Senior Vice President
Executive Spotlight: David Donelan, SVP of SkillStorm Commercial Services
David Donelan began his career over three decades ago and has since held leadership positions at a number of companies. Currently, Donelan serves as senior vice president of SkillStorm Commercial Services, a role in which he is responsible for guiding and expanding both the federal and commercial sides of SkillStorm’s business.
In a recent interview with the Potomac Officers Club, Donelan reflected on what he has learned from leadership, the most impactful moments in his career and the core values that promote team success.
Read Donelan’s full interview below.
What do you believe are your core strengths as a leader and what lessons taught you the most about driving success?
I believe my core strengths as a leader are the ability to listen and genuinely engage with my teams. I also like to lead from the front to ensure that my teams see me as someone who can relate to what they go through daily. I was fortunate to have strong role models in my parents from an early age and several very strong leaders throughout my career. I learned that to have success you must have clear goals and direction, but be open to changes along the way. The key to success is focus and balance – being extremely focused on achieving your goals while balancing hard work and fun.
If your career came to an end tomorrow, what would you say have been the most significant accomplishments of your career?
Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to manage many people, so I would say my greatest accomplishment has been seeing my teams grow as individuals and accomplish their major goals. I have contributed to the growth of successful companies such as Digital, EMC, Pegasystems and most recently SkillStorm, however, having someone who has worked for me tell me how much they learned and enjoyed working on my team is the most rewarding aspect for me.
What are the core values that you believe are essential to build a great team and establish a foundation to drive success in such a competitive industry?
To build a great team and to establish a foundation for success you need to hire a diverse set of talented and driven people. You can’t teach drive and work ethic, but you can teach skills.
Here are some of the core values that I try to embrace and believe are key to building strong teams:
- Set clear and achievable, yet difficult goals with significant milestones.
- Always measure success. If you can’t measure it, you probably shouldn’t be doing it.
- Measure twice and cut once. A little planning goes a long way, however, always act with urgency.
- Provide direction and focus but don’t assume you have all the answers.
- Always listen to your customers, partners and teams.
- When engaging in problem solving or negotiations always try to see the situation from the others’ point of view.
- Never point out a problem without first trying to think of a solution.
- Celebrate successes and use setbacks as learning opportunities.
- Never criticize an individual in public. Always address individual issues in private.
- Praise when praise is due.
- Always be curious and always challenge yourself and your teams to avoid complacency.
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