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Shauna Ryan King gets Brilliant Results

Posted By Robert Wray, Thursday, July 21, 2011
Updated: Thursday, July 21, 2011
Shauna Ryan King believes things happen for a reason. "Sometimes they don't show up for years," she jokes. But Yale University calling her to offer her a position was one of those times. A chance to take everything she'd learned and get back to her career after taking time off her long-time work with PepsiCo to be a soccer mom. 

"If I was going to take this type of work again, I wanted to do it for something that was really meaningful."

Does Yale qualify? We'd say so. That's where they invented chemotherapy. The first day on the job she shook hands with the president of China. (She is the vice president of finance and business operations at Yale University, after all).

In her impressive history, she's learned it's important to like the people you work with, to like who you're going to work with. "I've learned a lot about pushing back, to have the guts and have done the homework," she says. 

On a bad day, she keeps this picture in her head of one of the recent tsunamis--of a woman in labor up a tree with flood water underneath her. "It can always be worse," she says.

You not only have to figure out where you going, what the probable case is in the future. "We're in a time where you need to know all the risks associated with the idea. You need to have multiple plans--What is your response when things take a turn?" she asks. "These days, you need a Plan B and a Plan C."

At Yale, she is working with the med school to figure out how to weather crushing revenue loss. "I encourage you to look inside and have people take a meat cleaver to your processes," she says. "You want the right people in the right seat." She likes small teams of real problem solvers. 

No matter what, your team has to believe in what they're doing. They have to focus on what they're doing, they have to want to come to work each day and deliver results.

What goes into choosing a good team? It starts with integrity--You have to be honest. You have to do what you say you're going to do. You have to be fair, humble. You have to listen and have good judgment. Being able to see around the corner and connect the dots. "It's important to build a sense of shared purpose," she says. "It's stronger than any other thing you can do as a leader."

She belongs to a book club at Yale and recently read (and recommends) Marvin Bower's "The Will to Lead."

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