Jim Whitehurst, the President and CEO of Red Hat has had an interesting career to date. He was a consultant for a number of years, joined Delta Air Lines right around September 11, 2001, and played a big role in securing the future of that company as its Chief Operating Officer, and now is the President and CEO of Red Hat (NYSE: RHT), the world’s first billion dollar open source company. Whitehurst and I recently spoke as part of my Forum on World Class IT podcast series, and hearing him compare his time at Delta to his current role at Red Hat struck me as an interesting case example in how older generation businesses and newer technology firms differ in terms of culture, hierarchy, collaboration, and the like.
I was intrigued to understand how easy it was for Whitehurst to move from the more hierarchical culture to one that is almost anti-hierarchical, and he highlighted the difference with a humorous aside. He said that in the first few weeks at Red Hat, he developed plans as he had done at Delta.
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