Jen Boudevin

Innovation was the word of the day Wednesday afternoon as a near-capacity crowd filled the Spanos Theater for a speech by Jeff Henley, chairman of the board of directors of Oracle Corp.

His presentation, “Collaborate to Innovate – Critical Skills and Technologies for Tomorrow’s Global Leaders,” emphasized the importance of constant innovation in business, discussed why globalization may not be as threatening as it is often portrayed, and outlined key factors for both personal and business success.

Oracle, the largest enterprise software vendor, is an innovation-driven company, he explained, and its ability to execute on innovation is key.

“We certainly like to think that we are innovative,” he said, “but quite frankly we are responding to the innovation of others.”

He cited the necessity of a company to get its products on the market ahead of the competition – “speed to market,” in business lingo.

On the topic of growing concerns of a global marketplace, Henley thinks the concern may be for naught.

“Understand that we are entering a global world; don’t be threatened by it,” Henley said. “As long as we take advantage of this global world we will be successful.”

In terms of suggestions for success on a less-global scale, Henley had a few key points to share with the audience.

“My advice to you is to find something you really like and go for it,” he said. “Don’t be afraid to take some risks. Don’t reach too hard and fall on your face, but you have to stress yourself to some degree.”

He recommended gaining experience in multiple industries, as well as internationally, thinking outside the box, developing personal integrity and maintaining a strong corporate governance ethic as means for success.

He emphasized the importance of finding work that excites you, saying, “If you aren’t turned on every day you go to work, you won’t be successful.”

Henley served as Oracle’s chief financial officer and an executive vice president from 1991 to 2004, and joined the board of directors in June 1995.

He visited Cal Poly as part of the Orfalea College of Business’ Distinguished Speaker Series. The Orfalea College of Business, College of Engineering and San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce sponsored the presentation.

Despite Henley’s many recommendations for achievement, his point was simple and eloquent: “At the end of the day, you can’t go wrong with common sense and good business judgment.”

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