Goizueta alumni hold more than a coveted degree from Emory; they also boast a wealth of life experiences and business know-how. In this ongoing series, EmoryBusiness.com will share their sage advice, which you can add to your own toolkit.

Jared Susco 07MBA
Chief Financial Officer
Benefits Data Trust (Philadelphia)

What influence from childhood still resonates with you?

I still remember the profound sensation of reading Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach for the first time, as it catalyzed an awakening in me regarding purpose, passion and self. My appreciation for its message has evolved as I have matured.

What’s on your music playlist?

Anything by Arvo Pärt, Celine Dion, or Barenaked Ladies.

What’s the best career or life advice you’ve received?

“Every strength has a shadow; every weakness has a shield.”
As we manage more people, we need to be mindful that our strengths may fail us in different situations. We need to expand our repertoire of leadership skills to bring the right tool to the moment, and we need to surround ourselves with forthright colleagues who provide us with useful feedback when we’re over-using a strength or under-acknowledging a weakness.

What hobbies or activities do you enjoy outside of work?

Hiking, traveling, reading, cooking…and most of all, spending time with my family.

How do you define success?

Leaving an organization and its people−and especially my team−in a more capable place to achieve their vision than when I arrived, and building relationships along the way through which we all grow and support each other.

Share the way you work through a complex problem (personal or professional).

My last boss taught me to “make sure we are solving the right problem.” I spend a lot of time with all stakeholders in the “fuzzy front-end” to build a shared understanding of the complexity we face, especially when opinions vary and stakes are high. I find that this clarification process illuminates better questions for deeper analysis. I then use the skills I learned through my Goizueta concentration in decision sciences to probe in a spirit of inquiry and generate integrative insights—and to know when enough is enough. As long as we reach a decision through a “high-quality conversation,” as Professor Patrick Noonan taught me (i.e., through a data-driven, legitimate process), I find complex problems manageable, and often inspiring.

What is your best Goizueta or Emory memory?

Thinking back on any of the valuable lessons from the Goizueta Advanced Leadership Academy, and how I was totally incapable at that time of valuing the lessons in the power of emotional intelligence, which I have found is an essential complement to (and perhaps even more important than) technical intelligence as I have moved forward in my career. Now that I have the benefit of more years in leadership positions, these lessons have really sunk in through applied practice.

What is your biggest challenge?

Being patient. I always want to effect change faster than I can, especially if I want to create change that outlasts the force of my personality. I have acted rashly when I haven’t been patient enough to see a bigger picture, to envision higher possibilities, or to invite others into the change process for reasons that matter to them, rather than to me. Deep change—both professional and personal—takes resilience, generosity and time.