On the Winning Track

By Karen Rosen, ATLANTA TREND 

Before he became a family man, Roger Fugett drove the HeadHunter.NET race car on the Sports Car Club of America circuit.

During his first practice session on the famous Daytona road course, “We’re going 30 mph and I end up spinning the car out in the turn 6 hairpin,” says Roger, Vice President of Information Technology for CareerBuilder.com, which acquired HeadHunter.NET in 2001. 

On Roger’s second lap, the same thing happened. He knew he’d better learn to adjust – and fast. Now his 8-year-old son, Avery, competes in quarter midget racing and Roger is trying to get him to test his limits.

“He’s so afraid to lose control or to spin out,” he says. “I said, ‘You’re not going to know what that limit is until you pass it and come back. So you have to make the mistake and learn from it.’”

That’s in keeping with CareerBuilder.com’s culture, which has a tolerance for failure. “That’s helped me in my career in not being afraid to try things -- and fail,” Roger says. “Maybe we’ve implemented something and we’ve wasted or spent ‘x’ amount of resources and it flopped or wasn’t the right solution. You turn around and have to learn from it. What did we do right or wrong?”

Roger and the 100 or so people he oversees do project post-mortems, also called project replays. “These post-mortems aren’t all about the negative,” he says. “It’s also, ‘What did we do well in?’ So it’s that constant cycle of getting that feedback.”

Judging from CareerBuilder’s track record, the successes far outweigh the failures. CareerBuilder.com is the nation’s largest online job site, with more than 23 million unique visitors a month and 1.6 million jobs. Surpassing Monster.com in both traffic and revenue, CareerBuilder.com powers the career centers for more than 1,200 partners, including 140 newspapers and leading portals such as America Online and MSN. More than 300,000 employers take advantage of CareerBuilder.com’s job postings.

“What is a Leader?”

One of Roger’s favorite articles is a Harvard Business Review piece called, “What is a leader?” “It talks about emotional intelligence and self-awareness and how you self-reflect,” he says. “It’s helped me within my communication and how I work with people, the empathy towards what they’re trying to do.”

Roger grew up in Illinois and received an Electronics and Computer Technology degree from DeVry. His first job was with a voice messaging company in Chicago called Async, where he was on the engineering side. He transferred to Atlanta in 1992 and moved into a role in application development.

In November of 1995, Roger took a job with Advanced Technology Consultants as a senior software engineer and a technical team lead in application development. The customers were mostly telecommunications companies and one of the products was a system that tracked drivers for more effective dispatching. At ATC, Roger met Eric Presley, now CareerBuilder.com’s Chief Technology Officer.

In May 1999, Roger joined Presley at Headhunter, where he initially worked in software development and on the Web site. He progressed into starting CareerBuilder.com’s data warehouse, which collects behavior on the Web site. For example, “What are people searching for in Kansas City?”

Such information can be used by the sales force to match companies with job openings in a specific city with a pool of applicants.

Roger also moved into managing more of the company’s financial applications, which were built from the ground up and are tightly integrated with the CareerBuilder.com platform.

Executive MBA Program

As part of CareerBuilder focus on education, he went through Georgia Tech’s executive MBA program and graduated in December 2008.

“That was probably one of the toughest things I’ve done in my life,” Roger says. He was not only married with two children, he had just been promoted at CareerBuilder.com in the middle of the program.

Roger says the MBA program helped him make better decisions about investing resources while also getting the IT team properly aligned with the company’s business objectives.

“I believe that the industry is changing in the way that we are able to provide more services outside of a job posting or resume database,” Roger says. “That’s still core to us, but we’re reaching into these other areas of providing data. We’re looking more at data as an asset. “

CareerBuilder also compiles data on job market conditions, including salary and compensation.

The company also launched the “Personified” consulting firm, which focuses on other human capital solutions, such as assessing whether or not a company has the right diversity program in place for its hiring needs or where the company should open up another location based on the applicant resources available in that area.

“Personified is trying to monetize more of the behavior information or content that we have,” Roger says.

Posing with Presidents

As he’s climbed the corporate ladder, Roger has preferred staying out of the spotlight and is known for being very humble. But he couldn’t resist posing for photographs with Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Colin Powell and Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric, when they appeared at CareerBuilder’s sales kickoff events. Roger has the photos framed and they are in a prominent position on his office wall.

He was particularly eager to talk to Welch, whose book, “Winning,” is one of his favorites.

“He talks about surrounding himself with good smart people, smarter than him, and being OK with that,” says Roger, who has the photos on his office wall. “Maybe you don’t have all the answers in the room, and you have to be comfortable with that.

“That’s always stuck with me. And it makes me a better listener.”

Roger says that in his interactions with business leaders or while discussing solutions with his team, he uses amplified listening. He then asks questions that may seem obvious, he says, “but if you don’t know and they’re assuming you know, you’re setting yourself up for failure.”

But did Welch believe he really was the smartest person in the room? “I think he did,” Roger says with a laugh, “But I think the people around him didn’t feel he had all the answers, and that’s what made them open up.”

Secrets to Success

1. Relationships and building trust. “As you work with people, you focus on character and not so much on their skills or their reputation, but just understanding them and really connecting with what their needs are.”

2. Communication and active listening. “I think people open up to me because I really try to understand their concerns or their issues. I think I have a knack for asking those questions -- they may be obvious questions -- but playing devil’s advocate really helps me get to the core of the conversation.”

3. Impart your vision and make others feel like it’s their idea. “It’s letting them have more accountability and empowerment to make those decisions.”

4. Don’t be afraid to try things and fail. “I think one of the best ways to learn is to fail at something.” 

Roger Fugett is Vice President of Information Technology at CareerBuilder.com. ATLANTA TREND expresses its thanks and deep appreciation to Roger Fugett for sharing his thoughts with us.



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