An Interview with Carol Bartz

Talitenu :   Who were the early influences in your life?
Bartz :   My grandmother is an enormous influence. She's still living at 92. And, in fact, if it gives you an example of how she is, I talked to her last week and she just bought a treadmill!

She lives in Wisconsin, and it's too snowy, and she's not getting enough exercise, so she just bought a treadmill. And she's a little angry that she can only make it three minutes at a time. So she's up to 4 times a day, 3 minutes, at 92. She has a lot of guts and determination and she believes in working hard. And she was always a very fair person. She was the biggest influence in my life.

Gemperlein :   If you lost your career suddenly now, what would your backup career be? Doctor? Lawyer? Belly dancer? Landscape gardener?
Bartz :   Well, I already have backup careers. I'm, I think, I'm a nice mom. I love being a mom. I love gardening. I think in another life I would be a gardener. But I think I don't have to go into another high-powered backup career. I think I've been there, done that.
Talitenu :   What's the biggest mistake you ever made?
Bartz :   I don't know. I've made a lot of mistakes. There isn't one that stands out. I make mistakes every week, every month, every year. I would say. . . I actually wish I had started having children younger. I was 40 when I had my daughter. And I wish I would have started that younger so I could have had more children.
Gemperlein :   In an article about you in 1983 in the paper, you talked about working and dealing with your family, and the headline said that you said you can't do both. There were then letters to the editor in the paper that took you to task. Did you feel you were misinterpreted?
Bartz :   Precisely. In fact, I didn't say you can't do both. I was extremely misinterpreted. What I said, and I still believe and talk about frequently, is the subject of balance.

Where I disagree with the concept of balance is, balance in itself connotes perfection, which means that every day, I have to be a very great CEO, a great mom, a great public citizen. I should do some volunteer work, and I should call all my friends.


The whole concept of balance is, as I say, catching things before they hit the floor. If I'm working on a big project at work, (there comes a time when) it's time to go home and not think about work for a while.
And should call my grandmother. Maybe I should bake some cookies. So, everyday I should be perfect at all of these things. That doesn't work.

That puts too much strain on all of us. There are days when I have to be fully attentive to my business. . . and my family, gets maybe 20 percent of me; if I'm traveling, it gets none of me. And there are other times when it is all family.

So the whole concept of balance is, as I say, catching things before they hit the floor. If I'm working on a big project at work, (there comes a time when) it's time to go home and not think about work for a while.

Gemperlein :   Do you think that's equally true for men?
Bartz :   I think it should be. But, having said that, I think women have more of a burden on them to manage the houses, and manage the children, and manage the school interface. And so they take, they end up having more responsibility. And I think, feeling as though, therefore, they must handle all these things simultaneously.

There are events at her school I wouldn't dream of missing. I don't care if the largest customer and the Pope came to visit AutoDesk; I'd be with my daughter.

While I will not deny that daily pressure exists -- I mean, I want to see my daughter every day, just as much as the next person does -- but it's important to set the right expectations for her, and the right expectations, by the way, on the business side. There are events at her school I wouldn't dream of missing. I don't care if the largest customer and the Pope came to visit AutoDesk; I'd be with my daughter.

Talitenu :   What aspect of your work do you enjoy the most?
Bartz :   The people. I love people relationships. I love the fast pace. I love the high-tech process of having to make a lot of decisions and getting pretty quick feedback from the market.
Gemperlein :   What qualities do you have that others don't that make you good at what you do?
Bartz :   Well, I'm not sure I have some unique quality that other people don't possess. I do believe I'm a good manager. I think I listen to people; I think I'm fair. Tough, but fair. I believe that I give people a lot of chances to run and manage their jobs. And I'm there to support them. But I'm sure there are ao a lot of people that have those traits as well.
Talitenu :   What have you learned from working with people through your business life that no school could have taught you?
Bartz :   You learn relationships and you learn process throughout your whole life. And I just happen now to have lived as much of my life beyond school as I did in school. So I just have more experience. I think as much as anything that's what it is.

I love people relationships. I love the fast pace. I love the high-tech process of having to make a lot of decisions and getting pretty quick feedback from the market.

You ao learn and you have to learn once you get through school that you have to take care of yourself. In school, you're more nurtured. People, your parents, your teachers, are there to help you succeed. When you get out in the business life, frankly, you have to run your own safety net.