, “Never confuse efforts with results.”
“I learned to accept my responsibilities. When you fail, just say you failed. I didn’t find excuses; I just owned up to what I’d done. I’m glad I learned that early on in my life,” Martire said.
After fielding questions from other students and alumni about business and growing up in Bridgeport, Martire offered a final piece of advice: “Stay true to yourself; people will recognize you for that.”